The 2021 AIA Virginia Prize competition kicked off the spring semester by offering students the opportunity to win a $2,000 prize. Three additional $300 “Best of School” prizes will also be awarded. The competition is a design charrette that engages students at all the accredited schools of architecture in Virginia and took place over the weekend of Jan. 22-25, 2021.

The first round of submissions have been juried at the university level and the finalists have been submitted for review by a state jury which will be announced in the coming month.

In a new initiative this year, AIA Virginia will convene a post-competition conversation with the students from the 4 schools, the jurors, and designers from the region. Watch for an upcoming event announcement to see the winning submissions, hear jury comments, and join the discussion.

2021 AIA Virginia Prize Challenge


The 2021 prompt is inspired by the Equal Justice Initiative’s Community Remembrance Project:

The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is a private, nonprofit organization that challenges poverty and racial injustice, advocates for equal treatment in the criminal justice system, and creates hope for marginalized communities. EJI opened The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration and National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama in 2018.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice includes over 800 steel monuments, or pillars, one for each county in the United States where a racial terror lynching took place, with the names of the lynching victims engraved on the pillars. A field of identical monuments is in a park adjacent to the memorial. EJI’s Community Remembrance Project invites counties across the country to claim their monuments and install them in the counties they represent. In addition to installing the pillars, EJI encourages participating communities to place a historical marker and to collect soil from the site of the lynchings, to “allow communities to gain perspective and experience that we believe is crucial to managing the monument retrieval process wisely and effectively.”

The Challenge

Design a pillar installation for the City of Alexandria’s Market Square. Backgroundsite plans and photos were provided.

About the AIA Virginia Prize

Conducted simultaneously at Hampton UniversityUniversity of VirginiaVirginia Tech, and the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center, the competition is a design charrette that engages students at all of the accredited schools of architecture in Virginia. Students are given the competition program on a Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. They work over the weekend to create a design solution and submit it by 9 a.m. the following Monday.

Launched in 1980, the competition is intended to promote collaboration between the profession, students, and professors in Virginia.

Development of the competition brief rotates between the four schools annually — the 2021 Prize challenge was developed by WAAC.