2023 Roberta Feldman Architecture for Social Justice Award Rules and Regulations


The Roberta Feldman Architecture for Social Justice Award was established in 2020 to honor excellence in built projects and design programs guided by the conviction that access to high quality architecture is not a privilege, it is a human right.

Architecture for Social Justice is defined by the following objectives: first, to engage a broader cross-section of society, especially those not typically able to access architectural services and, second, to create innovative design solutions that address complex social and economic inequities that impact these communities.

About the Award

This annual award celebrates the commitment of designers who work on behalf of the public good while receiving no or below market rate compensation.

In 2022, a monetary award of $2,500 will be given by the AIA Chicago Foundation for built projects and/or design programs that exemplify socially just design practices and impact. Honorable mentions may also be awarded and any monetary awards are at the discretion of the AIA Chicago Foundation.

About Roberta Feldman, Ph.D.

Roberta Feldman, Ph.D., is Professor Emerita at the University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Architecture. As an architectural activist, researcher, and educator she is committed to democratic design. Feldman’s work is grounded in the conviction that high quality design is a meaningful and necessary component of an equitable and sustainable society. Her expertise in such work has been recognized nationally and internationally.

Requirements and Instructions

Entry Fees and Deadlines
There is no cost to enter this award.
The submission deadline is strictly observed; no exceptions will be made.
All required text, images, and letters of support are uploaded through Award Force.

Submissions open: Tuesday, April 12, 2022
Submissions deadline: Friday, June 3, 2022, at 11:55pm

Entries may be submitted by and are limited to architecture firms, registered architects, architecture interns, architecture faculty and/or students who practice in or attend architecture school in the Chicago metropolitan area: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will in Illinois, and Lake and Porter counties in Indiana.

Types of Architecture for Social Justice Projects
The types of Architecture for Social Justice projects that will be honored include:

  1. Built projects at various scales of the environment, and,
  2. Design programs such as exhibits, research projects, websites, mentoring programs, advocacy projects, and other design projects that foster socially and economically equitable

Built Project and Program Location
The built projects and design programs may be located anywhere in the world. Uncompensated and undercompensated Design Fees While it is appreciated that all architectural and design services should be fully compensated, this award is intended for built projects and programs designed and implemented without conventional compensation, for instance, pro-bono or low bono, or through grants from non-development funding sources such as foundations, universities, government arts and design agencies, and others.

Additional Entry Criteria
Entries are required to meet the following additional criteria:

  • Entries must have been completed within the last 5 years.
  • Individuals and firms are permitted to re-enter built projects and programs that did not win this award or honorable mention in previous years.
  • A submission that has received other AIA Chicago awards is eligible to apply.
  • Any project or program that includes a jury member or a jury members' affiliation as architect, associate architect, consultant, or client-in any stage of the process-is ineligible and will be disqualified if submitted.

All of the design team member(s), consultant(s), and partner(s), should be acknowledged in the entry:

  • Submitting design team member(s) and, if relevant consultants, and their affiliations shall be included.
  • If the work was completed as an employee under the supervision of an architect(s), consultant(s), or architect or firm of record, this individual(s) and/or firm(s) shall be noted in the submission.
  • Similarly, if the work of a student(s) is completed under the supervision of their faculty, the faculty supervisor(s) and affiliation(s) shall be noted.
  • Key partners, for instance, organizations and individuals from the impacted community, funders, public agencies, and other key stakeholders shall be listed.
  • Individuals' names will be withheld from publication upon request.

Impact Evaluation Criteria
The following impact evaluation criteria will guide jurors in their review and decisions:

  • Equity: The contribution(s) of the built project and/or program to equitable social and economic consequences.
  • Engagement: Meaningful and inclusive community and/or other stakeholder(s)' participation and collaboration.
  • Problem solving: Constructive strategies that leverage designer(s)' and partner(s)' assets to address built project and programmatic challenges such as cost constraints, difficult and/or conflicting objectives, political obstacles, ethical dilemmas, and others.
  • Design excellence: High standards of design evident in built projects and programmatic materials.
  • Innovation: Effective, new methods and/or design solutions that address socially just design.
  • Replicability: Applicability and affordability of a project's or program's method(s), and design to meet the needs of other design practices.
  • Other qualities, described by the applicant, that are particularly relevant to the submitted built project and/or program.

Submission Application Details

Required Narrative
Enter a single narrative into the Award Force platform, with a maximum of 750 words total, addressing the following topics:

  • Statement of process describing needs and objectives, methods, and the final built project and/or program.
  • Impact statement providing an assessment of the project's and/or program's impacts with regards to the relevant evaluation criteria listed above. Whenever possible, evidence shall be given for assertions about satisfying the impact evaluation criteria.

Required Letters of Support
Submit at least one or up to two letters of support from the community and or governmental partner(s) and/or client(s) for the project. These are uploaded as PDFs to the Award Force platform.


  • Image 1: Promotional image (JPG or PNG only), to be used by AIA Chicago and the AIA Chicago Foundation for marketing purposes.
  • Images 3 - 11 (JPG or PNG only): Images of your choice.
    • NO COLLAGED SLIDES ARE ALLOWED. Only ONE image or drawing per slide.
    • "Images" are defined as drawings or photos.
    • Captions must include photography credit and cardinal direction of the exposed side.
    • Images may be edited to improve contrast ratio, color balance, and composition through cropping. Images may not be edited to add, remove, or alter any aspect or element of the project including its context. Images should represent the project as it exists in the built environment. Artistic composition must not confuse the jury as to the nature of the project.
    • All images MUST be captioned with:
      • View (cardinal direction view or floorplan); write N/A if you are submitting a detail
      • Photographer Name
      • Photographer Business Name (if applicable)
      • Do not include credits or captions on the image.

Photo Release
Please provide photo credit information upon uploading images. Find detailed instructions on how to input photo credits and captions in the 'Images' tab on the Award Force platform. DO NOT INSERT CREDITS OR CAPTIONS ONTO THE IMAGE.

Credits should be listed as they would appear in print and online. See also affirmation statements on 'Final Acknowledgments' tab on the Award Force platform. Note that by uploading images, entrants confirm that your firm has prior licensing approval to use the images and allow AIA Chicago and the AIA Chicago Foundation to display them for promotional and marketing purposes with proper attribution.

AIA Chicago and the AIA Chicago Foundation are not able to independently verify the information and claims made by entrants in their submittal and assume all members will follow the national AIA's Code of Ethics and Professional Standards. As such entrants shall indemnify AIA Chicago and AIA Chicago Foundation from any liability for erroneous information or content within the submittal. As noted above entrant shall assume sole responsibility for design and photo credits and copyrights that allow the AIA Chicago Foundation to award and represent the projects/designers and AIA Chicago to promote those selected by the jury.

The AIA Chicago Foundation will notify winners and non-winners following the final jury deliberations. No public announcement of any awards will be made by AIA Chicago or the AIA Chicago Foundation prior to the awards presentation at Designight. Winners are kindly asked not to make their own announcements prior to Designight.


Contact membervoices@aiachicago.org with any questions.