2015 Burnham Prize Competition

Submission: August 24, 2015
Registration:  August 24, 2015
Language: English
Location: Concept
Prizes: Prize: $3,000
Type: Open 


Inspired by the title of the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial—The State of the Art of Architecture— the Chicago Architectural Club’s 2015 Burnham Prize challenges participants to develop a single image that represents a strong point of view that explores the question: What is the State of the Art of Architecture today? The competition allows the CAC to champion the work of a new generation of architects and seeks contributions that foster vigorous debates on the fundamental issues of the state of the art of architecture.


In affiliation with this year’s Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB), the Chicago Architectural Club (CAC) is pleased to announce the 2015 Burnham Prize Competition: Currencies of Architecture.

Throughout the history of architecture, iconic images have demarcated, defined, represented or challenged the state of architecture. The crystalline form of the Friedrichstrasse Skyscraper, developed in 1921 by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, inspired and spoke of an imminent future. Rem Koolhaas and Madelon Vriesendorp’s cinematic 1972 rendering The City of the Captive Globe encompassed ideas of ideological pluralism forever altering our conception of the city. Stanley Tigerman’s 1978 photomontage The Titanic depicted Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Crown Hall sinking into Lake Michigan, challenging the perceived norm in architecture during a period that saw the postmodern movement becoming an opposition to the established modernist legacy in Chicago.

These images represent but a few examples of definitive moments in the history of architecture. They were able to not only capture the Zeitgeist of a period but were laden with meaning that suggested possible new directions forward. They remain provocative and polemical artifacts. What would the iconic image that defines or challenges the state of architecture today look like?


This is a speculative ideas competition. There is no set architectural program for this competition; the interpretation of artifact as image is left to the discretion of the entrant.


June 25, 2015 : Competition Launched with Online Registration & Question and Answer Period opens*

July 31, 2015: Question and Answer Period closes

Aug. 24, 2015: Online Registration closes and Submission are due at noon CST

Sept. 14, 2015: Jury Meeting

Oct. 2015: Winners to be Announced & Exhibition Opening Event in early October 2015 (Date TBD)

*Answers to all questions will be posted to the competition website.


Registration Fee: $90

Reduced Fee for Students: $50 (please submit copy of valid student ID)


To register, go to the competition website http://chicagoarchitecturalclub.org, follow the payment instructions, and send an email to burnhamprize2015@chicagoarchitecturalclub.org with the contact information for the entrant or team leader.

Confirmation of the registration along with a random 5-digit registration number will be emailed to the registrant (individual or the team leader) for identification of the final submission. One registration is required per project submitted. Participants may submit multiple entries or be part of multiple teams, but each submission must have an individual registration number.

Registration will remain open until the submission due date. Registrations fees are non-refundable. Fees will not be returned under any circumstances. By registering for the competition, competitors agree to all competition terms and conditions.


Competition submissions are due at 12 noon U.S. Central Time (UTC – 06:00) on August 24, 2015. Submissions are electronic and submitted via email only. The following materials should be submitted:

1. One A1 board oriented in landscape format. Each board must include the 5-digit assigned registration number in the lower right hand corner. Boards must be submitted in PDF format and PNG, TIFF or JPEG format. The file should be named with the 5-digit registration number, “Image_12345. pdf.” (see template)

2. A written statement of no more than 300 words explaining your ideas. The file should be named “Statement_12345.doc.” This file must be a .txt, .doc, or .rtf file, NOT a .pdf or .jpg.

3. A two page Tabloid document in PDF format oriented in landscape format combining item 1 and 2, – with the image on the first page (reduced to fi t the tabloid format) and the written statement on the second page. Each page must include the 5-digit assigned registration number in the lower right hand corner. The file should be named with the 5-digit registration number- “12345.pdf. (see template)

4. A single page document with team identification and contact information. Include: Project title, names of team members, leader’s telephone number, and email address. The file should be named “ID_12345.doc.” This file must be a .txt, .doc, or .rtf file, NOT a .pdf or .jpg. The source of any third party materials incorporated in the entry must also be included; this source information may exceed one page if necessary.

All three files must be then saved in a single ZIP file named with the 5-digit registration number “12345.zip.” This zipped file should not exceed 5MB. The single ZIP file should be sent via email to: burnhamprize2015@chicagoarchitecturalclub.org. The email subject line should read “Registration Number_12345.” Upon announcement of the winners, higher resolution images may be requested from winning submissions and selected entries.


The 2015 Burnham Prize Competition is open to students, architects, landscape architects, planners, designers and artists.

Board and staff member of the Chicago Architectural Club, the Chicago Architectural Biennial, as well as members of the jury or their families, or those involved with the preparation or funding of this competition may not participate. This competition is to be conducted solely via this web- site – no additional printed material is available. The official language of the competition is English.

Anonymity & Ownership 

The 2015 Burnham Prize is an anonymous competition. No names of team members shall appear on graphic material or in file names. The unique 5-digit registration number is the only means of identification. All material received by the competition organizers becomes their property, including reproduction rights. The intellectual property rights for each submission remain with the author(s) of the submission. The Chicago Architectural Club reserves the right to publish, exhibit, or present the work submitted to this competition in any format.


Questions regarding the competition will be accepted until July 31, 2015. Questions should be emailed to: burnhamprize2015@chicagoarchitecturalclub.org. Answers will be posted on the Chicago Architectural Club’s Website.


Prize: $3,000

A prize totaling $3,000 will be awarded to a winner or dived amongst multiple winners at the discretion of the jury.
Honorable mentions may also be awarded but will receive no cash prize.
Selected projects will be featured on the websites of the Chicago Architectural Club and other partner agencies; and are to be exhibited in a special event.


A jury of notable professionals, academics, and public officials will decide competition winners. The decisions of the jury will be final and unalterable, and the jury thereby reserves the right to leave any prize vacant, or partially award prizes.


The winner of the 2015 Burnham Prize will be announced and exhibited at an opening event at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, in early October 2015 (Date TBD). Projects will remain on exhibition.

Go to the competition’s website