The Annual International Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence 2020
Berkeley Prize 2020
Designing Civic Buildings:
The Architect Works With a Team
Click for full resolution image.

Quick Links

About the Prize

The BERKELEY PRIZE Competition was established in 1998, made possible by a generous gift of JUDITH LEE STRONACH to the Department of Architecture in the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley, U.S.A.

The Endowment »

New here?

The BERKELEY PRIZE strives to show architects-in-training that the smallest act of building has global implications: that design can and does play a major role in the social, cultural, and psychological life of both the individual and society at large.

Learn More About the Basics »

Examples of Civic Buildings Helping to Create and Support Local Communities
<strong>Planetario de </strong>Medellín Jesús Emilio Ramírez González (Medellín Planetarium)<strong>, </strong>Medellín, Colombia. Marco Aurelio Baquero, Architect. See: <a href=''></a>. (Photo: website.)
<strong>El Parque Explora, </strong>Medellín, Columbia. Interactive science museum. Alejandro Echeverri + Valencia Arquitectos, Architects. See: <a href=''></a> (Photo: website)
<p><strong>United States Post Office, </strong>Albany, California, U.S.A. This is typical of the thousands of post offices in the country that, despite the computer age, are in constant use by the local community.</p>
<strong>Aspen Police Department Headquarters, </strong>Aspen, Colorado, U.S.A. Charles Cunniffe Architects.  See: <a href=''></a>; and <a href=''></a>
<strong>São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP), </strong>São Paulo, Brazil. Lina Bo Bardi, Architect. See: <a href=''></a>
<strong>Edificio de Correos </strong><strong>y Telegrafos</strong><strong> (Mail and Telegraph Building), </strong>Valencia, Spain. 1922. This Central Post Office building is popularly known as the “Palacio de Comunicaciones” (Palace of Communications). Miguel Angel Navarro, Architect.
<strong>San Francisco Department of Public Health Headquarters, </strong>San Francisco, U.S.A.
<strong>Seattle Public Library, Central Branch, </strong>Seattle, U.S.A. Funding was provided by a $196 million <a href='' title='Municipal bond'>bond measure</a>, called "Libraries for All," approved by Seattle voters. <a href='' title='Rem Koolhaas'>Rem Koolhaas</a>, <a href='' title='Office for Metropolitan Architecture'>Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)</a>, working in conjunction with <a href='' title='Joshua Prince-Ramus'>Joshua Prince-Ramus</a>, <a href='' title='LMN Architects'>LMN Architects</a>.
<strong>Beijing National Aquatics Center, </strong>Beijing, China.  The “Water Cube” at the Olympic Park. PTW Architects and the Arup Australasia engineering group, together with the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) and the CSCEC Shenzhen Design Institute.  See: <a href=''></a>
<strong>Sunday Community Market at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DVM) Office, </strong>Oakland, California, U.S.A. This DMV is one of 180 such offices in California, all of which issue driver's licenses, identity cards, and vehicle registrations.
<strong>Temescal Branch Library, </strong>Oakland, California, U.S.A. 1918. One of sixteen libraries in the <a href=''>Oakland Public Library</a> system. Charles W. Dickey and John J. Donovan, Architects.
<strong>San Francisco City Hall, </strong>San Francisco, U.S.A. 1915. Designed by <a href=',_Jr.' title='Arthur Brown, Jr.'>Arthur Brown, Jr.</a> of Bakewell & Brown, Architects. See: <a href=''></a>
<strong>Bunjil Place Cultural Center, Narre Warren, </strong>Victoria, Australia. Fjmt Architects. See: <a href=''></a>; <a href=''></a>  (Photo: Trevor Mein)
<strong>Tokyo International Forum, </strong>Tokyo, Japan.  Convention center, concert venue and exhibition space designed by Rafael Viñoly, Architect. See: <a href=''></a>
<strong>Biblioteca Latino-Americana Victor Civita (Victor Civita Latin America Library), at the Latin American Memorial, </strong>São Paulo, Brazil. Oscar Niemeyer, Architect.  The Library is part of a much larger, multi-building cultural center.  See: <a href=''></a>
<strong>Mercat Central (Central Market), </strong>Valencia, Spain. 1914-1928. <a href='' title='Alejandro Soler March (page does not exist)'>Alejandro Soler March</a> and Francesc Guàrdia i Vial, Architects.
<strong>Oceanário de Lisboa, </strong>Lisbon, Portugal. The largest indoor aquarium in Europe. Designed by Cambridge Seven Associates led by American architect Peter Chermayeff.
<strong>Shanghai Concert Hall, </strong>Shanghai, China. Originally built in 1930, Robert Fan Wenzhao, Architect. In 2007, in recognition of its historic and cultural importance to the community, the entire hall was moved 66 meters to facilitate the construction of a new elevated highway. It has been fully conserved for a new lifetime of community use.
<strong>Xiafu Activity Center, </strong>New Taipai City, Taiwan. <a href=''>IMO Architecture + Design</a>;<br />
<a href=''>JC Cheng +Associates+Architects+Planners</a>. See: <a href=''></a> (Photo:
<strong>Chorsu Market, </strong>Tashkent, Uzbekistan.  Today’s bazaar is a complex of large blue and turquoise domes constructed by the government in the Soviet era during the 1980s on the site of former markets that have been in operation for over 2000 years.  See: <a href=''></a>
<strong>Wasit Wetland Center, Sharjah, </strong>United Arab Emirates. X Architects. See: <a href=''></a> (Photo: Nelson Garrido)
<strong>Tabriz Bazaar Complex, </strong>Tabriz, Iran. United Nations World Heritage listing. See <a href=''></a>   Recent Aga Khan prize-winning  rehabilitation by ICHTO East Azerbaijan Office, Architects. See: <a href=''></a> (Photo: AKKA-Amir Anoushfar)
<strong>Skool4Kidz Childcare Campus @ Sengkang Riverside Park, </strong>Singapore. Freight Architects. See: <a href=''></a> (Photo: <a href=''></a>)
<strong>Shelter For Victims Of Domestic Violence, </strong>Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel. Amos Goldreich Architecture + Jacobs Yaniv Architects.  See: <a href=''></a> (Photo: Amit Geron)
<strong>Christmas Market at the Palace of Culture and Science (PKiN), </strong>Warsaw, Poland.  Designed by Soviet architect <a href='' title='Lev Rudnev'>Lev Rudnev</a> in what has been called the <a href=''>"Seven Sisters"</a> (Stalinist) style, the 1955 building has survived post-Communist era calls for its demolition. It “houses various public and cultural institutions such as cinemas, theaters, libraries, sports clubs, university faculties and authorities of the <a href='' title='Polish Academy of Sciences'>Polish Academy of Sciences</a>.”  The building is slowly overcoming its history as a symbol of totalitarianism and has become a true community resource. See: <a href=''></a>
<strong>Maitland Riverlink Gateway Building, </strong>Maitland, Australia.  CHROFI and <a href=''>McGregor Coxall</a>, Architects and Landscape Architects.  See:  <a href=''></a>  (Photo:
<strong>Kings Place Offices, Music and Visual Arts Center, </strong>London, England. Dixon Jones, Architects. See: <a href=''></a> (Photo: website); <a href=''></a>
<strong>Aspen Volunteer Fire Department Headquarters + Fire Museum, </strong>Aspen, Colorado, U.S.A. S2 Architects. See: <a href=''></a>
<strong>UVA Nuevo Occidente, </strong>Medellín, Colombia. Public and community spaces including swimming pool, dressing rooms, and recreational terrace; a ballroom, toy library, classroom workshop, cinema auditorium and children's playground; multiple classrooms, administrative offices, commercial premises and viewing terrace and, in addition to a multi-purpose Coliseum, synthetic court and urban gym. See also: <a href=''></a>  (Photo: Benard Acellam)
<strong>Cultural Development Center of Moravia (CDCM), </strong>Medellín, Colombia. Rogelio Salmona, Architect. Designed with an auditorium for 350 people; thirty private and soundproof cubicles for practice; three multiple classrooms for meetings, rehearsals, training or practice; galleries; and a number of playgrounds for various activities. See also: <a href=''></a>  (Photo: Benard Acellam)
Planetario de Medellín Jesús Emilio Ramírez González (Medellín Planetarium), Medellín, Colombia. Marco Aurelio Baquero, Architect. See: (Photo: website.)
2020 Essay Prize Jury and Committee
Trapenberg Frick

See the profiles of the 65 professionals and scholars from around the world who select the semifinalists and finalists, and present the top essays to the jury. These Committee members represent some of the leading figures in their representative disciplines. They are all dedicated to pushing the field of architecture to do much more to integrate social issues and a social perspective into the design process.

2020 Essay Prize Competition

Each year, the PRIZE Committee selects a topic critical to the investigation of the social art of architecture and poses a Question based on that topic. This year, full-time undergraduate students enrolled in any architecture degree program or majoring in architecture throughout the world are asked to team with another student from outside of architecture studies to jointly submit a 500-word Essay proposal responding to the Question.

2020 Travel Fellowship Competition

Students: If you become a semifinalist in the Essay competition, you have the opportunity through the TRAVEL FELLOWSHIP to propose visiting a foreign locale for a hands-on research experience tied to the subject of your Essay.

Berkeley Prize 2019: Architecture and Climate Resilience
Essay Prize Competition Winning Essay
"Thinking Water, Thinking Fluid"

...It started with a drop of water on his bald head. He looked upwards and smiled at the gathering of ominous clouds. The sky was clear just a moment ago. He let the raindrops cool down his body for a moment before taking shelter beneath a nearby tree. The parched land seemed just as thirsty, soaking in every drop of water. In between the rolling of thunders, children's joyful sound could be heard as they welcomed the rain with songs and dances. The feeble houses could barely resist the wind that was strong enough to dissolve the distinction between house and nature. After a while, the dry earth did quench its thirst, turning into a magical green overnight. But the rain gave no sign to stop. Water level seemed to go up and up, overflowing the river. The houses began to get submerged, what started as a blessing snatched away homes.

Gradually the water subsided, leaving behind a trail of dismantled houses. The land was softer with silt, but the willpower of the people was stronger than ever. They went back to assembling the pieces the very next day. Everyone became the builder of their own home. One by one all the neighbors joined hands. They survived the storm together and together they started to rise. Within days, all the houses got re-erected, as did their dreams.

These habitual arrangements only demonstrate the existence of an age-old relationship between the people and water. Well aware of the blessings that it brought, they were used to the seasonal floods despite its hardships. Living in the most dynamic and fluid landscape of the world, the hydrological dynamic had allowed the people to traditionally develop a particular building typology that empowered them to sustain their lifestyles adapting to this predictable change of seasons...

Read the Full Essay »

See all Winning Essays »

Travel Fellowship Competition Winner
Philipp Goertz
Japan, Summer 2019

...This idea of resilience and sustainability through aesthetic decisions and absolute carefulness in design was made even clearer during my visit to Kyoto. Rengeji Temple and the Katsura Imperial Villa endure in perfect condition - not due to unbreakable materiality, but because they have deeply touched people's emotion. As a result, they have become worthy to maintain and care for.

This very same idea applies to the thatched roofs, that I visited in the backcountry of Kobe. Ikuya Sagara san, a thatcher, invited me to his house in Ogo. He generously showed me some of his works and even let me assist on construction site. I still doubt my contribution to the progress on construction, but he still invited me to come back to Japan and work with him.

A common thatched roof lasts about thirty years. Especially the parts that are exposed to wind, rain and snow a lot will start to rotten - the roof needs to be fixed. Due to its thickness and the natural properties of material and construction, only the very top layer of the roof needs to be replaced completely - the layers beneath can be reused in the construction of the new roof which then again will last for thirty more years...

Read the Full Report »

See all Reports from Winners »

The Social Art of Architecture in Print

The BERKELEY PRIZE is proud to highlight the book, PALACES FOR THE PEOPLE: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life, written by Eric Klinenberg, one of this year's BERKELEY PRIZE Jurors. The book's thesis is, in fact, the basis for this year's PRIZE topic. It has received an avalanche of attention and positive reviews from a wide variety of sources. The New York Times Book Review below, written by Pete Buttigieg, a Rhodes Scholar, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, U.S.A., and Democratic U.S. Presidential nominee-hopeful, is a both a summary of the book's contents and a serious reflection on its argument. It is an apt starting point for approaching this year's topic and Question. See the Introduction to this year's PRIZE Question for more about the book.


  • The Berkeley Prize for the 2023-2024 academic year has been suspended.

Berkeley Prize News

May 01, 2023

Berkeley Prize 2023 winners are announced! See details about the Essay Prize Winners and the Travel Fellows. Thanks to all who participated!

December 22, 2022

Food for thought: STIR rounds up five architectural projects that displayed commitment towards community upliftment and helped reinvent a social identity.

October 01, 2022

Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2022 puts the spotlight on community and culture. Read or listen to the report here.

September 15, 2022


September 14, 2022

Meet Ushna Raees, the newest member of the Berkeley Prize Committee.

Ushna is a practicing Architect/ Designer based in Karachi, Pakistan and currently working for ‘arcop’ one of the most renowned firms in the country. During the course of her stint with ‘arcop’, Ushna has worked as Project Architect on several complex projects undertaken by AKDN (Aga Khan Development Network) and AKESP (Aga Khan Education Service, Pakistan) in the Northern Areas which is a diverse terrain from cultural, social and geographical aspects. The projects comprise four Schools and an IT Park. She has assisted and been part of the team on the projects including a five star hotel (Serena) in Gilgit & Hunza, Office buildings (HBL Plaza, HBL Clifton, HBL Swing space), Emaar Mosque, Emaar village Islamabad, TCF vocational center, The Indus Hospital, Surjani Town Karachi, Panu Orchards Mansehra, Aga Khan Center etc.

Copyright © 1998-2024 Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence
Privacy Policy Cookie Policy
For permission for any form of re-use of any of the contents, please contact
The BERKELEY PRIZE is endorsed by the Department of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley.