Union Studio Architecture & Community Design, Nat Rea (photo)

2020 Design Awards

Submitting for the 2020 Design Awards

Start your submission here 


AIA Rhode Island is committed to excellence in architecture and looks forward to celebrating outstanding works of architecture through its annual Design Awards Program. The purpose of the program is to recognize achievements in design by Rhode Island architects and to honor the project teams and the clients who work with them to create and enhance our built environment.

All Awards: 

  • AIA-RI Member architects may submit projects located worldwide
  • The project must be submitted by a licensed architect of record
  • Non-AIA-RI members licensed to practice in the state of Rhode Island may only submit projects located in Rhode Island.
  • Built projects must have been substantially completed.

Object Award: Open to all R.I. residents (including designers/artists/students) and/or R.I. based firms or outside individuals or firms for R.I. projects


Awards will be submitted, judged and bestowed in categories. Each Category will have 3 potential levels of recognition: Honor, Merit, Citation; Unbuilt would have 2 potential levels of recognition: Merit and Citation.

  • Honor Awards - for projects that show outstanding achievement in architectural design
  • Merit Awards – for projects with noteworthy achievement in architectural design
  • Citation- for projects that deserve honorable mention

The entrant must specify the category that the project is being submitted for in each project submission. The Jury will have authority to move a submitted project to another category if they deem appropriate. 

See the list of 2020 Design Awards Categories.

All built architecture projects will be included in the People's Choice Award Program.


Submissions must be digital and are to be entered through the OpenWater website platform. No binders will be accepted. Submission package should be in portable document format (PDF); the file size shall not exceed 16MB. 

All materials listed below shall be named with 1) the project name and 2) unique 3-digit applicant # (visible in the OpenWater main menu) formatted on eight (8) single-sided pages not larger than 8 1/2” x 11” each. All references to the architecture firm must be concealed on all materials that will be reviewed by the jury. For the jury, submissions should include a narrative description of the project that includes: 

  • Project Information: Project Name, Category, Location, Completion Date, Construction Cost/SF (if allowed by client)
  • The responsibility of the architect
  • Client type
  • Site description
  • Program of the project
  • Special constraints
  • Design solution
  • Sustainable aspects of the project if any (Some features may include predicted versus actual annual energy usage, zEPI Score, notable sustainable building features, any rating systems (i.e. LEED, Green Globes, IgCC compliant) or if NetZero or Passive House.')
  • Drawings that best represent the project (e.g. site plan, floor plans, elevations, and sections)
  • Project photographs or black-and-white or color images. More than one (1) image per page is acceptable. Images should be of high-quality.

Start your submission here 

Deadlines & Fees

  • Awards entries have two phases: Registration and Submission. Fees are paid at the end of the Registration phase. 
    • Early-Bird registration closes September 30, 2020, 5pm Eastern
    • Registration closes Wednesday, November 4, 2020, 5pm Eastern
    • The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, November 4, 2020 before 5pm Eastern
    • All deadlines are strictly observed
  • Early-Bird Fees:
    • Member - 1st submission $150
    • Member - each additional submission $100
    • Non-Member - 1st submission $200
    • Non-Member - each additional submission $150
    • Student - submission for Object Award $25
  • Regular Fees:
    • Member - 1st submission $200
    • Member - each additional submission $150
    • Non-Member - 1st submission $250
    • Non-Member - each additional submission $200
    • Student - submission for Object Award $50
  • Fees are nonrefundable.

2020 Design Awards Jury

The 2020 Design Awards Jury is being formed by AIA-CT.  

Communicating with the jury from the time of submittal to completion of the jury process by the submitter or anyone acting on their behalf is inappropriate and cause for disqualification.

The Jury is encouraged to consider projects along following criteria – where applicable:

  • Durability — Longevity, Maintenance and future adaptability and flexibility
  • Functionality & Building Performance – Operational, Ease of Use, Safety, Benchmarking
  • Suitability - Response to client program and intended purpose, Circulation, Potential and flexibility, Livability
  • Human Impact - Interaction with human behavior, Interaction with all users and/or society. Are they enriched through contact?
  • Ecological Impact — Environmental and/or ecological compatibility
  • Relationship to context/site
  • Concept and Theory
  • Architectural expression - Language, form, materiality, and aesthetics (symbolism, spatial qualities, movement and experience, identity, sense). Will the design create a sense of enjoyment, satisfaction? 
  • Innovation - Does the design stand out, provide something new to the market or supplement/improve an existing product or service?

The Event

Announcement and presentation of the Awards will be made during the AIA-RI Design Awards Celebration on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 which will be held virtually. Publication and exhibition of award-winning projects will be sought by AIA-RI after the awards ceremony. 

Learn more about and purchase tickets to the 2020 Annual Meeting and Design Awards Celebration 


Email Roni Phipps at  



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