Celebrating DISCOVERY and advancement of architectural education to graduates and practitioners through foreign/domestic travel-study

2020 Competition

The Minnesota Architectural Foundation, in association with the College of Design, School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota, has sponsored the Ralph Rapson Traveling Study Fellowship since the first competition held in 1989. Its purpose is to provide recent graduates and young architects an opportunity to advance their education in architecture by pursuing foreign or domestic travel-study. The Fellowship award provides $12,000 to an individual selected on the basis of a weekend, juried design competition. Please read the following requirements carefully.

Open Discussion on Entering the Competition: Who, What, Why, and How

Join MAF board members and past participants and fellows to better understand the details of the competition.  This session will diffuse misconceptions, clarify who is eligible to participate, discuss how a design concept can be formed, provide tips on planning your time, review the submission process, and answer all of your questions.  Bring a lunch and join us at MSR Design’s new office.
Wednesday, February 26
12:00 – 1:00 pm
MSR Design, 510 Marquette Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis


Eligibility for this Fellowship is extended to AIA members or AIA Associate members, 40 years of age or younger on January 1, 2020. Additionally, candidates must meet one of the following two eligibility requirements:

  1. Received a professional degree from the University of Minnesota, CALA/C.Des.
  2. Received a professional degree from any NAAB accredited school of architecture, are currently living in Minnesota, and have been employed for at least one year at a Minnesota architectural firm.

Past Fellowship winners are not eligible for the competition.

Application Deadline: March 6, 2020

All individuals wishing to participate in the competition must submit a completed application, and $30.00 application fee to the Foundation by 4:00 pm, CST, Friday, March 6, 2020.

Competition Dates: March 12-17, 2020

The competition will be held from 12:00 noon CST on Thursday, March 12, 2020 and run through 12:00 noon CST the following Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Programs will be emailed to the address you provide on your application at 12:00 noon CST on Thursday, March 12 to all participants.

Submittal Deadlines: March 17, 2020, 12:00 noon CST and March 24, 2020, 4:00 pm CST

Once again in 2020, we will utilize a two-part submission process. In an effort to simplify the submission process, reduce the impact of technical difficulties, and allow for maximum design time, the submissions formatted for one or two 20″ x 30″ board(s) will be uploaded as a single PDF due on March 17, 2020, 12:00 noon CST.  PDFs shall not exceed 10 MB. Printed board(s) versions of the PDF must be delivered to the AIA Minnesota office by 4:00 pm CST on March 22, 2020. Please read the details below carefully.  

March 17, 2020, 12:00 noon CST

Digital PDF submissions must be uploaded to AwardForce (AIA Minnesota’s award submission platform) NO LATER THAN 12:00 noon (CST) on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.  You are advised to create an account and complete the basic information in advance of Tuesday, March 17.  

March 24, 2020, 4:00 pm CST

Printed boards must be delivered to the AIA Minnesota office no later than 4:00 pm (CST) Tuesday, March 24, 2020 (105 5th Avenue South, Suite 485, Minneapolis, MN 55401).  Please be sure to include your name on the back of the boards. Printed boards must match the PDF submissions; changes will not be accepted!

Initial Jury: Friday, April 3, 2020 (date subject to change)

Entries will be juried down to a limited number of finalists (likely 5 or less). Finalists will immediately be notified by phone the evening of the initial jury. All competitors will be sent the names of the finalists after the initial jury. The jury will be determined by the Ralph Rapson committee and could include architects, Foundation Board Members, College of Design faculty, and other associated design professionals.

Final Jury: Friday, April 17, 2020 (date is subject to change)

All finalists are required to attend the final jury. Finalists will participate in a full and open discussion (with the jury only) of their design ideas and project concept. Additionally, they will be asked about their general travel-study plans and what they believe can be accomplished through this opportunity. Final travel-study plans and itineraries are not required at this time but a theme or intent is. The winner of the competition will be announced at a dinner following the final jury. Finalists must attend the final jury at their own expense. However, the Foundation will provide up to a $200 stipend to any non-local finalist(s). 

About Submissions

Submissions formatted for one or two, 20″ x 30″ boards will be first submitted as a single PDF (10MB maximum), uploaded through AIA Minnesota’s award submittal platform.  A printed version of the PDF on 20″ x 30″ boards cannot exceed or be less than those dimensions or exceed 1/2″ in thickness. Boards should be made out of foam core and lightweight for ease of transportation and return. No additional digital information, links to web sites etc. are allowed.   You may work on this competition anywhere you’d like, your office, your home, on a sailboat, etc! All work must be your own; it’s not a team project!


The Rapson Traveling Study Fellowship is an endowed fund administered by the Minnesota Architectural Foundation. Current funding provides for the Fellowship on an annual basis. The competitions have typically had 50-60 applicants and 40-45 actual competitors making submissions. The first winner, in 1989, was Brian Larson, AIA, a Colorado graduate practicing in Minnesota. His travel-study focused on Scandinavia. Recent winners include Nancy Blankfard, AIA (1997), Yinsze Lam (1998), Bill Blanski, AIA (1999), Dan Nepp, AIA (2000), Nick Woodard, AIA (2001), Michael Kennedy, AIA (2002), Matt Kreilich, AIA (2003), Eric Amel, AIA (2005), Creed Kampa, AIA (2006), Nicholas Potts, AIA (2007), Stephen James, Assoc. AIA (2008) Laura Cayere-King, Assoc. AIA (2010), M. Michael McElderry, Assoc. AIA (2011), Andrew Weyenberg, AIA (2012), Douglas Gerlach, AIA (2013), Mark Stankey, AIA (2014), Nat Madson, AIA (2015), David Johansson, Assoc. AIA (2016), Hans-Christian Karlberg, Assoc. AIA (2017), Shida Du, AIA (2018), and Michael Hara, AIA (2019).

Notification of the competition has typically been sent to all U of M professional architecture degree graduates (approximately 1,000) and also shared with graduate architects throughout Minnesota.

If you have any questions, please contact Amber Allardyce, Hon. AIAMN, MAF Rapson Fellowship Administrator, at 612-767-1748 or allardyce@aia-mn.org. You are encouraged to share this notice with anyone whom you believe to be eligible for this competition.