Submission Tips for the Canadian Architect Awards

This year’s deadline for submissions is Monday, September 11, 2023.

On August 1, we’re launching our 56th annual Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence.

For over five decades, our annual national awards program has recognized projects in the design stage. This year’s competition also includes the new Canadian Architect Photo Awards of Excellence. This year’s deadline for submissions is Monday, September 11, 2023 at 11:59PM (PST).

Are you ready to submit? Here are some tips to preparing your submission from editor Elsa Lam:

1. Do I qualify?

There’s two parts to our criteria for qualification. First is for the person submitting: the Awards of Excellence are open to all architects registered in Canada, as well as to Canadian architectural graduates who are not yet licensed. Foreign architects are permitted to submit, provided they have partnered with a Canadian-registered architect on their project.

Second part is for the project: projects must be in the design stage, scheduled for construction or under construction but not substantially complete by September 11, 2023.

All projects must be commissioned by a client with the intention to build the submitted proposal.


2. Pick your projects.

All building types and concisely presented urban design schemes are eligible. We’ve awarded projects of all sizes, recognizing that projects of different scales carry their own sets of challenges. Your project may even be located outside of Canada, provided that it was designed by a Canadian architect or Canadian architectural graduate.

Awards are given for architectural design excellence. Jurors will consider the scheme’s response to the client’s program, site, geographic and/or urban context. They will evaluate its physical organization, form, composition, building systems, concept, process, structure, materials, environmental features and/or demonstration of social awareness.

If you submitted a project in the past but it didn’t win, you are permitted to resubmit it. Every jury looks at entries with different eyes.

Can’t decide between multiple projects? You can submit more than one entry.


3. Take a look at some past award winners.

What does an award-winning project look like? The best way to see is by taking a look at our past award winners. For the 2017 and 2018 awards, you can download the PDFs of the original submissions to get ideas for your submission.


4. Get the video advantage.

For the past few years, we’ve included an option to submit a short video—up to two minutes in length—with your submission. Fewer than 10% of submissions have included a video. So, if you have the resources to put together a video—which could be as simple as a fly-through of a model—it can help jurors to understand your submission in greater depth.


5. Not too little, not too much.

Having the right amount of information is key to award-winning entries. What that means will vary from project to project.

Our peer jurors are experienced architects, so including key architectural plans and sections is crucial. Just diagrams? Probably too little. Working drawings? Probably too much. Renderings or model photographs can be helpful—if you have professional renderings available, send them along. But even a basic 3D view may assist in effectively communicating the project.

Your text should explain your project’s main ideas clearly. If it’s a heavily research-based project, it might need a longer text. In most cases, a lot can be said with a shorter text and strong images. Some of our past awarded entries have been as simple as a set of a six renderings with a few key drawings and a 500-word text.

Think about how you might present the project in a design crit, and use this as a measure for crafting your entry.


6. Submit ahead of time, or at the 11th hour 

Most of our entries arrive the evening of the deadline on Monday, September 11th, at 11:59 pm (PST). But if you have a bit of a slower period in August, consider using it to prepare and submit your entry.


For more information and to submit your entry starting August 1, visit