2020 Berkeley Prize Competition

Sponsor: UC Berkeley Department of Architecture
Theme: How Do Civic Buildings Create Community?
Type: Open, International, essay, two-stage
Eligibility: Typically, 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.
Language: English
Fee: none


September 15, 2019 – Launch of 2020 Essay Competition

November 1, 2019 – (Stage One) 500-word essay proposal due

Mid-December, 2019 – Essay Semifinalists announced

February 1, 2020 – (Stage Two) Essay Semifinalists’ 2,500-word essays due

February 8, 2020 –Launch of Travel Fellowship Competition for Essay Semifinalists

Early-March, 2020 – Essay Finalists announced

March 12, 2020 – Travel Fellowship Entries Due

Mid-April, 2020 – Essay winners and Travel Fellowship winners Announced

There is a total prize of 35,000USD, minimum 9,000USD first prize.  The remaining purse is to be allocated at the discretion of the Jury.
• Karen Trapenberg Frick, Ph.D (U.S.)
• Noamichi Kurata (Japan)
• Eric Klinenberg, Ph.D (U.S.)
• Malini Krishnankutty, Ph.D (India)
Essay Challenge:

This year’s topic focuses on how civic architecture provides for the health, safety, education, intellectual life and well-being of the community.  Decide which of these services interests you the most.  Go out into the city in which your school is located with a team member from another academic discipline and find two public buildings that you feel are especially successful for the type of service you have selected.  Use these buildings as the basis for your answer to the Question.  

In your research, you should particularly think about what exactly it is about the design of these buildings that make them so successful and the ways in which collaboration with other disciplines has contributed to their success.  An architect cannot make this happen alone. Some ideas you might want to explore:

Why exactly is the building important to the community?

How can/does the design of the buildings enhance their social, political and practical significance for the people it serves?

Why was the specific site selected for each of the buildings by the city?

Was there anything special about the design process that contributes to the buildings’ success?

How do neighbors feel about the buildings? How do the staff feel about the buildings? How do the users feel about the buildings?

What are the lessons to be learned from these examples that you can apply to future similar civic building projects? 

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