Design excellence is often the result of a well-planned and clearly executed design competition. Since founding the organization more than 150 years ago, members of the American Institute of Architects have taken a keen interest in architectural competitions. As early as 1870, with the “Schedule of Terms,” the AIA has issued guidance that defines fair conduct and a judicious process for selecting designs and architects through the competition process.
The AIA’s previous edition of the Handbook of Architectural Design Competitions was published in 1988. While not wholly outdated, that document needed to be revised in view of the proliferation of the new varieties of competition types and because competitions have become more visible and common. As architectural practice has grown to be more global and as the collaborative nature of the profession’s work has become more linear, the competition model demands a more sophisticated methodology.
This current edition draws upon the previous document and other literature as it explains how the metrics and process can be organized and how design competition has evolved. One only has to look at continental Europe’s history and booming construction in Asia, or our global U.S. practices, to see how the need for design competitions has grown proportionally.
Now that the competition process is more segmented, with varying models and “structural systems,” it is time to again offer guidance on organizing and executing competitions. This publication identifies the components of a well-run design competition and offers best practices for achieving success and top-quality architecture.