SOM Prize for Architecture, Design and Urban Design

Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill Foundation

SOM Prize for Architecture, Design, and Urban Design offers two awards that are given yearly. The SOM Prize awards a $50,000 research and travel fellowship while the Travel Fellowship provides a $20,000 grant. The fellowship is given to students and newly graduates of Architecture, Design (including interior design, landscape architecture, environmental graphics, or industrial design) and Urban Design.

Key Information

Eligibility Requirements

  • Age/Grade Level:
    The applicant must be a college, graduate or Ph.D. student.
  • Financial Need:
    Not Mentioned
  • College:
    Applicants must have received or plan to receive an undergraduate or graduate degree from a U.S. school.
  • Major/Career:
    The applicant must have attended or currently attending an accredited degree program in either Architecture, Design or Urban Design.

Application Details

  • Transcript:
    Not required
  • Resume/Activity List:
    Not required
  • Recommendation Letters:
    A sealed Letter of Recommendation on school letterhead from a thesis advisor or senior faculty member. The letter should address the students specific strengths and how the award will further his/her growth. Applicants are strongly advised to secure this letter before leaving campus at the end of the semester. Many professors will not be readily available during the summer and the letter of recommendation is mandatory.
  • Portfolio/Work Samples:
    In the past, jurors felt students were putting more work into the portfolio casings than into the portfolio contents. Therefore, the Foundation strongly recommends a commonly used binder. The Itoya Portfolio Binder (8 x 11 or 11 x 17 in black) can be found in most college and university bookstores, local art supply stores, or online at or Candidates are not required to use the Itoya portfolio; however, they should match its specifications as closely as possible. Portfolios that exceed size and format specifications may be disqualified. Twelve, one-sided pages not to exceed 11 x 17. The 12-page total does not include the cover sheet, the letter of recommendation, the authorization form, copyright release statement or the candidates research agenda and travel itinerary (see below).The candidates name or school should not appear on any page other than the cover sheet. Instead, the assigned identification number must be included on the binder cover and on each page of the portfolio. The submission should be prepared under academic supervision (i.e. department chair or academic advisor) and clearly demonstrate progressive achievement. Only work completed at the college or university where the candidate was/is enrolled can be included. No professional work allowed. Given the collaborative nature of most programs, group work is allowed; however, it should be used sparingly. The candidates role in the project must be clearly explained in the portfolio. No glued pieces or loose sheets that may become separated from portfolio. Retain a copy of your submission for your professional files. Originals will not be returned.
  • Other Materials:
    The applicant must submit the following:1. Cover Letter2. The Authorization Form (attached) signed by the department chair or dean. This form confirms that the student meets all requirements for eligibility. Applicants are strongly advised to secure this authorization form before leaving campus at the end of the semester. An appropriate staff person may not be readily available during the summer and the authorization form is mandatory. 3. The Copyright Release Statement (attached). The winning submissions will become part of the SOM Foundations archive. The Foundation reserves the right to use the winning submissions, winners travel memos and Final Report or any portion thereof - in press releases, presentations, exhibits, history books, and similar publications, as well as for public access for student and educational purposes in all media, including the Internet. 4. Research Abstract and Travel Itinerary Candidates are advised to carefully prepare their research proposal and travel itinerary, as these may be reviewed by the jury in advance of design portfolios. Spend adequate time developing an idea and explaining how it relates to your interests and how you and the profession may benefit. It is meaningful if candidates include specific locations, sites, structures and professionals they intend to visit, document and interview. Check for typos and misspellings. The research abstract is limited to one page. The proposed travel itinerary is limited to one page (cost breakdown not necessary). Bind one copy of each in the portfolio (not counted as two of the 12 project pages) and send one copy of each separately may be placed inside 9 x 12 envelope with administrative forms listed above.

Contact Information