What We are About
The Berkeley Prize encourages undergraduate architecture students from around the world to expand their academic education by going into their communities and investigating how the built environment best serves and best reflects the everyday lives of those for whom we design.
Cash awards and potential subsequent hands-on research experiences in foreign locales are given to students who present the best written essays describing what role the architect plays in developing and furthering this social art of architecture.
How it Works
Each year, the Prize Committee selects a topic and poses a Question based on that topic. Full-time students enrolled in any undergraduate architecture degree program, Diploma in Architecture program, or majoring as an undergraduate in architecture throughout the world are invited to submit a 500-word Essay proposal responding to the Question. Architecture students are encouraged to team with another full-time undergraduate student from a different discipline to submit a proposal. (See the To Enter page for details.)
From this pool of essays, approximately 25-28 are selected by the Prize Committee as particularly promising. These Semifinalists are then asked to submit a 2500-word essay expanding on their Proposals. The Berkeley Prize Committee members, acting as readers, select five-to-eight of the best essays and send these Finalists on to a Jury of international academics and architects to select the winners. Semifinalists are also offered the opportunity to compete for a summer Fellowship opportunity. All phases of the Prize are completed online.
Participation and Recognition
During the past 24 years, 3599 students working both as individuals and in teams of two have submitted Proposals and Essays representing dozens of schools of architecture from 85 countries. A total of 175 awards have been made to 212 students. In recognition of these efforts, the Prize was the recipient of a 2009 American Institute of Architects Collaborative Achievement Honor Award, and a 2002 American Institute of Architects Education Honor Award.
The Berkeley Prize has also garnered international acclaim, not the least reason for which is its complete embracing of digital technology. In partial recognition of this outreach, the 2003 Berkeley Prize Competition was named a Special Event of "World Heritage in the Digital Age," a Virtual Congress helping to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention.
BERKELEY PRIZE Travel Fellowship (2004-2019; 2023-). This award recognizes the vital role that exposure to other cultures and environments plays in helping to demonstrate the reality and importance of the social art of architecture. All Semifinalists for the Essay Competition are eligible to submit proposals demonstrating how they would use the opportunity to travel to an architecturally-significant destination or event, preferably to participate in a hands-on service-oriented situation related to the yearly topic. The winning student(s) are provided with airfare, living expenses, and program fees.
BERKELEY PRIZE Community Service Fellowship (2021-2022) Students were given the opportunity to propose a paid internship with an existing community service program linked to architecture either in their school or home locales; or to propose generating such a program with the assistance of local professionals. The proposals were evaluated as to how they best reflected the students' Essay topic.
BERKELEY PRIZE Teaching Fellowship (2013-2014). The Berkeley Prize Committee broadened the scope of the activities of the Prze by offering faculty who teach undergraduate architectural design an academic-year Teaching Fellowship. The primary goal for the Berkeley Prize Teaching Fellowship was to explore methodologies for the teaching of the social art of architecture. During the two-year experiment, the Teaching Fellowship was based on the then current Prize topic and supplemented on-going courses taught by the faculty member.
BERKELEY PRIZE Architectural Design Fellowship (2008-2011). This award offered students the opportunity to organize their own local design competition for other undergraduate architecture students based on further development of the yearly topic. All Semifinalists for the Essay Competition were invited to submit proposals for this or another Fellowship award. The Berkeley Prize provided the students who submitted the best proposals an honorarium, and allocated additional money to fund prizes for the winners of the regional competition.
Visit the Essay Prize Competition Homepage »