The Nineteenth Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence 2017
Berkeley Prize 2017

Stage 2: Semifinalists

We are happy to announce that students from 30 countries submitted Proposals for the 2017 BERKELY PRIZE Essay competition.  From these submittals, 26 authors have been advanced to the Semifinalist round (Stage Two) of this year’s competition.

Semifinalists are now invited to submit a 2500-word Essay based on their 500-word Proposal.   At least five, but up to seven, top Essays will be selected for final judging by this year’s BERKELEY PRIZE Jury.

All authors, whether promoted to Semifinalist status or not, can login to view the Readers’ comments regarding your Proposals.

New instructions for this year’s Semifinalists are included below.

Ali Abidi National School of Architecture and Urban Planning Tunisia
Kenechukwu Achebe University of Nigeria, Enugu  Nigeria
Amarinder Arora School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal India
Bella Biwer University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee USA
Layton Checketts University of Utah USA
Jordan Coffey University of California, Berkeley USA
Tejaswini Deshmukh and Shhrruti Jain Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology India
Jan Doroteo University of Toronto Canada
Noharduth Gopee and Kritikka Mittal School of Planning and Architecture India
Shanya Gupta and Aarushi Sharma School of Planning and Architecture India
Sakshi Khare and Vihdi Wadhawan School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal India
Ramya Khare and Samridh Chaudhary School of Planning & Architecture, New Delhi India
Sarvochya Kumar and Saumya Singh School of Planning and Architecture India
Richard Migisha and Leslie Lubowa Uganda Martyrs University Uganda
Hadi Osni National University of Singapore Singapore
Nicholas Paino University of Oregon USA
Maryam Rastegar Pouyani and Amir Salar Mazaher Kermani Tehran University Iran
Muhammad Satya Irfananda and Lia Sparingga Purnamasari Universitas Sebelas Maret Indonesia
Clarenore Selbe University of Hawaii at Manoa USA
Shruti Shah Cornell University USA
Aashini Sheth CEPT University India
Simran Singh Amity University, Uttar Pradesh India
Aman Sinha School Of Planning And Architecture, Bhopal India
Salwa Tambe L.S. Raheja School Of Architecture India
Prasad Thanthratey Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology India
Peter Wasswa and Aaron Mwesigwa Uganda Martyrs University Uganda


Requirements for This Year’s Long Essay

In Stage Two, you are asked to expand upon your Proposal into a 2,500 word Essay.  In the Proposal you were asked to identify which of the three buildings you selected to discuss was, “most interesting to you as a representative of the community that occupies it.  In depth, explain why.”  We want you to focus on this task as you further research and write your 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 - apply them to the one building that you feel best reflects your arguments.  Below are some suggestions as to how to present all of your ideas in the best way possible.   


General Information

The BERKELEY PRIZE Committee encourages Semifinalists to improve the crafting of their ideas. A few suggestions as to how you can make your Essay more effective for both professional and non-professional readers:

  • Before you begin to write the 2,500 word essay, it is essential that you carefully consider the Readers' comments about your Proposal. 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 Committee 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.
  • 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.


We ask that you include four (4) digital photographs of images that help describe the content of your essay.  Two of these photos can be the images you already posted with your Proposal, but it needs to be re-posted.  The photographs should be no larger then 1 MB, and be in .jpeg format.  No more then four photographs will be accepted.  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.  There is space provided at the end of the submittal form to upload the images.  Space is also provided to number and caption each image.  

In selecting these four images, imagine that a publisher or editor of an online blog, or a newspaper, or a magazine have accepted your essay for publication.  One of their requirements is that you supply four illustrations that help describe and explain the points made in your essay.  What illustrations would you submit that not only provided the basic information about your topic, but also help further your written arguments?  As part of this process, refer to these illustrations at the appropriate spots within your essay.

Remember, however, one of the primary purposes of the essay format is to test your skill in describing a situation in words, rather then pictures or drawings.  Do not assume that just because you have posted the photographs that your responsibility to carefully describe in words your selected topic is reduced.  To the contrary: use the illustrations to support and strengthen your writing.

Improving Your Writing

You have almost six weeks to produce your essay in final form.  Use as much of this time as possible to attempt to actively improve your writing abilities, particularly if English is not your first language.  Read some good prose written in English, especially 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 online, in newspapers, and in widely circulated magazines. Think about how they present arguments and describe buildings and places.  Use websites, such as to improve your English vocabulary, syntax, and spelling.

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 assist:  Imagine that you are describing the situation and setting to a person who is blind.  How would you describe the details of what is and what you think there should be to them?  

Whether or not English is your first, second, or fifth language, again, 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, precise, and interesting as possible.  


Essays due anytime before midnight, GMT, February 1, 2017


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