August 25, 2007
by Canadian Architect
The international Berkeley Prize for Undergraduate Design Excellence launches on November 1, 2008. Each year the Berkeley Prize, whose primary goal is to foster a larger awareness and understanding of the social art of architecture, sponsors an essay competition and a travel fellowship competition open to undergraduates studying architecture throughout the world.
A total of $7,500 in prize money is awarded to the essay competition winners. The Travel Fellow is given round-trip airfare and a stipend to attend a major international architectural event in the summer of 2008.
Students are asked to submit a 500-word essay proposal in response to a posted question. The 2008 Prize question revolves around the role competitions can play in promoting a more social architecture. The proposals are due in mid-December, 2007.
Approximately 25 student semi-finalists are invited to expand their proposal into a 2,500-word essay due in mid-February, 2008. From this pool, 5-7 finalist essays are forwarded to the 2008 Berkeley Prize Essay jury, who will select first, second, and third place winners.
This year the Essay Jury includes: Lynne Elizabeth, Director, New Village Press (Architects and Planners for Social Responsibility). Oakland, California; Marielle Richon, UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Paris; Daves Rossell, Professor of Architectural History, Savannah College of Art, Savannah, Georgia; and Hasan Uddin-Khan, Distinguished Professor of Architecture and Historic Preservation, Roger Williams University, Bristol, Rhode Island.
The top semi-finalists are also offered the opportunity to compete for the 2008 Berkeley Prize Travel Fellowship award. This years destination will be announced late in the fall. In past years, Travel Fellows have participated in the Global Studio in Johannesburg, South Africa; attended the United Nations Habitat Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; the International Union of Architects Congress in Istanbul, Turkey; and Forum Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain.
This years Travel Fellowship jury includes: Budoor Bukhari American University of Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (2007 Berkeley Prize Travel Fellow); Raymond Lifchez, Professor of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley, California; Tony Schuman, Associate Professor of Architecture, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey; and Adi Shamir, Executive Director, Van Alen Institute, New York, New York.
In celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Berkeley Prize, there will be a third competition sponsored this year: the Architectural Design Competition. This competition is held to generate ideas about how architects can find solutions to what they feel are the most important social issues in their country. Semi-finalists will be invited to submit proposals for a design competition to be held at their school towards this end. The Berkeley Prize will select the proposal that seems to have the most chance of success and support the winning students school with funds to encourage the school to actually hold the competition.
This years Berkeley Prize is dedicated to one of the worlds most prestigious architectural awards program, the international Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Established to identify and encourage building concepts that successfully address the needs and aspirations of societies in which Muslims have a significant presence, the awards program has helped reveal an architecture of humanism that transcends religion, race, or nationality.
The Berkeley Prize is consistently becoming more international. The 2007 Essay winners (in this instance, a team) were from Canada; the 2007 Travel Fellow is a Sudanese student studying in the United Arab Emirates. Over the past ten years, over 1,000 students from over 40 countries have participated in the various competitions.
The outreach of the Berkeley Prize expanded in 2003 with the Competition being named a Special Event of World Heritage in the Digital Age, a Virtual Congress helping to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. This special recognition also highlights the fact that the entire operations of the Prize, including all submittals and judging are done online.
The Berkeley Prize is also the recipient of the 2002 American Institute of Architects Education Honor Award.
The full agenda and history of the Berkeley Prize are best explained by visiting the website at www.berkeleyprize.org. This includes archives of all of the years competitions. A summary article regarding the Berkeley Prize has also appeared in the environmental journal, Places(www.berkeleyprize.org/downloads/PLAC1701_64-71.pdf ). Other references can also be found on the website.