Each year, the American Institute of Architects (AIA)—a professional organization for architects in the United States—hosts the Small Projects Awards, which recognizes high-quality, small-scale projects that range in program and type, but are all completed under a specific budget based on three distinct categories. The program, the AIA says, "strives to raise public awareness of the value and design excellence that architects bring to projects, no matter the limits of size and scope."
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Each year, entries are submitted by early-November (this year, entries are still being accepted now until November 13) and are evaluated by a distinguished jury, after which awards are announced. A theme is selected that helps assess each entry and how it engages with the idea, concepts, and elements related to the theme. This year’s theme is Renewal, and is intentionally left open for interpretation.
With the previous year’s theme, Reflection, winners ranged from open-air, bent-steel pavilions and prefabricated cabins to a gabled supportive transitional housing facility for new mothers and a compact glass-and-wood home in Washington state.
Other projects of the 2017 awards included a home and studio for a photographer with a glass cage, a pavilion with panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains, a private, faceted observatory inspired by its gray granite surroundings, a barn in North Carolina with an angled roof, and public restrooms with poured-in-place concrete and weathered steel.
"A small project can make a big impact, and a single design element can set the tone for large projects," says the host of the awards. To cover a spectrum of project sizes and budgets, the awards are divided into three categories: projects with a construction cost of under $150,000; projects with a construction cost of under $1.5 million; and projects under 5,000 square feet.
The awards are hosted by one of the AIA’s many Knowledge Communities, the Small Project Practitioners, which serves as a nexus for small firms and designers of small projects. The community generates, collects, and distributes knowledge in the form of articles, awards, research grants, resources, and discussions with tips. They've hosted the Small Project Awards for 14 years now.
If you have a fitting project you'd like to have considered, submit it here by November 13!