The Annual International Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence 2019
Berkeley Prize 2019

The 2019 Essay Prize Competition

An essay contest in Three stages open to all current full-time registered students in an undergraduate architecture degree program, undergraduates majoring in architecture, or diploma students in accredited schools of architecture worldwide. 25,000USD Purse.


The Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Design Excellence endowment was established in the Department of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design to promote the investigation of architecture as a social art. Each year the PRIZE Committee selects a topic important to the understanding of the interaction of people and the built world that becomes the focus of the Essay Competition. 

The Committee poses a Question on this website related to the topic. Students enrolled in any accredited undergraduate architecture program or diploma in architecture program throughout the world are invited to submit a 500-word essay proposal in English responding to the Question (see eligibility requirements).  Undergraduate architecture students may team up with undergraduates from allied arts and social sciences programs.

From the pool of essay proposals received, approximately 25 are selected by the PRIZE Committee as particularly promising. The selected individual students, or student teams, become Semifinalists.

These Semifinalists are invited to submit a 2,500-word essay, again in English, expanding on their proposals. A group of readers, composed of Committee members and invited colleagues, selects five-to-eight of the best essays and sends these Finalist essays to a jury of international academics and architects to select the winners.

At the conclusion of the Essay Competition submittals, all Semifinalists are also invited to submit for a BERKELEY PRIZE Travel Fellowship. Details for the Fellowship will be announced in the Spring 2019. Past Travel Fellowship Competition requirements, winning submissions, and follow-up reports by the winners are available to read here on the website.

2019 Dedication

U.C. Berkeley College of Environmental Design

Founded in 1959, Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design was an early reflection of the shift in architectural education during the second half of the 20th century from primarily aesthetic considerations to systematically identifying and studying the relationships between humans and their environment.  By combining the decades-old academic programs of architecture, landscape design and urban planning at Berkeley, an entirely different educational focus was created. 

An outgrowth of this new approach was the integration of social, behavioral, ecological, and climatic studies and research into the design curriculum. The result was a new all-encompassing discipline that was named Environmental Design. Wurster Hall itself reflects detailed responses to a number of the areas of concern, including the social distribution of spaces, the use of extensive passive sun-control elements, and more rigorous study of the proposed building as part of the total campus plan.

Wurster Hall was named after the husband and wife team of William Wurster and Catherine Bauer Wurster.  William Wurster was head of the School of Architecture and then the first Dean of the CED.  Catherine Bauer Wurster was a nationally-recognized housing expert and later Professor of City and Regional Planning at CED.  Both played significant roles in the founding of the new college.

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