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SCUP Excellence Awards

Our SCUP Excellence Award honors achievement in strategic, integrated planning that results in exemplary buildings and grounds, institutional success, and careers that inspire.

This award is a juried competition open to professional service providers and institutions that have prepared designs or plans for two-year and four-year colleges, universities, academic medical and research centers, and public or private institutions.

Entries are accepted from SCUP member and nonmember consultants or institutions. Submittals for all eight categories must be made by a team including the institution and the planner, landscape architect, or architect professional(s).

Architecture projects must have been completed and occupied within the past five years.

Past Recipients

Frequently Asked Questions

How should my submission be formatted?

  • The submission size requirement is 8.5″ x 11″
  • 12-point font must be used
  • Submission should be no longer than 10 pages
  • Pages should be numbered
  • It may have vertical or landscape orientation but must be readable on a screen without rotation or reformatting by jurors
  • If columns are included, no more than two should be used
  • Maximum file size is 25MB

Other formatting considerations:

Is there any protocol for file naming the entry?
Yes. Please name your files “Institution_Project Title.” Do not include reference to any firm or subconsultant in the name.

Is there an ftp site that we can post our file to, or can you download a file from our ftp site?
We do not have an FTP site. This year’s submission will be uploaded with the application.

It seems to me that there is a lot of overlap between questions. In order to avoid redundancy, would it be possible for me to combine them?
You do not need to repeat answers, but please make it clear to the jury that you have addressed the bulleted items in each question that do apply to your project. Don’t worry if some of them are not applicable.

Do we need to number our responses and answer in the order given, or can we just take the text from our answers to create an integrated presentation with text/images?
Yes, you can respond to the text without numbering your answers and do so in the order that tells your story best. Here is a suggestion: you might start some sentences with words such as, “The purpose of the building was . . .” or, “The client was happy with the results that included . . .” just so the jury can be assured that you did answer all the questions.

What is the page limit?
There is a 10-page limit, including images. The Institutional Statement does not count as one of your 10 pages. It counts toward whether you receive an award, though. In fact, you will be discounted if it is not included. Please number your pages.

Are you strict on the word count?
While we won’t cut you off in the middle of a sentence, the word count recommendations are made so the jury can get through all the entries and make better comparisons among them. Just remember you have 10 pages, plus the institutional statement.

Can I submit a copy of the master plan document?
Only if it makes you feel better. The jury is unable to spend time reviewing anything but the actual entries. Plus, your firm name is probably all over it.

Is 10 words for a caption a hard-and-fast limit, or can it go to 15?
You can use slightly longer phrases for your captions, but don’t worry if they aren’t complete sentences.

We are resubmitting our entry from another awards program, which was done in a horizontal layout. Do we have to change the orientation in order to submit it?
No, but please make sure that you provide the required graphics, answer our specific questions, and address the institutional statement to “2020 Awards Jury.”


Should my submission show my firm name?
No, your firm name and the name of the project team cannot appear in the submission PDF.

Do we need to be members to submit an entry?
No, we welcome entries from everyone.

Can unbuilt work be submitted?
No, not yet. The architecture entries must have been completed and occupied within the past five years. The planning entries do not need to be completed; however, it must be evident that a significant event — such as a strategic, physical or facilities change; a change that triggered expansion; executive board actions; or establishment of a new strategic partnership — has taken place. The landscape architecture entries must be completed, but there is no age limitation, since these projects need time to develop.

Does the project have to be in the USA?
No, any project on this planet is eligible. Even though you think yours might be “out of this world.”

Are our firms prohibited from making submissions if I am on the jury?
Institutions or firms that have someone on the jury should not submit entries this year. Please check out the list of jury members before making a decision to submit an entry.

My project is not a college or university but a private prep school. Is it eligible?
The eligibility requirements state “two-year and four-year colleges, universities, academic medical and research centers, public or private institutions.” Accordingly, no K-12 projects would be eligible.

Although the buildings have not been constructed, we have had significant executive board action to move the plan for our project forward. The plan has been presented to the city for review, but the instructions state that the work must be built. What does that mean?
If you are entering one of the planning categories and have indicators that the project will go forward (such as regent or board approval), yes, go ahead and enter. Projects in the architecture categories must be built and occupied or used within the past five years. Landscape projects have no time limit.

Our institutional statement is not addressed to the “2020 Awards Jury.” Can we still submit it?
That is fine as long as they do not mention the name of your firm or subconsultants. If they do, and you are at the 11th hour, you can go ahead and redact them before you scan and submit the entry.

Can I resubmit an entry from previous years that did not win?
Yes. The jury changes every year, and so do the entries against which your project is judged. It’s up to you whether you submit new photography or get an updated institutional statement. Calls for entries can slightly change every year, so be sure to reread all the requirements and make the appropriate updates to your previous entry.

We’re going to resubmit an entry we compiled for last year’s award. Do we need to obtain a new client statement?
You can use the same letter. Just write in a new date and let them know that it’s being submitted again – a good way to stay in touch with a client.

What if I enter in the wrong category?
The jury will move you to the correct category. We know that some projects could be entered in more than one category, but please choose the one you think works best. The jury tries to be fair, so they may move your entry to another category if they feel it is a better fit.

Can I enter the same project in more than one category?
Entries are judged against other entries within each category, but it is unlikely that the same project would receive three awards. Remember, you should be submitting as a team, listing all team members in your entry — no limit — so you might have a stronger entry by demonstrating how all these diverse entities worked together successfully.

We are submitting our project for excellence in architecture and excellence in landscape. Do we have to pay two fees or one?
If you have two different entries with regards to text, images, project team, etc., then yes, you would need to submit them separately and pay two entry fees. However, if you have one entry but are not sure which category to use, you should enter it once and pay one fee. You will need to select a category; however, the jury will move an entry from one category to another if they feel it’s a better fit.

Is the due date/time firm?
Yes, we would like all the entries submitted no later than 11:59 pm EST on February 10, 2020. Consider submitting your entries at least one day early — we will look them over and let you know if something is missing or if there are problems with the files. Then you would have time to fix your entry and resend before the deadline.

The person who we need the institutional statement from is out of the office this week. Would it be possible for us to send all the rest of the documentation by Monday’s deadline, and the institutional statement next week?
There are two options. The first is that we need the letter no later than Wednesday, February 12. A second option is to find another individual from the institution who could provide a letter to meet the deadline.

I sent two submissions today, one of which is missing the institutional statement due to a holdup at the university. I expect this letter tomorrow but wanted to submit the rest of the package today. Would it be acceptable to send the letter electronically once I receive it?
Yes. Please email the letter to by Wednesday, February 12, and be sure to provide enough information so we connect your letter with the correct entry.


Is there a dpi requirement for images?
Yes, please save your images at 100 dpi maximum to expedite viewing. If your entry receives an award, we’ll ask you for higher-resolution images for both web and print.

Is there a limit to the number of photos that we can submit?
No, but remember that you should limit them to three on a page and that there is a 10-page limit in addition to the institutional statement.

Do I have to integrate my images within the text?
Yes. The required graphic elements should be placed at the beginning of the submission and must be at least half a page in size. The other images should be integrated with text.

With regards to the images integrated within the text, can we have a horizontal image on a vertically formatted page?
Yes. How and where you place the images is up to you. Just not upside down, please.

Is it acceptable to provide a good-quality Google Earth image showing a project’s campus context?
Yes, this is acceptable and very creative.

Can I use a different font for the captions for my images?
Yes, but please limit captions to about 10 words.

We would like to include floor plans, but to be readable on a screen, they would take up to five pages. What should we do?
Try and reduce them to a readable size and stay within the 10-page limit, please.

I have several photographers for our images. How should I list them all?
Please indicate which photographer goes with each picture or image. We will confirm this with you before printing or publishing anything. It might be nice to give credit to in-house photographers, too.

On the application, do we need to include the names and contact information of renderers as well as photographers? Many of the images in our submission are renderings, but the credit page seems to ask specifically about photography only.
Yes, please include everyone. We want to give you an opportunity to give credit where it is due. Credits will be used if your project is selected or if parts of it are shown which exemplify a trend or something unique.

Does the three-images-per-page requirement refer to photographs — or photos and plans? Can we use a tiny series of thumbnails grouped together to illustrate one point? Will submissions with more than three pages be disqualified?
By images we mean photos, plans, sketches, and renderings. The term “images” is a generic term for all of those. A grouping of thumbnails to make a point is acceptable and would count as one image. We won’t disqualify for an extra image. Please adhere to the 10-page-plus-institutional-letter page limit, however, and be sure it is readable.


Can I see winning entries from previous years?
Text and images of award recipients from previous years are on SCUP’s website so you can see what our juries found “excellent.” However, we don’t post all the information from their entry.

Can I submit more than one institutional statement?
Could you instead have cosigners on one statement? Or two half-page statements?

We just received the institutional statement from the client, and it is two pages long. Is it acceptable?
Yes. We can accept a two-page institutional statement. Please ensure that the rest of your entry is within the page limit.

Will I receive feedback from the jury if my project didn’t win?
We will try. Jurors do their first review of the entries on their own and bring a shortlist to the in-person deliberations. Those entries are viewed and discussed in depth, and feedback is almost always available on them. However, feedback is not always heard on entries that were not shortlisted.

How many awards are given out?
There are eight categories for entries (three in planning, three in architecture, and two in landscape). The jury tends to give out honor and merit awards in every category; however, they may give out merits and no honors in a category, or honors and no merits. Or a special citation. Or an honorable mention. All in all, about 10 percent of entries receive awards.

Do we send the payment with the entry, or prior to the submittal?
Once the online application has been completed and submitted, you will be directed to a payment screen.

We plan on emailing our 2020 SCUP Excellence Award entry and would like to pay by check.
We are using an online application format for submissions. Payment by credit card is required. Contact if you have questions.