The SCUP Excellence Awards program is a juried competition that showcases how using strategic, integrated planning can result in exemplary buildings, grounds, institutional success, and careers that inspire! It is 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, public or private institutions. Entries are accepted from SCUP member and nonmember consultants or institutions. Submittals must be made by a team including the institution and the planning, landscape architect, or architect professional(s). Architecture projects must have been completed and occupied within the past five years.
This award recognizes that comprehensive campus planning and design are collaborative and involve campus planners, architects, administrators, faculty, professional consultants and many stakeholders. We recognize that some plans may take years to fully implement, but 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.
This award recognizes excellence in the planning and design of campus grounds for higher education. It includes the sensitive and skillful design of open space and landscape elements such as streetscapes, transit corridors, pedestrian routes, courts, quads, and garden areas, natural areas, and storm water management. The category emphasizes the distinctive use of paving materials, plantings, furnishings, fixtures, and special amenities that enhance the use and enjoyment of the outdoor campus environment. This category focuses on landscape as a system as opposed to a project. (The project should represent the mission, vision and values of the institution and support teaching and student life.) There are no time constraints concerning completion of the project with regards to your entry. Include information on institutional involvement that may have occurred throughout the project, if applicable.
This award recognizes comprehensive campus design and planning are collaborative and involve campus architects, planners, administrators, faculty, professional consultants and many stakeholders. Submittals must be made by a team including the institution and the architect(s). Your project must have been completed and occupied within the past five years.
New Opportunity for the SCUP Excellence Awards Program. SCUP is partnering with Learning By Design magazine to provide high visibility and value for the awards program. Award recipients from the SCUP 2019 Excellence Awards Program will be featured in a special June 2019 edition of Learning By Design, a magazine that is a source for education facility design innovation and excellence.
Check out the Free Tips for additional information. They are shown throughout the Qs & As.
Q. Should my submission show my firm name?
A. No, your firm name and the name of the project team cannot appear in the submission PDF.
Q. What size should the pdf submission be?
A. The submission size requirement is 8.5" x 11". It may be either a vertical or landscape orientation but must be readable on a screen without rotation or reformatting by jurors.
Q. Do we need to be members to submit an entry?
A. No, we welcome entries from everyone.
Q. Can unbuilt work be submitted?
A. 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.
FREE TIP: You do not need to be the prime or lead firm on the project to submit an entry.
Q. Are our firms prohibited from making submissions if I am on the jury?
A. 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.
Q. My project is not a college or university but a private prep school. Is it eligible?
A. The eligibility requirements state "two-year and four-year colleges, universities, academic medical and research centers, public or private institutions." This has come up before and the conclusion was that no, it’s not eligible in this program. In fact, no K-12 projects would be eligible. Sorry.
Q. Do I have to integrate my images within the text?
A. Yes please. The required graphic elements should be placed at the beginning of the submission and must be at least a half page in size, so it’s not necessary to integrate them with text.
Q. With regards to the images integrated within the text, can we have a horizontal image on a vertically formatted page?
A. Yes. How and where you place the images is up to you. Just not upside down please.
Q. In order to provide an image showing the project in context with the rest of the campus, given the size of the building, this would be best shown with an aerial photo, but one is not yet available. Would it be acceptable to provide a good quality Google Earth image showing the project’s campus context?
A. Yes, this is acceptable and very creative!
Q. Do I have to use 12-point font?
A. Yes please. Use any readable font as long as it is 12-point.
Q. Can I use a different font for the captions for my images?
A. Yes, but please limit captions to about 10 words.
Q. Are we able to use a two or three column layout for the submittal?
A. We prefer that you have no more than two columns.
Q. Can I prepare my entry in a horizontal format?
A. You may use horizontal or vertical orientation to best illustrate the images in your PDF submittal. Just be sure that every page is oriented for reading on a screen without rotation or reformatting by the jurors. Please do not spread an image over more than one page.
Q. We would like to include floor plans, but to be readable on a screen, they would take up 4-5 pages. What should we do?
A. Try and reduce them to a readable size and stay within the 10-page limit, please.
Free tip: There is a site plan requirement now - please make it legible and larger than a postage stamp – a half page is preferable. Explain how it relates to the master plan, strategic plan and surrounding community using examples if available.
Q. The instructions say we must limit our response to approximately 200 words for each question. Do you mean 200 words for the entire question or 200 words for each bulleted item?
A. The word limit is 200 for the question, not for each bullet. Some bullets may not even apply to your project so don't feel like you have to answer every one. Remember, do not repeat the question – doing so only takes up space on your 10 pages. List them as 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.
Q. When we read the eligibility requirements, we thought our project met the requirements: although the buildings have not been constructed, we have had significant executive board action to move the plan 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?
A. 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.
Free tip: It’s hard to do a good project without having the client on board with you. Include examples of this involvement wherever possible. This is viewed as a good thing and jurors can really tell which entries had the most institutional involvement. Their passion often comes through in the institutional statement.
Q. Our institutional statement is not addressed to the “2019 Awards Jury.” Can we still submit it or do we need them to redo it?
A. 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.
Q. Is there a maximum pdf file size?
A. Yes, please keep the file size no larger than 25 MB.
Q. We see that the size limit is 25MB for the file size. Is there a limit to what your system will accept? Is there an ftp site that we can post our file (under 25MB) to, or can you download a file from our ftp site?
A. We do not have an FTP site. This year’s submission will be uploaded with the application.
Free Tip: It is important to provide enough context or program intent so the jury can readily see how the building or landscape relates to and supports the rest of the campus.
Q. The architect I’m working with is concerned that her 10-word captions begin to sound like a foreign language. Is 10 words a hard-and-fast limit, or can it go to 15?
A. You can use slightly longer phrases for your captions, but don't worry if they aren't complete sentences.
Q. The person that 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 Friday’s deadline, and the institutional statement next week?
A. There are two options that I see here. The first is that I would need the letter no later than the following Monday, February 18th. A second option is to find another individual from the institution who could provide a letter for you so you could meet the deadline and have a nice weekend.
Q. I submitted two award submittals today, one of which is missing the institutional statement due to a hold up 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 tomorrow for consideration?
A. Certainly – please email the letter to email@example.com by Monday, February 18th and be sure to give enough information so we connect your letter with the correct entry.
Q. We just received the institutional statement from the client and it is two pages long. Your guidelines call for a one-page letter. The client is located internationally and the timing of getting a new letter is challenging. Is the two-page letter OK?
A. Yes. We can accept a two page institutional statement. Please ensure the rest of your entry is within the page limit.
Q. 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?
A. No, but please make sure you provide the required graphics, answer our specific questions, and the institutional statement is addressed to "2019 Awards Jury."
Free tip: Almost all of the entries involved sustainability and explained it in many different ways. If any third party sustainability documentation was applied to the project, please include that in your entry. Ratings such as Gold are pretty mainstream now. Winning entries will likely go beyond that designation.
Q. We have a question about the three images per page. Does that refer to photographs? Or photos + plans? Can we use a tiny series of “thumbnails” that are grouped together to illustrate one point? Does that count as one image or several? Will you count the images on each page and throw an entry out if a page contains four instead of three?
A. 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 throw you out for an extra image. Please adhere to the 10 page + institutional letter page limit however. I wouldn’t put in too many thumbnail image groupings for readability reasons.
Q. Is there a limit to the number of photos that we can submit?
A. Not really, but remember you should limit to three on a page and there is a 10-page limit plus the institutional statement.
Q. Do we send the payment with the entry, or do you need this prior to the submittal?
A. Once the online application has been completed and submitted you will be directed to a payment screen to make payment by credit card, then hit the submit button.
Q. We plan on emailing our 2019 SCUP Excellence Award entry and would like to pay by check.
A. We are using an online application format for submissions. Payment by credit card is required. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
Q. Is there any protocol for file naming the entry?
A. Yes. Please name your files "Institution_Project Title." Do not include reference to any firm or subconsultant in the name.
Q. I’m assembling the information for this award. 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?
A. 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 NA. See the next questions/answers too.
Free Tip: As you prepare your entry, keep asking yourself “What was the planning process/journey? What was the biggest challenge or unintended outcomes? What “caused” success?”
Q. 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.
A. 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 though - 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.
Q. Is there a dpi requirement for images?
A. Yes, please save your images at 100 dpi maximum to expedite computer viewing. If your entry receives an award, we’ll ask you for higher resolution images for both web and print.
Q. Does the project have to be in the USA?
A. No, any project on this planet is eligible. Even though you think yours might be “out of this world.”
Free Tip: As you prepare your entry, keep asking yourself “how did this make the campus better?” or how is this relevant to the students?”
Q. What is the page limit?
A. There is a ten- page limit to the “Submission Guidelines,” including images. The Institutional Statement does not count as one of your ten pages. It counts toward whether you receive an award though. In fact, you will be discounted if it is not included. So, technically you get 11 pages, but who’s counting? Wait! We are. Also, please number your pages – you can’t believe how much that helps.
Q. I have several photographers for our images. How should I list them all?
A. 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, unless you’re afraid they might ask for a raise. That’s your decision.
Q. 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 only photography.
A. 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.
Q. Can I resubmit an entry from previous years that did not win?
A. 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. It seems like you would have even more evidence of the project’s success after a year or two. We try to clarify (dare I say improve?) the call for entries every year, so be sure to reread all the requirements and make the appropriate updates to your previous entry. Good luck – again.
Q. We’re going to resubmit an entry we compiled for last year’s award. I’m curious if we need to obtain a new client statement. I’m hoping we won’t need to since their thoughts have stayed the same since last year.
A. You could use the same letter, if you are sure they don’t want to add a phrase like “We like it even more this year!” 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.
Free tip: New thinking in the next few years may result in a shift in learning, knowing more about how the brain works, how it responds to the pedagogy and how teaching spaces are put together. The future may be here already.
Q. What if I enter in the wrong category?
A. The jury will pick you up and move you. We know that some projects could be entered in more than one category, but please choose the one where you think it belongs. The jury tries to be fair and likes winners, so they may move your entry to another category if they feel it is a better fit. They have done this a few times in the past and the project has received an award. That’s power. See the next two questions and answers too.
Q. Can I enter the same project in more than one category?
A. Entries are judged against other entries within each discreet category, but it is unlikely that the same project would (could?) (should?) receive three awards. Remember, you should be submitting as a team, listing all team members in your entry – no limit – so you might actually have a stronger entry by demonstrating how all these diverse entities worked together successfully. BUT – see the next Q/A.
Q. We are submitting our project for excellence in architecture and excellence in landscape. Do we have to pay two fees or one?
A. 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 would need to select a category; however, the jury will move an entry from one category to another if they feel it really belongs there.
Q. Can I see winning entries from previous years?
A. Text and images of award recipients from previous years are on SCUP’s web site so you can see what our juries found “excellent.” However, we don’t post all the information from their entry. There have to be some secrets.
Free tip: The jury knows that not every institution has the budget for five- star architecture and that there can be excellent and creative results within any budget.
Q. Can I submit more than one institutional statement?
A. Lucky you. Could you instead have co-signers on one statement? Or two half-page statements?
Q. Is the due date/time firm?
A. Yes, we would like all the entries submitted no later than 11:59 pm EST on Friday, February 15, 2019. And no, we won’t be up at midnight in the office with a stopwatch, but you get the point. It’s really good to submit your entries at least one day early because 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 send it in again before the deadline.
Q. Are you strict on the word count?
A. 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.
Q. Can I submit a copy of the master plan document?
A. 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.
Q. How many awards are given out?
A. 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.
Q. Will I receive feedback from the jury if my project didn’t win?
A. 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 by any of the jurors. We try to get jury comments on those projects, but sometimes it’s just not available.
Please keep your questions coming. We want to make it as painless as possible to submit an entry and will continue to add your questions with our answers here. The good ones anyway. Good Luck!