8 Best practices for running an architecture awards program

by | May 13, 2022 | Articles, Blog

Who doesn’t love beautiful buildings? 

In fact, they’re often the hallmarks of cities and locations around the world.  

Architecture goes beyond fitting bricks and glass to create a building. Far beyond the basic need of shelter, it’s a vital aspect of culture and a form of art that not only pleases the eyes but also warms the mind with the ambience it creates. 

And an awards program is a wonderful way to celebrate the achievements in the industry. As a matter of fact, there are a variety of highly prestigious awards in architecture.

If you’re interested in running your own architecture awards program, we can help! Managing an awards program requires a lot of planning and coordination. And we’re happy to provide some tips on how to make an architecture awards program successful. Keep reading for some best practices.   

1. Determine the goals and audience of the architecture awards program

The first best practice for running an architecture awards program is to identify the goals you hope to achieve. This step is crucial because it ensures the direct impact of the architecture awards program isn’t disjointed from your organisation’s target. 

Your goals in running an architecture contest could include to:

  • Educate architects and design professionals on new concepts, methods of construction, laws, etc.
  • Promote new materials and design standards
  • Create new relationships within the architecture and design industry
  • Celebrate groundbreaking and impressive designs
  • Promote more sustainable design and construction practices

Equally important is defining the target audience of the architecture contest. Is the architecture contest open to regional, national or international professionals? Can students or brands participate?

Identifying your audience will guide your choice of awards, the direction and scope of your marketing efforts and even your budget.         

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2. Organise the awards program

Having figured out the goals and audience of the architecture awards program, now it’s time to get organised. Since an architecture awards program, much like other awards programs, involves multiple considerations, it’s important to plan out each phase of the awards lifecycle. 

Without proper coordination, there’s a possibility of something slipping through the cracks. The awards program could flop due to insufficient funds, disputes about who actually owns the submissions or confusion over the rules of the competition.

To ensure the architecture awards program runs smoothly, spell out the following:

  • Budget: Consider the expenses of the awards program, whether for marketing, operations, the purchase of prizes or even the celebration of winners.
  • Eligibility and registration: It’s necessary to pinpoint who can take part in the architecture contest. Whether on the basis of age, level or location, this will save you the stress of dealing with ineligible entries. You need to also make clear the registration process, and point out the necessary fees to be paid, if any.
  • Rules of participation: Decide on and clearly communicate the terms of participation to the entrants.   
  • The entry form: Decide the questions and criteria you need to help judge each submission, and plan what the submission should include. Make considerations for any file attachments such as videos, photos or blueprints. It’s important to make the submission process easy and streamlined for the entrants.
  • Overall competition schedule: Plan a timeline for the architecture awards program. State the participant’s deadlines for registration and submissions. Also, pinpoint the date for judging and when the winners will be announced. 
  • Intellectual property rights: Communicate what will happen to the submissions, whether the participants will still have the rights to their designs or whether they’ll relinquish those rights to you.         

Coming to terms on these matters will ensure your program’s success and limit any problems or confusion in the future.      

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3. Leverage award management software

Dealing with the different aspects of an architecture awards program can prove tedious, particularly if you’re operating manually.  However, an awards management software streamlines the entire process, simplifying and streamlining your entire awards lifecycle. 

A good awards management software can power your program to:

  • Allow multi-format submissions
  • Accept unlimited uploads and attachments
  • Provide smooth entrant registration or nominations by third parties
  • Promote easy submission 
  • Enable seamless evaluation of entrants’ submissions
  • Showcase submissions through visually stunning galleries
  • Utilise  powerful and easy-to-track judging modes
  • Theme your awards platform to match your organisation’s branding 

Architecture awards management software is good for your organisation, the entrants and even the judges. The beauty, ease of operation and responsiveness are elements you don’t want to miss out on. 

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4. Imbue the architecture awards program with credibility 

The architectural industry is one of high repute. Therefore, if the awards program appears to be skewed in favour of certain people or seems to lack solidity, it will certainly lose its appeal. This makes it imperative for the architecture contest to demonstrate integrity.

This will leave no room for doubts about the fairness of the process.

One way to build integrity into your program is to plan your judging panels accordingly. The judging panel could comprise renowned persons in the field of architecture who have varied but well balanced technical, design and educational views. Having respected names with actual experience and remarkable instances of architectural work can boost the authenticity and professionalism of the architecture awards program. 

Also, build credibility by planning and sticking to your program’s stated time period. Submissions open, submissions closed, judging period started, judging period finished, winners announced: all of these stages of the program should be clearly stated and followed.

Data is life, and people are increasingly concerned about it. To further maintain your architecture award program’s authority, ensure any software or system you use has proven security compliances.

With sturdy security and compliance features, you can protect the participants’ data while ensuring you’re compliant with all data laws.  

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5. Define the prizes and participation incentives

What’s an awards program without a prize, really? 

There’s no gainsaying that the idea of winning a prize attracts many to take part in contests. Thus, you must define the rewards that will go to the winner of the architecture contest. It’s also a good idea to provide consolation prizes and recognition packages for runners-up and other participants.

The prizes and participation incentives could take any of the following forms:

  • Prize money
  • Certificates 
  • Award trophies
  • Professional opportunities
  • Educational opportunities
  • Travelling exhibits

Ensure the prizes and incentives are of good value and will matter to the participants. If your prize doesn’t strike a note, the chances of architects and designers registering for the awards program might suffer.

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6. Market the architecture awards program intensively

Do you know that an architecture awards program can serve as an excellent marketing channel?

Your architecture contest can be used to put your organisation’s name out to the world. To achieve this, employ both traditional and digital channels to publicise every aspect and stage of the architecture awards program. Your social media channels, online advertising, press releases, public relation campaigns, email marketing and even your website are means to spread the word.

(Learn more about how to create awareness for your awards programs using social media.)  

You can also leverage, your judges and participants to share the awards program across social media to help extend your program’s reach. While you market the program, don’t hesitate to emphasise the prizes and other benefits that the winner(s) and participants will receive.

Proper marketing of your architecture contest attracts the eyes of other professionals, institutions and, possibly, the government! That visibility is exactly what you’re looking for.     

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7. Announce and celebrate the winners

Once the judging process is over, it’s time to announce the winners. You can either announce the winners on social media, via traditional channels or at a gala event. 

Upon the announcement of the winners, promptly deliver the prizes and benefits to whom it’s due. Ensure the prizes and recognition packages are exactly as announced. Encourage the winners to make social media posts, whether pictures or videos, with the prizes to confirm receipt.

This will further endorse the credibility of the program.  

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8. Evaluate the success of the architecture awards program

Your architecture contest doesn’t really come to an end when you hand the prizes out to the winners. While it might be over for the participants, that’s hardly the case for you and your organisation. A common best practice for running an architecture awards program is to assess the architecture competition post-contest.

This involves measuring how the program impacted the participants as well as the effect it had on your organisation’s publicity. Evaluating the awards program is crucial because it identifies whether or not the original goals were actually achieved. 

Additionally, a concrete assessment uncovers areas that might need to be tweaked to perfection. It also births new goals and ideas that can be implemented in your next awards season.

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In closing

Architecture is a significant part of civilisation, and recognising and rewarding excellence in architecture is a commendable effort. 

Identifying your goals and target audience, utilising powerful awards management software, defining the prizes, properly marketing the awards program and evaluating your program in the end will help your architecture awards program grow to new heights.   

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