Each entry in the AIA California Council Residential Design Awards program is judged on the success with which it has met its individual requirements. Entries are weighed individually, not in competition with others. All categories are open to both AIA members and nonmembers. Jury decisions will be based solely on the materials submitted. No field trips will be taken. Criteria include quality of design; resolution of the program or idea; and innovation, thoughtfulness, and technique.

All entries must also include detailed information about the environmentally sustainable aspects of the project.  The AIA defines sustainability as the concept of meeting present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable design is achieved through an integrated design and delivery process that enhances the natural and built environment by using energy sensibly with a goal toward carbon neutrality, improves air and water quality, protects and preserves water and other resources, and creates environments, communities and buildings that are livable, comfortable, productive, diverse, and safe. Sustainability is not the sole criterion on which projects will be judged.


  • Affordable Housing – Affordable Housing is a term used to describe dwelling units where federal, state or local subsidies make a project “affordable” to those with low or moderate incomes.
  • Condominiums – Condominiums are defined as residences that are individually owned while use of and access to common facilities in the building such as hallways, elevators, and exterior areas are executed under legal rights associated with the individual ownership and controlled by the association of owners that jointly represent ownership of the whole building.
  • Mobile Residences(including but not limited to Recreational Vehicles, Houseboats & Trailer Homes) – A mobile residence is not fixed at a stationary point, but has the ability to move and transport itself.
  • Multi-family Residences – Multi-family residences are defined as multiple separate housing units for residential inhabitants contained within one building or several buildings within one complex.
  • Single-family Residences – Single-family residences are defined as detached homes, meaning the home is a stand-alone structure with its own lot.

Entrants may submit up to two Unbuilt projects in any of the above categories.
Unbuilt architectural designs of the specified residential project type are eligible, including purely theoretical projects and unbuilt client-sponsored projects. Up to two entries of Unbuilt designs are accepted across the five categories of residential dwellings.


  • California projects:All architects and designers practicing within the United States are eligible to submit projects that are located in the State of California
  • California architects: All architects and designers practicing within California are eligible to submit projects located outside the state.  If a firm has multiple offices, only projects executed by the California offices are eligible.
  • Any architect, designer, or architecture firm falling into one of the above categories may submit any number of eligible entries provided each is submitted separately with separate payments.
  • Projects that have won awards in other AIACC awards programs are ineligible.
  • Any number of projects can be entered regardless of project size, budget, style, or building type and may include remodeling or extended use projects.
  • Work by the firm of a design professional serving as a juror is ineligible.
  • For built projects, construction must have been completed after JANUARY 1, 2007.
  • Residential projects are defined as projects where people live and may include affordable housing, mobile residences, condominiums, single and multi-family residences.  Hotels are not eligible.


     Greg Mottola, AIA, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
     Brian Phillips, AIA, Interface Studio Architects
     Anne Schopf, AIA, AIA Seattle
     To read the jurors bios click here.

Please submit your digital files in the following order. Do not include your firm name in any materials except for the Design Team Spreadsheet.  File names should not include your firm name. Including firm name may result in immediate disqualification.

  • 50-word Summary (Microsoft Word File): 50-word summary should be approximately two sentences on the project. Copy should be clear, concise and well written, as it may be reproduced in print publications.
  • One-page Summary (Microsoft Word File): Summary should fully outline the program and design objectives and how the project addressed these objectives.
  • Sustainable Design Supplementary Worksheet (REQUIRED): Include information indicating how your project addressed environmental objectives.  If you include an annotated diagram or section, also include this image as a separate pdf or jpeg file.  Click here for worksheet.
  • Site Plan (JPEG format): Show context and include North arrow.
  • Floor Plans (JPEG format): Include North arrow.
  • Sections/Elevations (JPEG format): optional; maximum two.
  • Images (JPEG format): Up to 8 images of the completed project. Artwork should be saved to a MINIMUM size of 8”x10” as JPGs at 300 dpi RGB.
  • Design Team Spreadsheet (REQUIRED): This is for office use only. Please indicate which residential category for which you are submitting your project, i.e. Single Family Residence, Multi-Family Residence, Mobile Residence, Condominium or Affordable Housing. This is the only document which should include your firm name. It will not be shown to the jury.  Click here for template.


  1. AIA California Council uses an electronic registration process. You must register here. If you are submitting multiple projects, you will need to register each project separately.  We recommend registering well in advance of the entry deadline.
  2. After you have registered online, you will receive an Order Confirmation email.  In the body of the email you will find specific instructions on how to “How to Upload Your Entry,”.  Make sure to save this email for future reference.
  3. Before submitting your entry, number the files in your entry to ensure that they are in the right order.  Make sure your file names do not include your firm name.  Zip your files into a single folder.  Name the folder with the format “FirmName_ProjectName”


Entry fees are nonrefundable.

  • $195 AIACC Members*
  • $375 Nonmembers
  • Free Full-time Architectural or Design Students with ID

*In consideration of the difficult economy, AIA California Council invites current AIACC members undergoing financial hardship to submit up to two Unbuilt Projects using a fee waiver. To be considered for a fee waiver, download the Residential Design Awards Fee Waiver Request Form.


  • Residential Design Award recipients will be announced at the 2013 AIACC Design Awards Celebration on November 14, 2013 at 6:00 p.m., UC Berkeley, CA.
  • All entries are considered for inclusion in top national design publications.
  • Winning firms will assume all exhibition printing costs.
  • Winning firms are required to submit appropriate authorization for use of any photographs and drawings for publicity purposes. Each winning team will be asked to identify a contact for the media


Click here for Frequently Asked Questions

Should you need further information please contact:
Marian Clark
Web and Communications Assistant
(916) 642-1719

PLEASE NOTE: If any authorship is revealed on any images or project summaries viewed by the jury, the entry will be disqualified.

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