Berkeley Prize Essay Competition 2021 for Undergraduate Students

Filed in Competitions by on September 18, 2020 0 Comments

The Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Design Excellence endowment was established 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.

The Committee poses a Question 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. Qualified students may also team up with undergraduates from allied arts and social sciences programs and submit proposals in teams of two.

The question for 2021 is: As a future architect, what is the best way you can serve the needs of your local community?


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


  • 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.
  • Essays must be submitted in English.
  • 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.

Teams: 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.

Photograph Requirements

  • This year you are asked to include ONE digital photograph that you have copied from any section, any page, and any year of the BERKELEY PRIZE website that has influenced your Proposal. 
  • A brief caption – 50 words maximum – should accompany the photograph telling them what the photo represents and why you have chosed it in particular. 
  • Post the photograph at a minimum 500 pixels wide, and in .jpg format. No more than one photograph will be accepted. The Readers are instructed NOT to add or detract points from their evaluation because of the quality of the photograph itself. The Readers, however, will evaluate how the photographs help support the argument you have made in your Proposal.

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.

How To Apply

  1. Write a 500-word proposal for an essay on this year’s Essay Question, as posted.
  2. Provide one photograph as described.
  3. Submit the essay and photograph online.

Click Here To Register

For more information, visit Berkeley Prize.

Application Deadline: November 1, 2020

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