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As a future architect, what is the best way you can serve the needs of your local community?

There is a total prize of 35,000USD, minimum 7,500USD first prize.

The BERKELEY PRIZE strives to show architects-in-training that the smallest act of building has global implications: that design can and does play a major role in the social, cultural, and psychological life of both the individual and society at large.

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. 

Each year, the PRIZE Committee selects a topic critical to the investigation of the social art of architecture and poses a Question based on that topic. Full-time undergraduate students in an architecture degree program or majoring in architecture in accredited schools of architecture throughout the world, including Diploma in Architecture students, may submit a 500-word essay proposal responding to the Question. Entries by teams of two students are encouraged and the second team member can be an undergraduate studying in fields related to architecture.

From the pool of essay proposals received, approximately 25-28 are selected by the PRIZE Committee as particularly promising. The selected 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.


There is a total prize of 35,000USD, minimum 7,500USD first prize.  The remaining purse is to be allocated at the discretion of the Jury.


  1. The competition is open to all current full-time registered students in an undergraduate architecture degree program or undergraduates majoring in architecture in accredited schools of architecture worldwide. Diploma in Architecture students who have not yet completed their Diploma are also eligible.

  2. Essays must be submitted in English.

  3. Finalists will be required to provide proof of current registration in the form of copies of actual school transcripts. You are still eligible to compete if you were an undergraduate student on September 15, 2020, but graduate before the awards are scheduled to be given.

Team Up

Two students (maximum) who meet the eligibility requirements above may collaborate as authors. An architecture student may team up with another undergraduate in architecture, landscape architecture, urban studies, arts and humanities, the social sciences, or engineering. If two students collaborate, then both names must appear on their essay and if awarded a prize, the prize is to be equally shared.


Become familiar with the history of the BERKELEY PRIZE, its many years of submissions and the research these submissions represent by exploring www.BerkeleyPrize.org.  In particular, you are required to read the 20th Anniversary, BP2018 responses by some of the former PRIZE winners describing their then-current work and projects; current updates to this work; and accomplishments of other winners as found on social media.  All of that can be found here.

As a result of these readings, answer the Question using the following prompts to frame your response:

  1. What you think your community needs most in terms of architecture to make the environment hospitable to everyone no matter what their age, physical ability, race, religion, sexual orientation or any other distinguishing factor.

  2. How you think your architectural education enables you to provide such solutions.

  3. Why you think all of this is important.

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 Proposal address the Question?

  2. How creative, or creatively developed, is the Proposal?

  3. Would the Proposal be clear to a broad audience?

  4. How does the Proposal rank in terms of writing style?

  5. How socially significant is the Proposal?

  6. What is the potential for developing this Proposal into a strong essay?

Each criterion is given a score of 1 to 5 (5 being the highest). The top approximately 25 scoring Proposals become Semifinalists.



" Lighting the candle of others won’t blow yours out " - Al