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 Michael, who’s 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.

2020 Award

Call for entries for 2020 will open in late April 2020.


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:

  • Client/team satisfaction – level of success as determined by the client (s) and/or users
  • Community impact – how the project addresses critical social, economic, and/or environmental needs of the community while reflecting a diversity of values
  • Environmental responsibility – how the project reduces its burden to the environment
  • Technical innovation – passive and active technologies employed
  • Budget/business success – how and to what extent the project met the budget and addressed issues of economic development
  • Architectural solution – how the project embraced the program

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 Award Jury
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 – available April 2019
  • Project summary (200 word maximum)
  • 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 color photographs, prints and/or drawings (jpg format). At least one image showing the site context
To better understand the story, the jury will visit the projects that are short listed. Where it is not feasible to visit a project, the jury can decide based on the materials submitted, and/or a visit to the office of the architect can be arranged. 

$25 entry fee per entry

Award Presentation

The Merit Awards will be presented at a luncheon on Thursday, July 16, 2020.
Selected projects will appear in an advertisement placed in Architecture MN magazine.


If you have any questions or concerns related to the AIA Minneapolis Merit Award process, please email Amber Allardyce, Deputy Executive Director or call (612) 338-6763.

2019 Minneapolis Merit Awards

  • Perkins and Will’s Bell Museum, located as a strategic gateway to the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota, showcases the University’s reputation for innovative research, education, and public engagement.
  • ESG Architecture & Design’s Lora, carved into stone cliffs in Stillwater along the St. Croix River, is a creative repurpose of four dilapidated structures into a 40-room boutique hotel, restaurant, bar, and café.
  • Alliiance’s Target Center Renovation is a transformational update to a downtown Minneapolis arena that engages the city and enhances the experience for people inside the building.
  • UrbanWorks Architecture LLC’s YouthLink and Project for Pride in Living, a renovation and addition that created a unified campus that creates holistic, positive, and vibrant communities for young people experiencing homelessness in Minneapolis.
  • Lawal Scott Erickson (LSE) Architects, Inc.’s Hennepin County Webber Park Library connects new to old in North Minneapolis with a beautiful and functional building.
  • James Dayton Design, Ltd.’s Westminster Presbyterian Church Addition and Renovation expanded the historic building and grounds to improve access and provide space for the congregation to thrive.
View the 2019 Minneapolis Merit Awards press release.

2018 Minneapolis Merit Awards

  • 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 Awards

  • 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 Awards

  • BKV Group’s A-Mill Artist Lofts is an adaptive reuse of a historic landmark; creating affordable-artist apartments that are located in the St. Anthony Falls Historic District of Minneapolis. The A-Mill Artist Lofts received the additional honor of being selected for the 2016 Michael L. Schrock, AIA, Merit Award (see description below).
  • Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc.’s Twin Cities PBS (TPT) is a redesigned space that captures the essence of contemporary public-media, while serving as a neighborhood hub for the Lowertown community of St. Paul.
  • Perkins+Will’s St. Louis County Government Services Center Renovation is a high-performance re-stack and renovation project that features daylight-filled and shared-perimeter spaces; it reinvigorates a previously underperforming office building in Duluth.
  • U+B Architecture & Design’s Kiran Stordalen and Horst Rechelbacher Pediatric Pain, Palliative and Integrative Medicine is a state-of-the-art clinic designed as a calming and anxiety-reducing healing environment of pediatric pain management, located within the Minneapolis Children’s Hospital.

View the 2016 Minneapolis Merit Awards press release.

2015 Minneapolis Merit Award Recipients

  • Locus Architects and Isenberg Associates’ East Side Enterprise Center, facility rehabilitation into the resource center for small, local, and entrepreneurial businesses on the East Side of St. Paul. 
  • BKV Group’s Schmidt Artist Lofts, an adaptive reuse of a historic community landmark brewery into affordable artist lofts located on West Seventh Street in St. Paul. The Schmidt Artist Lofts receives the additional honor of the 2015 Michael L. Schrock, AIA, Merit Award.
  • CITYDESKSTUDIO, Inc.’s Peppers & Fries, an urban restaurant emerges from a vacant and derelict Super America gas station, revitalizing the east end of Lake Street in Minneapolis. 
  • Alliiance’s Xcel Energy Hiawatha West Substation Enclosure, an unprecedented Xcel Energy effort, driven by community feedback, to integrate public art with infrastructure in Minneapolis. 
  • Shelter Architecture’s Dwan Maintenance Building, a redesigned golf course maintenance building demonstrating the City of Bloomington’s consistent commitment to attractive public spaces and high quality architecture. 

Download the 2015 Minneapolis Merit Awards press release.

2014 Minneapolis Merit Award Recipients

  • Perkins+Will’s Wadena Deer-Creek Middle School + High School, a LEED® GOLD certificated education facility completed in 2 short years in a tornado wrought Wadena.
  • Kodet Architectural Group, Ltd.’s MnDOT Maple Grove Vehicle Maintenance Facility, a new facility hub for MnDOT which follows the Minnesota Sustainable Building Guidelines in design, and is located in Maple Grove.
  • Miller Dunwiddie Architecture, Inc.’s Unity Church – Unitarian, a community-oriented church renovation that unites the neighborhood and church located on Portland Avenue.
  • Kodet Architectural Group, Ltd.’s Hmong College Prep Academy, a relocated growing charter school facility that renovated and expanded a former health club in Saint Paul. The Hmong College Prep Academy receives the additional honor of the 2014 Michael L. Schrock, AIA, Merit Award.