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While jurors reserve the right to emphasize certain priorities or introduce new standards of excellence, Design Awards juries have historically assessed entries using the following criteria:

  • Innovation in devising solutions or meeting specific needs
  • Technical and functional proficiency
  • Contribution to local identity
  • Environmental performance that meets or surpasses GSA goals
  • Cost effectiveness on a life-cycle basis
  • Timely project delivery
  • Ability of the project to serve as a model for other GSA projects

Your narrative should broach these points accordingly. For Construction Excellence submissions, however, the narrative should focus on the construction process and quality of the finished product. Applicants may consider the following questions as a guide:

  • Was the project completed on or below budget? If not, give the reason.
  • Was the project completed on or ahead of schedule? If not, why?
  • Was value engineering performed? If so, what was its effect on the project’s budget, schedule, and quality?
  • How was partnering handled to maintain a positive working relationship among all project team members?
  • How were conflicts resolved?
  • How were unforeseen conditions or change orders managed to mitigate impact on schedule and budget?
  • Did the project win any local craftsmanship awards? Have users provided testimonials about the quality of the facility?

Below are answers to several frequently asked questions surrounding previous awards cycles, as well as questions that are specific to 2022. Please contact design.awards@gsa.gov for additional information; popular queries will be shared with all entrants prior to this year’s submission deadline.

Eligibility for the 2022 GSA Design Awards spans 10 years. Will a considerably older project be judged according to topics that have come to the fore more recently, like increased telework or embodied carbon?

  • No. Our expert jurors will assess a submission by the best practices of its time. A deserving project at its core, moreover, should embody the Guiding Principles of Federal Architecture. Although that document is now six decades old, its philosophy has proven remarkably adaptable to new interpretations and emerging phenomena.

I am submitting a workplace interior, but the project’s budget did not include funds for professional photography. Will jurors think less of my entry as a result?

  • Historically, workspace submissions have lacked professional photography for the reason you mention. Because photographic quality can have a persuasive effect on any viewer, we specifically ask jurors to look past imagery and consider a workplace project’s more inherent merits, such as its diversity of spatial experiences, fostering of agency morale, and accommodation of new technologies and work cultures.

Why is conservation included in an awards program dedicated to design?

  • Historically, jurors have considered a conservation project not only on technical grounds, but also in terms of the conservator’s sensitivity to the fabric and intent of the environment in which that artwork was originally installed.

Previous awards cycles championed sustainability and integrated design overtly. What happened to these emphases?

  • Sustainability was once a standalone awards category. Now that environmental high performance is fundamental to every GSA decision, jurors consider sustainability in every relevant category by rote. Although integrated design was never its own category, it too has become more presumed by jurors as the practice is increasingly standardized.

How do you define a building or artwork that contributes to local identity?

  • Historically, jurors debate whether a project is appropriate for its place: that it ‘reads’ as work of the federal government without being intimidating; that it is informed by the material and (in the case of buildings) passive-sustainability traditions of the region; that it is both timeless and optimistic, and possesses a level of cultural ambition in which a local community may feel proud