Annual Design Awards

Annual Design Awards Program Details

The AIA Honolulu’s Annual Design Awards is Hawaii’s oldest program of its type—held annually since 1958. Built and unbuilt projects submitted by local AIA members are judged on their merit by a distinguished jury of AIA architects. All project types are eligible for submission by members—from small home renovations to multi-million dollar resorts.

The Annual AIA Honolulu Design Awards Program provides an avenue for AIA Honolulu architects to be recognized by their peers for their effort and dedication to excellence in architectural design. In doing so, AIA Honolulu hopes to raise public consciousness, awareness of design excellence and the special role of AIA architects in the community.

Project & Awards Categories

Many award winning projects from this prestigious awards program are now considered architectural landmarks in our islands—appropriate and well-conceived solutions addressing important urban or social concerns.

Project Categories
Each entry shall be submitted, and may receive an award, in one of the following categories:

  1. Commercial/Industrial
  2. Distinctive Detail (choose for consideration of our NEW Distinct Detail Design Awards)
  3. Institutional
  4. Interior Architecture
  5. Residential
  6. Unbuilt

The number of projects awarded in each category and the level of award shall be determined by the jury.

Juried Awards

  • Award of Excellence: Requires unanimous vote of the jury that a project excels in all aspects. Reserved for those projects which stand out from all of the meritorious award winners. This highest honor recognizes projects which are deemed to exemplify excellence of architectural design on all levels of analysis, and exemplify the highest standards to which AIA members aspire.
  • Award of Merit: Requires consensus from the jury that a project is deserving for a high quality of work overall. Granted to projects which display a high standard of architectural quality and design.
  • Honorable Mention: Responds to notable achievements in one or more particular project aspects; area(s) that stood out, as agreed through consensus by the jury.
  • Distinctive Detail Award: Created to honor individual building components and design features that on built projects until now may not have been recognized for overall achievement. Whether it be a prominent façade, a grand staircase, or a custom piece of furniture, the Distinctive Detail Award celebrates the craftmanship, attention to detail, and spirit of innovation expressed by architectural elements big and small.
  • Community Impact Award: Recognizes projects that are designed to remove barriers and burdens, physical or abstract, empowering and enabling people to gather, connect, live, and function to their highest potential, ultimately bringing a community together. This award is unique in that it relies on the experiences of end users. Entries need not have a high level of design aesthetic but must demonstrate significant social impact.
  • USGBC Hawaii Sustainability Award: In collaboration with USGBC Hawaii, AIA Honolulu is proud to present the Sustainable Design Award category since 2018. The U.S. Green Building Council Hawaii Sustainability Award celebrates the best of green building and sustainable market transformation. The award recognizes projects “for their integration of design excellence with environmental performance,” which aligns with the American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment Top Ten Award criteria.
  • Hawaii Energy Award for Excellence in Energy-Efficient Design: In collaboration with Hawaii Energy, AIA Honolulu is proud to present the Hawaii Energy Award for Excellence in Energy-Efficient Design category since 2019. All Unbuilt and Built projects in the Institutional or Commercial/Industrial categories have the option to also compete for this award. The award recognizes design that embodies Hawai‘i Energy’s mission to assist Hawai‘i’s consumers in maximizing energy efficiency as a critical step to getting to our state’s clean energy goals, saving ratepayers on their utility costs and protecting our islands’ environment.

Non–Juried Awards

  • People's Choice Award: First launched in 2007, the People’s Choice Award provides the public an opportunity to view AIA distinguished entrants and determine an annual winner by popular choice. This award aims to encourage public dialog to help shape Hawaii through design excellence.
  • The Mayor’s Choice Award: Beginning in 1998, the Mayor’s Choice award aims to validate the importance of good design in shaping our city and local communities. Thanks to the honorable Mayor Kirk Caldwell, City and County of Honolulu, for his continued support.
  • Hawaii Home+Remodeling: Editor's Choice Award is selected by the editor of the Hawaii Home+Remodeling Magazine from all our residential design award entrants

Eligibility Requirements

Licensed Architect members of this Chapter may enter all project categories. Associate AIA members of AIA Honolulu may submit in the unbuilt project category only. There is no time limit from when project was completed to when it may be submitted for an award. There is no limit to the number of submissions by the same architect or firm. Firms whose employees are members of the jury are not eligible for submission in that year.

The following re-entry rules apply to previously submitted projects:

  • Those projects that did not receive any award in a prior year may be resubmitted.
  • Previously awarded projects which have undergone substantial renovation may be resubmitted.
  • Previously awarded unbuilt projects are eligible for re-submittal upon completion.
  • Projects which received past recognition in a non-juried category (such as People’s Choice winner) may be submitted in subsequent years for consideration of a juried award.
  • All other previously awarded juried projects are not eligible for resubmittal.

Awards Publication

AIA has maintained an excellent partnership with aio Media Group, publisher of Hawaii Business Magazine. This alliance positions our members within a core readership of business and professional leaders as well as potential private clients. Be sure to pick up their September issue.

AIA Honolulu

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