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2017 Design Awards gallery

Image: 2017 Harleston Parker Medal winner, Boston Public Library, Johnson Building Transformation. Photo: Bruce T. Martin.

Each year the BSA, often in collaboration with other organizations, sponsors awards programs to honor design excellence in Massachusetts, throughout New England and elsewhere. Design awards celebrate excellent architecture and reward clients for investing in it. By honoring the outstanding achievements of our peers, we are reminded that all building industry professionals have the opportunity to positively affect their communities and the way we live.

Other 2018 Honors and Awards

AIA New England Design Award
Registration deadline: Friday, July 13, 2018
Submission deadline: Friday, August 17, 2018
Jury date: August–September 2018
Awards dinner: Friday, October 12, 2018

FAQs/Award submission tips:

What are all the BSA Design Awards programs?
Accessible Design
Campus and Urban Planning
Education Facilities Design
Healthcare Facilities Design
Hospitality Design
Housing Design
Interior Architecture and Design
Small Firms Design
Sustainable Design
Unbuilt Architecture and Design
Honor Awards for Design Excellence
Harleston Parker Medal

Are all of these programs active every year?
Some are and some aren’t. Every year, separate juries convene to evaluate submissions or nominations for:

  • Unbuilt Architecture and Design
  • Honor Awards for Design Excellence
  • Harleston Parker Medal

All other categories are active every other year, starting in 2018. View a list of the awards calendar.

How do I submit my/my firm’s project to one or more of these programs?
Starting in 2018, most BSA Design Awards programs will be submitted digitally through an OpenWater submission platform. (The Unbuilt Architecture and Design Awards will still require a physical 20” x 20” board. The Harleston Parker Medal nominations will still be submitted via email to An email announcement will be made when the submission module is live.

How many entries may I submit to a given program?
There is no limit. If you plan to submit multiple entries to the same program, each project must be submitted separately. There is a separate fee for each project. If multiple projects are submitted for the same program, the entry fee will be reduced after the first submission.

What is required for my submission?
Each award category is different, so be sure to check the appropriate Call for Entry (CFE) for all requirements. (The Unbuilt Architecture and Design Awards submissions and Harleston Parker Medal nominations are the most unusual in terms of submissions; however, each program’s focus is unique and submissions will need to be crafted accordingly.) The following requirements generally apply to all BSA Design Awards categories:

  • Project description (500 words)
  • Project images (a minimum of 10, a maximum of 20)
  • Project credit list
  • Entry fee

How should I compose my project description?
The one-page project description is easiest for jurors to read as a bulleted or otherwise clearly divided set of shorter blurbs. The project description should clearly provide the required information, as well as tell a story about the project in relation to design excellence and the specific award category to which you are submitting. Many jurors note that the most compelling descriptions succinctly identify the design problem designers were asked to solve, the concept created to solve it, and evidence that the built project actually delivered on the designers’ intent. Keep in mind that jurors have a limited amount of time to review each submission.

How do I choose which images to submit?
Images should highlight the excellence of the project. They should support the narrative of the project description, and the story that you want to tell about this project. Clear, cohesive plans and images illustrating the structure in context (in situ) are also important. Composite images are allowed, but please remember that the image limit is set with the intent of keeping the content of each submission manageable for jurors to review in the limited time allotted. Single sentence captions can help jurors understand the relevance of the images you select.

What type of image files must I submit? How do I submit them?
TIF and JPEG images files with 2000px and 300 dpi minimums are both acceptable. TIF is preferred. Do not submit images within a PDF.

All file names should accurately credit the photographer or source. Follow the naming convention: PhotographerFirstName_PhotographerLastName_FirmName_ProjectName. If the firm is responsible for the image, use FirmName_ProjectName. Images should also be clearly captioned to clarify their connection to your project description and to better orient jurors to your work.

What do I include in my project credit list?
You will be required to call out the general contractor for your project in a designated entry field. (If this field is not applicable to you, please enter “none.”) All other consultants should be listed in alphabetical order and separated by semicolons in the designated entry field. Generally, you should not submit individuals within a design team, but rather list the firm or organization under which they are working.

How much is the entry fee?
The entry fee varies by award category, so be sure to check the CFE for exact pricing. Typically, you can expect to pay between $150 and $250 for your first submission to a category, depending on member status. (Note: Entry fees for the Accessible, Small Firms, and Unbuilt Architecture and Design Awards categories are lower than most other entry fees. It costs nothing to nominate a project for Harleston Parker Medal consideration.) Pricing for most awards categories will usually be broken down, with a fee listed for each of the following:

  • the first submission by an AIA member
  • all subsequent submissions by an AIA member
  • the first submission by a non-member
  • all subsequent submissions by a non-member

​What shouldn’t I include in my awards submission?
Exclude or obscure all references to the architect or any consulting firms. Where possible, also exclude or obscure client name. If the client name is inextricably integrated into the fabric of the building, it may be acceptable.

Who will be evaluating my awards submission? When will they reach a decision?
Jury members and dates will be posted on each award page once the information is confirmed. Typically, the jury takes place some time during the month following that in which the award submission is due. (For example, if the submission is due in April, the jury will likely meet in May.) Juries are largely made up of members of the Greater Boston design community. However, juries sometimes meet in different cities and are composed of members curated by other chapters. The Honor Awards for Design Excellence are usually juried outside of Boston.

What do I get if I win?
Jurors give three tiers of awards:

  • Honor Awards—given to projects that most fully embody design excellence
  • Awards—given to projects that achieve a high level of design resolution
  • Citations—given to competent projects, often for a standout detail or component

In addition to recognition at the annual BSA Design Awards Gala, Honor Award winners will receive a Hobson award, and Award and Citation winners will receive an award certificate. ​