The Annual International Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence 2023
Berkeley Prize 2023

Semifinalist Instructions

Bullet Points for Writing Your Essay

You are asked to expand your Proposal into a 2,500-word Essay. Your Proposal was selected because it already reflects an especially good understanding of this year’s topic and Question.  Do not discard your original thoughts and ideas, but now make an in-depth argument that supports and enhances your thesis.    

  • Reviewer Comments. Before you begin to write the 2,500-word Essay, it is important that you carefully consider any reviewer comments about your Proposal. These comments are meant to help you write a winning essay. Please look for the reviewer comments in your Author Portfolio. (NOTE: Not all reviewers provide comments.)
  • The Essay is different from the Proposal.  Your Proposal was selected because the Committee believed that it was a good outline that had the potential to be developed into an even better essay.  You want to do much more than simply re-state your argument.  Explore and expand your ideas, the reasons for them, and the conclusions you have reached because of them. 
  • Substantiate the above thoughts with specific examples. Although the vast majority of the proposals this year identified important areas of concern and personal interest, a number did not describe in any but the broadest terms how architects in their community have specifically designed for aging. It is important to describe these efforts more fully. Equally important is what you think and hope the design process should include. Do not hesitate to go further and describe the design ideas you have for this specific issue.
  • Ask a friend to read your Essay before submitting it. Better yet, show it to two friends proficient in English: one, a fellow architecture student; the second, a person not familiar with the discipline or profession. Use their input to revise your draft. If you can prevail on them, ask them to read your revised draft.  Ask them how they think your argument can be made clearer and the language more succinct – it always can be, whether English is your first language or not. 

We ask that you include four (4) digital photographs of images from the Berkeley Prize website - preferably from the Resources provided for this year’s topic - to help describe the content of your essay.  One of these photos can be the image you already posted with your Proposal, but it needs to be re-posted.  The photographs should be no larger than 1 MB and be in .jpeg format.  No more than the four photographs will be accepted.  There is space provided at the end of the submittal form to upload the images.  Space is also provided to number and short caption for each image.  Do not assume that just because you have posted the photographs that your responsibility to carefully describe in writing your ideas is reduced. To the contrary: use the illustrations to support and provide examples of the arguments you make in your writing.

Judging Criteria

Judging for the Essay Competition is on a numeric system.  The members of the Berkeley Prize Committee are asked to evaluate each Essay in terms of the following criteria:

  1. Does the Essay address the Question?
  2. How creative, or creatively developed, is the Essay?
  3. Would the Essay be clear to a broad audience?
  4. How does the Essay rank in terms of writing style?
  5. How socially significant is the Essay?

Each Essay is given a score of 1 to 5 (5 being the highest).  The top-scoring Essays, usually seven or eight, become Finalists and will be sent to this year's Jury, the entire Berkeley Prize Committee (see:


Essays due any time before midnight, GMT, 1 February 2023

Additional Help and Information

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