Unique in their approach to creating a jury, these awards encompass the views of business professionals, real estate developers, community advocates, and academic leaders in addition to architects.  The Merit Awards were established to recognize projects by AIA Minneapolis architects that:

  • Tell the story of excellence beyond design
  • Emphasize public interest design
  • Embrace the varied forces that shape a building

The Michael L. Schrock, AIA, distinction to the Merit Award was created in 2008, in honor of the architect whose passion helped develop the AIA Minneapolis Awards. This distinction is awarded to the project that most embodies the philosophy of the AIA Minneapolis Merit Awards.

2024 AIA Minneapolis Merit Awards

The submission window for the 2024 Merit Awards has closed.


All projects designed by AIA Minneapolis Chapter registered architects and firms. Projects must be complete by the time of the deadline for submittal. Projects themselves may be located anywhere in the world. Firms of all sizes are encouraged to submit. Projects that have been previously submitted are welcome. Previous AIA Minnesota Honor Award project winners are not eligible. Merit Award winning projects are not excluded from AIA Minnesota Honor Awards.

Selection Criteria

The Merit Award jurors will evaluate projects based on how well they respond to the selection criteria:


Level of success as determined by how well the design supports the health and wellbeing of the client or user; promoting occupant comfort, connection to nature, and/or a healthy lifestyle. Level of success from thoughtful strategies involving discovery and delight and/or lessons learned from previous projects.


How the project addresses critical social, economic and/or environmental needs of the community while reflecting a diversity of values while promoting human connections, at a human scale.


How the project reduces its burden on the environment and dependence on fossil fuels through informed material selection i.e. locally sourced materials & craft; responsible watershed; design resiliency and livability all while benefitting flora and fauna.


How and to what extent the project addresses issues of economic development by adding value for owners and occupants regardless of the project size and budget; a project which provides abundance while living within its means.


Unique technologies employed to meet the expectations of the program, pulling from the grass roots of its organization.

Submissions must be anonymous. If any authorship is revealed on any images or project summaries viewed by the jury, the entry will be disqualified.

The primary philosophy of these awards is the focus on the story of a project. The project description should share that story through the above listed criteria. Your story is compelling and may be a bit different than expected – celebrate and honor the story your building has to tell!


Merit Awards Jury
The jury composition for this award is one of the key factors that makes this award unique. Jury members will be comprised of business, real estate, community and academic leaders, as well as architects. 

Submission Requirements

Submissions must include the following:

  • Completed Entry Form
  • Project summary narrative (200-250 words)
  • One-page project description which provides a narrative on how the project responds to the criteria listed above
  • Feedback from the end users, (quotes, letters, articles, etc.) 
  • 8–12 photographs, prints and/or drawings (jpg format). At least one image showing the site context

To better understand the story, the jury will – if possible – visit the projects that are short listed. When it is not feasible or gatherings in person are not advised, the jury can decide based on the materials submitted, and/or connect with the office of the architect, users, and/or clients. 

$25 entry fee per entry

Award Presentation

The Merit Awards will be presented at an AIA Minneapolis lunch event in July. More details will be listed here soon. 


If you have any questions or concerns related to the AIA Minneapolis Merit Award process, please email AIA Minnesota staff liaison Chris Hudson or call (612) 767-1746.


2022 Recipients

Bentz Thompson Rietow’s Fergus Falls Public Library Addition and Remodel is the result of a multi-year community process that provides youth focused library amenities in a building that emphasizes the character of the local landscape and community while incorporating sustainable practices, adaptability, and efficient use of resources.

LEO A DALY’s Hennepin County Medical Examiner office and examination facility sets a new national precedent for buildings of this use through innovative design and emphasis on creating a work environment that focuses on occupant wellness with unprecedented access to natural light, the outdoors, and restorative spaces for those who conduct the technical and often traumatic work.

JLG Architects’ White Bear Lake Sports Center Renovation is a building that has navigated a 50 year-long journey including being relocated, reassembled, and repurposed into a Center primed for sustainable, economical, and environmentally responsible operations, that also reconnects the community and empowers its youth to lead healthy, active lives.

Cuningham and Full Circle Indigenous Planning’s Mino-Bimaadiziwin Apartments is a multifamily housing development that incorporates sustainable design principals, features indoor and outdoor common gathering spaces, incorporates a medicine garden, and playground space located in the heart of Minneapolis’ Native American Cultural Corridor and provides much-needed affordable housing units. The Mino-Bimaadiziwin Apartments received the additional honor of being selected for the 2022 Michael L. Schrock, AIA Merit Award.

View the 2022 Minneapolis Merit Award press release.

2021 Recipients

Busch Architects, Inc.’s Cedar Riverside Opportunity Center
Ryan A+E, Inc.’s Downtown East Urban Master Plan
UrbanWorks Architecture’s Guild Crisis and Recovery Center 
Perkins&Will’s Mankato Clinical Sciences Building at Minnesota State University 
Miller Dunwiddie’s Silver Ramp 
LEO A DALY’s Second Harvest Heartland Headquarters, Volunteer Center and Distribution Center

View the 2021 Minneapolis Merit Award press release.

2020 Minneapolis Merit Award Recipients

LEO A DALY’s Anoka County Centennial Library Renovation and Expansion
MacDonald & Mack Architect’s Arvonne Fraser Library
Perkins and Will’s Land O’Lakes Headquarters Expansion
Ryan A+E, Inc.’s Millwright Building at Downtown East
Alliiance’s University of Minnesota John T. Tate Hall Renovation
Alliiance’s University Enterprise Laboratories Renovation and Addition
UrbanWorks Architecture’s Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) Center for Adult Learning

View the 2020 Minneapolis Merit Award press release.


2019 Minneapolis Merit Award Recipients

Bell Museum, Perkins and Will 
Lora, ESG Architecture & Design
Target Center Renovation, Alliance
YouthLink and Project for Pride in Living, UrbanWorks Architecture LLC
Hennepin County Webber Park Library, Lawal Scott Erickson (LSE) Architects, Inc. 
Westminster Presbyterian Church Addition and Renovation, James Dayton Design Ltd.

View the 2019 Minneapolis Merit Awards press release.

2018 Minneapolis Merit Award Recipients

The Shed at Crown Center, RoehrSchmitt Architecture, LLC
Columbia Heights Public Library, HGA Architects & Engineers
Ohm Sweet Ohm, SALA Architects
The Simons Livery Stable, U+B Architecture and Design
The Science Mill, Alliiance

View the 2018 Minneapolis Merit Awards press release.

2017 Minneapolis Merit Award Recipients

Be the Match, Perkins+Will
DC Group Office Headquarters, UrbanWorks Architecture, LLC
Fireman’s Park & Chaska Curling and Event Center, 292 Design Group
Sandcastle, LOCUS Architecture
South Minneapolis OfficeLOCUS Architecture
Twin Cities Academy, Kodet Architectural Group, Ltd.

View the 2017 Minneapolis Merit Awards press release.

2016 Minneapolis Merit Award Recipients

BKV Group’s A-Mill Artist Lofts 
Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc.’s Twin Cities PBS (TPT) 
Perkins+Will’s St. Louis County Government Services Center Renovation 
U+B Architecture & Design’s Kiran Stordalen and Horst Rechelbacher Pediatric Pain, Palliative and Integrative Medicine 

View the 2016 Minneapolis Merit Awards press release.

2015 Minneapolis Merit Award Recipients

Locus Architects and Isenberg Associates’ East Side Enterprise Center
BKV Group’s Schmidt Artist Lofts
CITYDESKSTUDIO, Inc.’s Peppers & Fries
Alliiance’s Xcel Energy Hiawatha West Substation Enclosure
Shelter Architecture’s Dwan Maintenance Building

Download the 2015 Minneapolis Merit Awards press release.

2014 Minneapolis Merit Award Recipients

Perkins+Will’s Wadena Deer-Creek Middle School + High School
Kodet Architectural Group, Ltd.’s MnDOT Maple Grove Vehicle Maintenance Facility
Miller Dunwiddie Architecture, Inc.’s Unity Church – Unitarian
Kodet Architectural Group, Ltd.’s Hmong College Prep Academy