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Design Pittsburgh 2023

Design Pittsburgh is a signature program of AIA Pittsburgh, celebrating excellence in architecture and design, and honoring those who create it. It is our opportunity as a community to publicly promote architects as critical resources and industry experts, and demonstrate the importance of great design in the Pittsburgh region. This program provides an opportunity for AIA Pittsburgh members, sponsors, partners, and the public to support and acknowledge the value of architecture and design in the places where they live, work, and play.

The 2023 Design Pittsburgh Awards program is accepting eligible project submissions through 11:59 pm on Sunday, August 27, 2023.


  1. An intent to submit form is required this year. The form is available here: https://forms.gle/fiQQCXNui84XfDe28

  2. Project submissions now have the option of including Price per Square Foot in submission information.  This detail can help a jury contextualize the project's scope and constraints.  This information is optional and may be omitted if the client / owner prefer not to disclose costs.  
  3. The Unbuilt category has been renamed to Conceptual / Unbuilt to help clarify the type of projects to be included in this category. Projects expected to be built, but have not yet begun construction, are not eligible.


Cost per project entry: $175.  Project boards are no longer required for submissions. This decision is a reflection of our Chapter values and overall AIA strategic priorities of sustainability and equity.  AIA Pittsburgh office will use submission images and project intent/overview for Peoples' Choice Award voting, to produce a display piece for the event, and to promote member work on our website and social media.  


All submission forms, file uploads and payments will be done in the OpenWater portal.

If you have previously submitted a project with an AIA component that uses OpenWater, you already have an account  and will be able to login with your credentials. If you have not previously submitted an entry, you will automatically create an account when you begin an entry the first time.

After creating an entry application, you may begin working on your forms and uploading the required files. You can save your work as you go and return to the site as often as needed, but not after finalizing and submitting the entry. All submission materials and entry fee payments must be completed and submitted by the submission deadline (11:59PM on Sunday, August 27). Once a submission is complete for a particular project, that project may be submitted to another chapter awards program without re-entry or uploading. 


Important Reminders:

  • All information will be used as entered on the website gallery and for publicationPlease be thorough and consistent in completing your field entries and double-check for spelling errors

  • Use N/A or other appropriate text in fields that are mandatory if there is no info or it's not pertinent to your project

Tips for Creating Strong Awards Entries:

  • Consider investing in photography - it really can make or break a project. Use a professional photographer if possible. Starting and ending with good photography is key for a great presentation of the project.

  • Include photographs, drawings, floor plans, elevations, sections, renderings and graphic images as necessary to provide a clear understanding of the extent and quality of the finished project.

  • Include details: interiors, details, secondary and tertiary views or sides.

  • Let the images tell the story as narratives rarely live up to the architecture. Brevity helps clarity.

  • Find ways in which particular solutions can be clearly represented – that are transformational and intrinisic to the design proposal.

  • Show the process of getting to the refined, final result – how the architect went through the design process in order to get where they were. Represent the creative thought process.

  • Strong conceptual clarity is important. How did the architect take various programmatic concerns and look beyond straightforward solutions to create exceptional, innovative design responses?

  • Renovations, restorations, additions and conversions should present “before” and “after” photographs. For projects involving changes to existing structures, documentation of original conditions is highly recommended. Include process sketches that communicate the development of the project and/or its construction.

  • Indicate the project’s physical context or site character through graphics and/or imagery.

  • Unbuilt projects should include floor plans, elevations, sections, renderings, graphic images, and/or site plans as necessary to provide a clear understanding of the project. If client-commissioned, include photos of the site location. 


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