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.
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. Qualified students may also team up with undergraduates from allied arts and social sciences programs and submit proposals in teams of two. (For specific yearly requirements see the To Enter page).
From the pool of essay proposals received, approximately 25-28 are selected by the Prize Committee as particularly promising. The selected 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 the Prize Committee members 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 a proposal for a BERKELEY PRIZE summer Fellowship. This year, the opportunity is a Community Service Fellowship. Details for this Fellowship, now in its second year, will be announced in early 2022.
Steps to Enter
- Meet the Eligibility Requirements.
- Write a 500-word Proposal for a potential Essay on this year’s Essay Question, as posted.
- Provide two photographs as described below.
- Submit the Proposal and photographs online.
Eligibility / Teams
- 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.
- This year’s special team opportunity urges and recommends that you team with a full-time undergraduate social sciences student at your college or university or equally-accredited college or university in your local community in which you reside. Two students maximum may collaborate. Both of their names must appear on their Proprosal and potential Essay. If awarded a prize, the prize is to be equally shared.
- If you are and undergradute architecture student who wishes to submit a Proposal and potential Essay without the equal work of a social science team member, you are permitted to do so and submit as an individual. This year, however, you are not permitted to team with another architecture student.
- 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, 2021, but graduate before the awards are scheduled to be given.
This year you are asked to include TWO digital photographs that you have copied from any of this year’s posted topic Reources or similarr resources that has influenced your Proposal. One of the photographs should help support the argument you make in your Proposal as to an issue you believe needs to addressed in providing housing for the disadvantaged. The other photograph should help support the argument you make for the proposed response. A brief caption – 50 words maximum – should accompany the photograph telling us what the photo represents and the source of the photograph. Please post the photograph at a minimum 500 pixels wide, and in .jpg format. No more than two photographs will be accepted.
NOTE: The Readers are instructed not to add or detract points from their evaluation because of the quality of the photograph itself, nor whether it is the students’ work or an archival photograph. The Readers, however, will evaluate how the photographs help support the argument you have made in your Proposal.
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:
- Does the Proposal address the Question?
- How creative, or creatively developed, is the Proposal?
- Would the Proposal be clear to a broad audience?
- How does the Proposal rank in terms of writing style?
- How socially significant is the Proposal?
- 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 approximately 25-28 top-scoring Proposals become Semifinalists, who will be offered the opportunity to write a 2500-word Essay based on the Proposal..
Awards:- There is a total prize of 35,000USD, minimum 8,500USD first prize. The remaining purse is to be allocated at the discretion of the Jury.