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. AIA Minnesota is following the lead of AIA National and dozens of AIA chapters across the country in establishing this submission requirement. The broader and more consistent performance information provided via the Common App will allow the awards jury to evaluate the projects more holistically in multiple aspects of performance. The Common App seeks to inform progress toward a zero-carbon, equitable, and healthy built environment.

What is the Common App?

The Common App is a suite of consistent project data entry fields organized according to the 10 principles of the AIA Framework for Design Excellence. It elicits general project information and simple performance metrics. The performance metrics automatically generate a “spider graph,” a single graphic output that can provide a jury with a high-level view of project performance.

Why are we implementing it?

  • By requiring simple performance metrics, the AIA Minnesota Honor Awards program better aligns with the values of the American Institute of Architects and reinforces the AIA Framework for Design Excellence.
  • Aligning with the Common App requirement in other AIA awards programs streamlines the process for firms submitting their projects both locally and nationally and levels the playing field for all applicants.
  • The requested performance metrics serve as a standing reminder of the importance of incorporating high-performance strategies into all design projects.

What types of questions are included?

  • The Common App includes questions on project performance spanning all 10 measures in the Framework for Design Excellence.
  • The questions are designed to be simple yet meaningful. Most are Yes/No questions that focus on design strategies and process.
  • Some questions provide an external link so that relevant metrics can be looked up online.
  • The only questions that require a bit of technical expertise are those relating to energy use intensity (EUI) in the Design for Energy capsule.
  • Filling out all questions in the Common App is not mandatory, and no single strategy or third-party certification is required. The project will be evaluated but not penalized based on your answers.

What the Common App is NOT:

  • The AIA COTE Top Ten Award submission process
  • Focused exclusively on energy
  • An onerous or time-consuming form

For more information

Prospective Honor Awards entrants with questions about the Common App are highly encouraged to view the recording of the 2023 Honor Awards Open House, held on August 3. The second of the two presenters, MSR Design’s Chris Wingate, AIA, provides a short history of the Framework for Design Excellence and its integration into AIA design awards, then walks attendees through the Common App.

Questions can also be directed to AIA Minnesota Committee on Design liaison Chris Hudson.