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ASLA 2014 Professional Awards: Open Letter on Winning Strategies

Professional entry deadline is March 7!

If you believe in your work, I strongly encourage you to enter the 2014 professional awards program. As a jury, we want to see projects of all types, sizes, budgets, and locations. We will be looking for projects that speak to the heart of what we do as design professionals. My firm has entered the ASLA professional awards many times, but serving on the jury last year really helped me understand how to organize and simplify our entries. Here are a few tried and true tips I’d like to share to help you communicate with our jury members:

Keep it simple and follow the directions.
While it’s tempting to customize a submission in hopes it will stand out from all the others, the best way to draw the jury’s attention is through your work.

Focus on the narrative description.
Use the category criteria as an outline for your narrative. Don’t overwrite or include too many details. Tell us why your project is outstanding and deserves recognition.

Remember—photography is key.
Let’s face it, the best narrative in the world can’t make up for poor photography. Submit high-quality images no smaller than 8 x 10 inches. In the built categories, resist the temptation to use a montage or collage in order to cram in more images. Ignoring the image limit can get your submission disqualified.

Neatness counts.
Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare your awards submission. Two-person proof the narrative and image captions for misspellings and typos.

Consider submitting projects in several categories.
There are six categories in the ASLA Professional Awards Program: General Design, Residential Design, Analysis and Planning, Communications, Research, and the Landmark Award. Consider all the work your firm has done. You may have projects to submit in more than one category.

Resubmit projects you believe in.
If your submission isn’t successful one year, don’t give up—resubmit it the following year. Juries change each year, and what appeals to a jury one year may completely differ the next. On average, nearly half of the winning projects each year had been submitted at least once prior to winning.

The deadline for professional entry forms is March 7 and submissions are due March 21.


James Burnett, FASLA
The Office of James Burnett
Solana Beach, CA
ASLA 2014 Professional Awards Jury Chair

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