The Annual International Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence 2020
Berkeley Prize 2020

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.   

  • First, re-visit the two buildings you have selected. Get to know them better.  Get to know the people who use and work in the buildings better.  Get to know the community in which they are located better.  Continue to learn how the buildings were conceived and built and what makes them special.  Ask questions.
  • 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 will provide comments).
  • 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 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.
  • YOU MUST INCLUDE an opening paragraph of no more than 50 words that describes specifically the rationale for teaming up with your specific partner. 
  • 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 and the language more succinct – they always can be.
  • We ask that you include four (4) digital photographs of images that you have personally taken to help describe the content of your essay.  Two of these photos can be the images you already posted with your Proposal, but they need 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 caption each image.  Do not assume that just because you have posted the photographs that your responsibility to carefully describe in words your selected examples is reduced.  To the contrary: use the illustrations to support and strengthen 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 approximately 5-7 (or more) scoring Essays become Finalists and will be sent to this year's Jury members.



Essays due any time before midnight, GMT, February 1, 2020


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