Application Deadline:November 1, 2013

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. This year the topic is: The Architect and the Heathful Environment.



In your city, find a building or a public place that helps create a healthful environment.  Describe the features of the healthful environment that you admire and why.  Tell us what you believe the architect did specifically to make the healthful environment work as it does.

Then find a building or a public place that offers an unhealthful environment.  Describe the features of the unhealthful environment that you do not admire and why.  As an architect, describe specifically what you would have done differently, including working with what governmental and civic resources to Improve the situation.

Tell us what you have learned by this comparative analysis.

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 25 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 one of several BERKELEY PRIZE Travel Fellowships. Details for the Fellowships will be announced in the spring 2014. Past Travel Fellowship Competition requirements, winning submissions, and follow-up reports by the winners are available to read here on the website.


  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, 2013, but graduate before the awards are scheduled to be given.

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


There is a total prize of 12,500USD, minimum 4,500USD first prize.  Remaining purse to be allocated at the discretion of the Jury.


September 15, 2013 Launch of 2014 Essay Competition.
November 1, 2013 (Stage One) 500-word essay proposal due.
Mid-December, 2013 Essay Semifinalists announced.
February 1, 2014 (Stage Two) Essay Semifinalists’ 2,500-word essays due.
February 8, 2014 Launch of Travel Fellowship Competition for Essay Semifinalists.
Early-March, 2014 Essay Finalists announced.
March 8, 2014 Travel Fellowship Entries Due.
Mid-April, 2014 Essay winners and Travel Fellowship winners Announced.
Early Spring, 2014 Launch of Teaching Fellowship Competition for undergraduate architecture faculty).

Registration and Submission

You will be asked to complete a short registration form which will not be seen by members of the BERKELEY PRIZE Committee or Jury. REGISTER HERE.

For More Information:


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