2021 Honor Awards

Reconnect and broaden conversations about resilience in design. On behalf of the Honor Awards Committee, we look forward to celebrating you in person with a renewed sense of urgency to undertake the grand social, environmental, and economic challenges we are facing.

While this has been a difficult year, it has also been a time for reflection. Our evolving public health crises, continued critical reckonings with systemic racism, and rapidly changing environments are intrinsically linked. Yet we remain optimistic in the innovations design can contribute, and believe in AIA Seattle’s vision for a culture of design that fosters equitable, resilient, and thriving communities.

You play a vital role in showcasing the design leadership in our region, and we encourage you to share your work by submitting to AIA Seattle’s 2021 Honor Awards for Washington Architecture. It’s a new year, a new jury, and a transition back to in person celebrations!

  • This year’s live event on November 8 will return to an in-person celebration of our greater design community, recognizing both project teams andfor the first time individual awardees. Components of the program will be shared virtually, enabling us to extend these celebrations to broader audiences.
  • As a part of the submissions form, AIA Seattle is continuing use of the Common App for Design Excellence in the Energy in Design Award evaluation. This tool is a natural evolution of the Energy in Design Calculator, and an exciting opportunity for all built submissions to move toward design that supports climate action.
  • The challenges of this past year and those that lie ahead have illuminated the importance of community and locality. This year, we encourage submitters to celebrate the people and place the project effects. This includes highlighting community impacts, emphasizing resiliency, describing the project’s benefits to both local and broader communities, and celebrating the project teams that contribute to visioning and building these projects.
  • In order to build a resilient future, it is important to take risks. Research provides safe testing grounds to engage with the extraordinary challenges and crises we face that will ultimately push practice forward. Now in its fourth year, we highly encourage submissions to the Research & Innovation category that highlight discoveries, experimentation, explorations, successes, and even failures from which we can learn and grow.

If you have never submitted before or your project has not yet been recognized, this is your moment to reconnect and contribute to broadening conversations about resilience in design. Download the 2021 Call for Submissions + Guidelines.

Ming-Lee Yuan, AIA & Catherine De Almeida, ASLA | Co-chairs, Honor Awards Committee


After logging into your existing Submittable account or creating a new one, you can start, save, and return to draft submissions at any point until the final deadline (5:00pm September 29).

Submit to one of three categories: BUILT, CONCEPTUAL, or RESEARCH & INNOVATION. For more details about the submission categories, requirements, and submitter eligibility, view the 2021 Call for Submissions + Guidelines.

White text on red background: click here to submit

Get your submissions in early! The first 25 unique submitters will receive two invitations to a special opening event to occur the evening of November 7! Beat the early bird deadline and save the date – you won’t want to miss this. More information will be shared after submissions close.

Reduced rate options are available (priority given to AIA members). Please submit the Scholarship / Reduced Rate Request Form via email by Wednesday, September 15.


Publicize your work—All submitted projects are featured in AIA Seattle’s public-facing Online Gallery, the perfect place for local and national design-hungry writers.
Reach a local and global audience—We will be returning to an in-person live awards event this November while showcasing some components virtually, providing an exciting opportunity for our design community to widely showcase work in and from Washington state.
Get ahead of the curve for other award programs—Now in its second year, AIA Seattle is implementing an updated Common App for Design Excellence for all Built submissions, in consideration for the Energy in Design Award. As a part of AIA moving towards design that supports climate action and with the goal to (eventually) centralize project performance data from across the nation, we suspect you’ll continue to see the Common App in other awards programs.
Build buzz about your firm—Use your firm’s recognition to leverage coverage of you and your projects in magazines and journals that are seen by peers and potential clients throughout the Northwest.
Put your creativity to work twice—Have a great project that never made it out of the design phase? Don’t let it go to waste! Submit to the Conceptual category. Are you doing research or fabrication to support a project or inform practice? Submit to the Research & Innovation category, added in 2018.
Refine your pitch— Submitting your project is a great way to hone how you communicate about your work. Those who have submitted in the past say that the process helped them speak about their work to clients and to fellow team members in a more coherent and persuasive way.
Build respect from peers and clients—Recognition from a panel of carefully chosen jurors adds to your firm’s credibility. The Awards themselves exhibit the breadth and depth of architectural talent here in and from Washington. This is a great way to showcase to the greater community our strength as a design community.


For complete details about the submission categories, file requirements, and submitter eligibility, download the 2021 Call for Submissions + Guidelines.

BUILT category submissions: Download and complete the updated Common App for Design Excellence!

Get inspired by past winners here. Awards are the final determination of the jury.


The submitted projects that receive awards have one thing in common; they convey the design process in a way that answers the what, where, why, and how of the project. We encourage submitters to consider how the jury will interpret one or more considerations in connection to the project’s design story and explore: what makes this an award-winning project? From revealing discussion to the practicalities of completing the updated Common App for Design Excellence (for applicable BUILT submissions), this Interactive Q&A Webinar will provide the insights you’ve been looking for. Join members of the Honor Awards Committee and the Integrated Design Lab online Thursday, August 26, 12:00-1:00pm PT and get support in shaping your successful submission.

Thursday, August 26 | 12:00 – 1:00 PM PT | Shaping Successful Submissions: Interactive Q&A Webinar

A recording of Shaping Successful Submissions: Interactive Q&A Webinar can be found here. Feel free to share! 


Now in its second year, AIA Seattle is implementing an updated Common App for Design Excellence for use in the Energy in Design Award evaluation, and we ask that all applicable submitters do their best to complete the full form. This tool is a natural evolution of the Energy in Design Calculator—you’ll notice that section is color-coded green within the form—and a revolutionary opportunity for all applicable BUILT submissions to move toward design that supports climate action. 

We’re here to make the submission process as simple as possible. Questions about the Common App for Design Excellence? View last year’s tutorial recording! Additionally, Integrated Design Lab is available to offer technical support for the Common App during “office hour” dates Wednesday, September 22 – Friday, September 24. E-mail Chris Meek (cmeek@uw.edu) with the subject line “AIA Seattle Common App.”

Want a deeper dive? Read more about The Common App: Moving Towards Design That Supports Climate Action + The Common App for Awards Alignment.


Every year, jurors praise submissions that reveal the story behind the marketing images. What concepts and considerations drove the design? How did the design team creatively address the project parameters? What is the project’s benefit or impact? Ultimately, what makes this an award-winning project? We encourage submitters to use the project narrative, captions, and the inclusion of process work as opportunities to graphically tell a design story. Submit to start a dialogue with the jury.  

In addition to the jury’s own criteria, the AIA Seattle community has identified four considerations for the submission review process:

  • Inspiration | How does the project manifest its stated intent–in form and function–revealing innovation in both thought and practice?
  • Problem-solving | How does the project creatively address challenges inherent in its site, budget, program, materials, collaboration, and context? What are the organizing principles informing design?
  • Environmental Sensitivity | How does the project exhibit serious intent to minimize negative environmental impact and enhance its relationship to the environment?
  • Social Impact | How does the project enhance the community in which it is situated? How does it help promote a vibrant and equitable community?

Additionally, the Common App offers BUILT project submitters Ten Measures for Design Excellence to consider as you tell your project story. 


Katherine Darnstadt AIA, NOMA, LEED AP | Latent Design | Chicago

Katherine Darnstadt is the founder of Latent Design, a progressive architecture and urbanism firm leveraging civic innovation and social impact to design more equitable spaces and systems. Since founding her practice in 2010, Katherine and her firm have prototyped new urban design systems to advance urban agriculture, support small business, created spaces for youth makers, advanced building innovation, and created public space frameworks. She and the firm have been published, exhibited and featured widely, most notably at the International Venice Architecture Biennial, Architizer A+ Awards, Chicago Ideas Week, NPR, American Institute of Architects Young Architects Honor Award winner and Crain’s Chicago 40 Under 40. She currently teaches at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and previously at Northwestern University.

Sharon Johnston FAIA | Johnston Marklee | Los Angeles

Sharon Johnston, FAIA, is founding partner of Los Angeles-based firm Johnston Marklee and Professor in Practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Since its establishment in 1998, Johnston Marklee has been recognized internationally with over 50 major awards. Projects by Johnston Marklee span thirteen countries and are diverse in scale and type. Recent projects include the Menil Drawing Institute in Houston; a renovation of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; the new Dropbox global headquarters in San Francisco; and the new UCLA Margo Leavin Graduate Art Studios in Culver City. Publications on the work of the firm include House Is a House Is a House Is a House Is a House (Birkhauser, 2016); 2G N. 67 and El Croquis N. 198. In 2019, Sharon was named Architectural Record’s Women in Architecture: New Generation Leader. Together with partner Mark Lee, Sharon was Co-Artistic Director of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Helena Zambrano AIA, CPHC | Mahlum | Portland

Helena is a licensed architect in the United States and Mexico with over 10 years of national and international experience. She is a Project Architect at Mahlum with a passion for environmental systems, and a strong advocate for the use of evidence to inform design. Emphasizing the design of daylit spaces, Helena’s work has been recognized with local, national, and international design awards. Prior to joining Mahlum, Helena was Sustainability Director at Overland Partners in San Antonio, TX.  She currently serves on the AIA’s National Committee on the Environment, in which capacity she worked to establish the Framework for Design Excellence and led the development of both the “COTE Super Spreadsheet” and the ‘“AIA Common App”, two tools that raise the status of sustainability metrics and reframe the way design awards recognize architecture.


Jury Deliberations will take place virtually this year. Each juror individually reviews all projects submitted before group deliberations. Over the course of two days (this year online), the jury will agree on criteria and selections for award recognition. Awards are the final determination of the jury.


Initiated in 2018, the Young Voices Selection (YVS) program aims to elevate and engage the voices of young designers through direct participation and representation in AIA Seattle’s Honor Awards for Washington Architecture. Three young designers, nominated by firm leaders within AIA Seattle’s Firm Network and selected by the Honor Awards Committee, will be given the opportunity to review, deliberate, and select ONE Built project submission. This chosen project, the “Young Voices Selection,” will be recognized at the live event in November.

WHO IS A ‘YOUNG’ VOICE? While the definition of ‘young’ is debatable, this program is very clear on its aim to reinforce the value of young perspectives considering both career experience and generational/lived experience, and we set the cap at 30 years of age for this reason. After leaving the creative hub and intellectual rigor of university, young people often find themselves without clear and direct avenues to participate in serious design discourse (though they are valued for their technical skill sets). The Young Voices Selection program aims to reinforce the value of young people and young designers for their unique perspectives, and the YVS program establishes a sanctioned platform for these perspectives to be widely shared.

ELIGIBILITY: Nominees for the Young Voices Selection Panel who are 30 years of age or younger must be currently employed at an AIA Seattle Firm Network firm. The nominees must also be Individual AIA members themselves. They may not currently be enrolled in any higher education programs.

NOMINATE: Complete the 2021 Young Voices Selection Nomination Form by 5:00pm September 15 to nominate one candidate for consideration.


Questions about Submitting or the Live Event? Contact AIA Seattle Programs Manger, Zoe Guckenheimer.

Sponsorship Questions? Contact AIA Seattle Associate Director, Growth & Operations, Kristen Lound.



BetterBricks | Dovetail | Hoffman Construction Company | Inform Interiors | Sellen ConstructionUSI Insurance ServicesAHBL | Alaska Airlines | Atlas Supply / Dowsil | Berger Partnership | Cary Kopczynski & Company, Inc.Eakman ConstructionFSi EngineersGLY Construction, Inc.Hargis Engineers, Inc. | Lane PowellMagnusson Klemencic AssociatesMalsam Tsang Structural EngineeringMicrosol Resources Corp. | PCL Construction Services, Inc.PCS Structural Solutions | Quantum Consulting Engineers | SchuchartSkanskaSwenson Say FagetThomas Fragnoli ConstructionThornton Tomasetti | GRAY

Seattle Design Festival

Kalidespace by CallisonRTKL and Bayley Construction at SDF 2021

Seattle Design Festival

Seattle Design Festival connected designers, community members and civic leaders to explore the ways design improves our city and our lives - August 21-22, 2021. Read more