The Twelfth Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectual Design Excellence 2010
Berkeley Prize 2010

Stage 2: Semifinalists

We are happy to announce that 25 contestants have advanced to the Semifinalist round (Stage Two) of the BERKELEY PRIZE 2010 competition. Architecture students from 26 countries entered this year's competition. Semifinalists are invited to submit a 2500-word essay based on their 500-word Proposal. The top five to seven essays will be selected for final judging by the BERKELEY PRIZE Jury.

Semifinalist Winners

Susan Bopp, University of Michigan, USA

Calvin Chua, Architectural Association School of Architecture, UK

Jessica Clark, University of California Berkeley, USA

Tara Gaskin, Dalhousie University, Canada

Yi?itcan Karanfil, Bahçe?ehir University, Turkey

Mehrnoosh Khalooghi and Ehsan Sakhinia, lIslamic Azad University of Qazvin, Iran

Matthew Lam, University of New South Wales, Australia

Wenli Low and Andrew Lim, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Zachary Massad, Lawrence Technological University, USA

Jessica Marcellus, Dalhousie University, Canada 

Lillian Namugaya, Makerere University, Uganda

Nicole Newman, Dartmouth, USA

Ishanie Niyogi, Birla Institute of Technology, India

Marina Sapunova, Vladimir State University, Russia

Arlie Schrantz, Carnegie Mellon University, USA

Naweera Sidik and Nina Katrina Mohamed Hosain, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Holly Simon, Dalhousie University, Canada

Katlyn Springstead, University of Notre Dame, Italy

Aimee Sunny, University of Notre Dame, USA

Michael Swords, Dublin School of Architecture, Ireland

Justin David Tan, University of Santo Tomas, Philippines

Felicia Toh, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Robert Ungar, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Israel

Erica Witcher, University of Washington, USA

Pek Ling Yong and Ng Qianzhi, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Instructions to Semifinalists

We compliment all of the Semifinalists on the extraordinary diversity of ideas and approaches in response to this year’s Question. Such responses indicate the depth of interest in and concern for Architecture as a Social Art. As an essay competition, the BERKELEY PRIZE encourages the translation of these interests and concerns into a format for communication both to those within the profession and the wider public.

General Information

In Stage Two, you are to expand upon your chosen topic in 2,500 words. The BERKELEY PRIZE Committee encourages Semifinalists to improve the crafting of their ideas. A few suggestions seem appropriate:

  • Before you begin to write the 2,500 word essay, it is essential that you carefully consider the Reviewers' comments about your Proposal for the essay. These comments are meant to help you write a winning essay. Please read your reviewer comments in your Author Portfolio. 
  • An essay is different from a Proposal.  Your Proposal was selected because the Reviewers believed that it was a good outline that had the potential to be developed into an even better essay on the Social Art of Architecture.  You want to do more – 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 these thoughts with specific examples.  Remember:  the Question asks not only what building or group of buildings should be saved and why, but also, HOW such building(s) are to be re-purposed.  While we do not expect you to provide intricate or technical details, we do hope that you will give us a sense of a possible path that could be followed. 
  • In answering the Question, the BERKELEY PRIZE Committee is particularly interested in responses that speak to the general public. If social architecture is to become the norm, rather then the exception, the public must be persuaded of the value of design that reflects human worth. If social ideas are to be realized, rather then simply discussed, the public must be persuaded that there is added value to initiating your idea as opposed to doing nothing. This means selecting a voice that is both your own, and one that is accessible to both serious readers and those who read only the "lead" points.
  • Ask a friend to read your essay before submitting it. Better yet, show it to two friends: 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 your argument can be made clearer – it always can be.


This year, we are asking that you include ONE basic digital photograph of your selected building(s) or place with your essay.  The photograph should be no larger then 1 MB, and be in ,jpeg format.  No more then one photograph will be accepted. There is space provided at the end of the submittal form to upload the image.  You can use a digital camera, a film camera (and scan the printed image), or even capture the image on a cell phone and transfer it to your document.  The photograph should be as informative as possible in order to enable those reading the essays to determine how well you have described your subject matter.  The Readers and Jurors are instructed NOT to add or detract points from their evaluation because of the quality of the photograph itself.  To the contrary, one of the primary purposes of the essay format is to test your skill in describing a building in words, rather then pictures or drawings.  So, do not assume that just because you have posted the photograph that your responsibility to describe your selected building is completed.  As with the readers, use the photograph to continually reference how good a job you have done in describing your selected building(s) or place in words.   

Improving Your Writing

You have almost six weeks to produce your essay in final form. Use at least four of these weeks creatively to improve your writing abilities in English. Use as much of this time as possible to attempt to actively improve your writing abilities.  Read some good prose written in English, particularly essays, whether from the field of architecture or from other disciplines.  In architecture, search for articles written by architectural journalists and popular architectural historians who write for a general audience in newspapers and widely circulated magazines. Think about how they present arguments and describe buildings.  Avoid the use of professional language unfamiliar to many of your intended readers, except where absolutely necessary. Above all, avoid jargon.  In describing your subject matter you might want to use this “trick”:  Imagine that you are describing the building(s) or place to a person who, unfortunately, lost their sight after years of being able to see.  How would you describe this new building(s) or place to them using only their memories of how other places looked?  Use the websites listed below to improve your English vocabulary, syntax, and spelling . Whether or not English is your first, second, or fifth language, do not hesitate to review your essay with an experienced English language-speaker and writer.  Use their suggestions as how to make your argument as clear and precise as possible.

Additional Help and Information

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