Above: Photos of the seven winners of the 2023 AIA Minnesota Honor Awards and Commendations for Design Excellence. Project listings and link to the press release are included below.

Since 1954, AIA Minnesota has celebrated outstanding architecture and urban design through its annual Honor Awards Program. We invite you to submit your firm’s best, recent work to be considered for a 2023 Honor Award.

Our Honor Awards acknowledge outstanding built projects by AIA Minnesota members, or firms that are owned by AIA Minnesota members, that practice professionally in Minnesota. We encourage broad participation from established and new practitioners of firms of all sizes—small, medium, or large.

In alignment with AIA National Architecture Awards, AIA Minnesota Honor Awards submissions are evaluated using the AIA Framework for Design Excellence (see the 10 categories below under Excellence Commendations). Design excellence requires a holistic approach addressing the interdependence among people, buildings, infrastructure, and the environment. The Framework for Design Excellence provides the elements that support this vision during project evaluation. Projects should address multiple measures included in the framework, highlighting how they perform in this context and noting relevant narratives and metrics where applicable.

The submission window for the 2024 Honor Awards opens August 1 and closes September 27.

Common App Requirement

New in 2023, AIA Minnesota Honor Award entrants are required to fill out the Common Application for Design Awards (Common App) for each submission, alongside the PDF awards booklet. Click here for more on the Common App and the types of questions it includes. Prospective Honor Awards entrants with questions about the Common App are invited to view the recording of the 2023 Honor Awards Open House (see below) or send their questions to Committee on Design staff liaison Chris Hudson.


Commendation for Framework in Design Excellence Achievement

AIA Minnesota is establishing the Commendation for Framework in Design Excellence Achievement, which will recognize projects that excel in one particular AIA Framework for Design Excellence measure. The Honor Awards jury will have the discretion to award up to 10 total single-measure commendations but are not required to recognize an entry under each measure. No project shall be chosen for a commendation in more than one category or may receive a commendation in more than one year from the same category. Recipients of a commendation will be eligible to resubmit their project for an Honor Award in future years.

The measures are:



To be eligible for an Honor Award or Commendation, submitted projects must follow these guidelines, regardless of budget, style, or project type. Projects that have received an AIA Minnesota Honor Award in past years are not eligible for resubmission. Projects submitted must meet the following four guidelines:

  • The project must have been completed within the last seven years (since January 1, 2016) including individual buildings, groups of buildings, preservation or restoration of existing buildings, or building interiors (since many urban design and master planning projects are never completed in the traditional sense, incomplete projects may be recognized if a significant portion has been completed);
  • The project must have been designed by an AIA Minnesota member at the AIA or Associate level or by a firm that is owned by an AIA Minnesota member at the AIA or Associate level;
  • The project must have been designed by an AIA member practicing in accordance with Minnesota architecture registration laws and complying with federal wage and labor laws by not employing unpaid interns; and
  • The project must have been designed in Minnesota (for project teams, the majority of the design work needs to have been done in Minnesota) by AIA Minnesota members.

All AIA Minnesota award programs require a declaration that candidates for awards are in compliance with the AIA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. Nominators will need to certify that candidates comply to the best of their knowledge. This is part of our commitment to ensuring that recipients of AIA Minnesota awards comport to the highest standards of character and professionalism, and are in compliance with requirements for AIA national awards.

Project types that may be submitted include, but are not limited to, general architecture (large scale), interiors, renovation & restoration, urban design and master planning, and small projects. Awards are not given by category.

Process Information

AIA Minnesota asks jurors to consider the following in their deliberations:

Submissions are weighed individually – not in competition with each other. Projects are judged on their own merit and all awards are given at the jury’s discretion.

In your submission, provide sufficient explanation of the distinguishing characteristics of the project, but avoid lengthy descriptions of features described via graphic images. There will be no site visits.

Any project that credits a jury member or their firm as architect, associate architect, consultant, or client is ineligible and will be disqualified if submitted.

Communication by the candidate with any member of the jury, or anyone acting on their behalf, from the time of submittal to completion of the jury process is inappropriate and cause for disqualification.


Submission Information

The submission must be one PDF imagebook file in book layout that includes no more than 25 vertically oriented 8.5 x 11-inch pages (the cover plus 24 additional faces.) Layouts can be designed as two-page spreads, with images spanning the two pages, but the spreads must be 17 x 11 inches and will each count as two of the allowed 25 pages. (Note that the latter approach—a vertically oriented 8.5 x 11 cover plus 12 17 x 11 spreads—is a must if you want the jury to view your submission as spreads.) Call if you have questions about this. No exceptions will be made.

It is your responsibility to make sure the architect’s name and/or firm name is not revealed on any of the file names, images, plans, or narratives. Failure to follow this requirement will automatically disqualify the entry.

Each submission must contain a precise description of the project. Submissions should fully explain the original design intentions and distinguishing factors of the work, including the scope, concept, and quality of the project/program.

Every submission must contain sufficient images and plans to completely describe the project.

Page 1/Cover page must include the entry project name, and project location in black, 48-point text on white background, with one-inch margins on all sides. The cover page may include images.

Remaining pages may use any type sizes, type colors, background colors, and margins the entrant chooses.

Submission size of the imagebook file must not exceed 10 MB. This may be accomplished by reducing the image size for each photo/image included within the imagebook prior to placing the image in the imagebook.

Production Tips for Reducing the Size of Your Submission PDF

Raster Images: Monitors typically have a resolution of 96 dpi, so save raster images to be the same or slightly higher for best results when viewed at 100 percent on screen. (Usually a full-page of a pdf is viewed at a reduced scale, but this gives the option of zooming in).

Vector Images: Reduce lines and shapes to the absolute minimum. Don’t use transparency unless necessary.

Fonts: Only use standard fonts when creating a PDF. Other fonts will need to be embedded in the file and will increase file size.

Adobe suggests that all images be reduced to the final size prior to placement in the layout program, as some presentation programs may not downsize images when viewing the final PDF. InDesign does downsize images prior to exporting the PDF.


ALL IMAGES used within the imagebook PDF must be uploaded with your submission. After reading all of the instructions on this page, upload the high-resolution JPG files by clicking the Select attachments button at the bottom of the page. You’ll be prompted to enter a description and credit in the corresponding field for each uploaded image.

  • The images may be used for the Honor Awards announcement, the Awards presentation, and other promotional purposes.
  • All photos should be in JPG format. Do not submit Illustrator files—convert them to JPGs
  • All photos except for “before” photos should be minimum 300 dpi at six inches wide or wider along the horizontal edge (5MB limit each)
  • Any “before” photos should be minimum 72 dpi at three inches wide or wider along the horizontal edge
  • Images should be sequenced in the order they appear in the submission PDF

Images should be named in this format: entry name, two-digit image number (for example, A_IDS Center_01.jpg, A_IDS Center_02.jpg, etc.)


If you have any questions or concerns related to the AIA Minnesota Honor Awards process, please contact AIA Minnesota Committee on Design staff liaison Chris Hudson or call 612-338-6763.

2023 Honor Award and Commendation Recipients

AIA Minnesota is pleased to announce the selection of recipients of 2023 Honor Awards and Commendations for Framework for Design Excellence Achievement: 

Honor Awards:

  • L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, by MSR Design
  • RIDC Mill 19, by MSR Design


  • Cottage Grove Ravine Landing, by HGA
  • Infill House, by Office Hughes Olsen
  • LongHouse, by SALA Architects
  • Treetop Trail at the Minnesota Zoo, by Snow Kreilich Architects
  • Turnblad Mansion Rehabilitation and Carriage House Renovation, by HGA

Read the press release.


2022 Honor Award and Commendation Recipients

AIA Minnesota is pleased to announce the selection of recipients of 2022 Honor Awards and Commendations for Framework for Design Excellence Achievement: 

Honor Awards:

  • Marlborough Music Reich Hall, HGA Architects and Engineers
  • Sartell High School, Cuningham
  • Water Works Pavilion, HGA Architects and Engineers


  • Downtown East Urban Master Plan, Ryan A + E, Inc.
  • Family Tree Clinic, Perkins&Will
  • Hennepin County Medical Examiner Facility, LEO A DALY
  • Missoula Public Library New Main Library, MSR Design with A&E Design
  • RIDC Mill 19, MSR Design
  • Wild Rice Retreat, Salmela Architect

Read the press release.

2021 Honor Award and Commendation Recipients

AIA Minnesota is pleased to announce the selection of recipients of 2021 Honor Awards and Commendations for Framework for Design Excellence Achievement:

Honor Awards:

  • Arthur J. Altmeyer Federal Building, HGA and Snow Kreilich Architects
  • Lilydale Regional Park Pickerel Lake Pavilion, VJAA
  • City of Minneapolis Public Service Building, MSR Design
  • Chicago Infill House, VJAA
  • Manitowish Waters Fire Hall, HGA

Commendations for Achievement in a Single Measure of the Framework for Design Excellence:

  • Brookview Community Center, HGA
  • Palace Theater, Oerter Architects
  • Jewel Box Cabin, Imprint Architecture and Design, LLC
  • Louisville Free Public Library Northeast Regional, MSR Design and JRA Architects
  • Norman Public Library Central, MSR Design
  • Avivo Village, AWH Architects

Read the press release.

Past Honor Award Recipients

Download a list of past Honor Award recipients.