AIA Film Challenge: A Blueprint for Better

The fourth annual AIA Film Challenge invites architects and filmmakers to collaborate in telling stories of projects done in partnership with civic leaders and the community. The Film Challenge is an opportunity to demonstrate how architects are having a positive impact on our towns and cities by creating a Blueprint for Better.

Key dates
Submissions due: August 27
Winners announced: October 2018

Register now! >
You can register today and submit your film at a later date.



  • $5,000 cash prize
    Travel and hotel accommodations for two in NYC
    Celebration and film screening at Architecture and Design Film Festival on October 16, 2018
    Film distributed across multiple AIA channels
    Official film award seal
  • $500 cash prize
    Film screened at Architecture and Design Film Festival in October 2018
    Film distributed across multiple AIA channels
    Official film award seal
  • $500 cash prize
    Film screened at Architecture and Design Film Festival in October 2018
    Film distributed across multiple AIA channels
    Official film award seal
  • $5,000 cash prize
    Travel and hotel accommodations for two in Chicago
    Celebration and film screening at Chicago Ideas Festival in October 2018
    Film distributed across multiple AIA channels
    Official film award seal

Each finalist will receive a $500 cash prize and an official film award seal


  • Thatcher Bean

    In 2013 Thatcher helped start an in-house documentary film production arm within the non-profit architecture collective MASS Design Group. Over the last five years MASS has produced over forty short works, including Design That Heals, as well as the feature length documentary MADE IN ILIMA. MASS's films examine the effects of space on society and have screened internationally. He has served as a guest critic at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, workshop instructor at Columbia University and guest lecturer at Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and Yale University.

  • Diana Budds

    Diana Budds is a New York-based architecture and design writer and the senior story producer for Curbed video. She's interested in how design affects and reflects culture. Through videos, online articles, print, and live events, she uncovers how the man-made world works and how a deeper understanding can move us toward a better place.

  • Mayor Steve Benjamin

    Since being elected mayor in a record turnout election in April 2010, Mayor Steve Benjamin has made it his mission to create in Columbia the most talented, educated and entrepreneurial city in America. In addition to serving as Mayor of Columbia, Mayor Benjamin also serves as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and as Chairman for Municipal Bonds for America, Member of the Accelerator for America Advisory Council and Co-Chair of Mayors for 100% Clean Energy campaign. Mayor Benjamin is married to the Honorable DeAndrea Gist Benjamin, Chief Administrative Judge (Common Pleas) for South Carolina's Fifth Judicial Circuit.

  • Tiffany Brown, Assoc. AIA

    Born and raised in Detroit, Tiffany holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture, a Master of Architecture, and a Master of Business Administration all from Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, MI. Tiffany serves on the K-12 Working Group with the American Institute of Architects, serves on the Champions Board of the National Girls Collaborative, and is co-founder of the Urban Arts Collective. Tiffany works diligently to raise awareness on how planning and design makes a significant social impact in urban communities, and seeks to examine the influence of the built environment and its impacts on culture, behavior, and health.

  • Lynn Hirshfield

    Lynn Hirshfield is Participant Media’s Senior Vice President of Strategic Alliances. Previously, she worked as a development executive for productions garnering various awards, including four Emmys, a Peabody Award and two Television Critics Awards for the PBS series “Wishbone.” She executive produced two documentaries, “Augie” on Hulu and “WiSci”, both directed by award-winning filmmaker James Keach. Lynn is partnering with Monumental Films on a narrative feature about Countess Ada Lovelace that is being funded by Google and SEE (the Science and Entertainment Exchange.) Lynn is an active member of the Producers Guild of America.

  • Heather Koury, Hon. AIA

    Heather Koury has served as the executive director of AIA Memphis for 15 years. Heather is guided by her passion for design and social equity, and a deeply held belief that collaboration is critical to broadening the public’s understanding of the architect’s role in bringing innovative solutions to diverse community challenges.
    Heather has forged strategic partnerships and developed innovative programs across diverse public and private sectors to advance the mission of AIA, including the Paul Revere Williams Project, encouraging documentation and publication of research regarding his contributions to both practice and community.

2017 winners

Community by Design: Skid Row Housing Trust

Grand Prize Winner


Runner Up

A Little Alcove: San Francisco Navigation Center

Third Place Winner

A Roof of Their Own

People's Choice Winner

View more videos >

News & stories

Connecting filmmakers and architects

Creating a film for the AIA Film Challenge often results in amazing benefits for both architects and filmmakers. Finding the right partnership is key to telling your story. That is why we have compiled resources and advice to help with the search. How architects can find filmmakers The easiest and potentially most effective way to […]

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Filmmaking best practices, part 2: Tell your story, win money, and make a difference

With just under two months left to submit a film for your chance to win $5,000 and screenings in New York and Chicago, it’s time to focus on concepting and filming. In the second part of our filmmaking best practices series, we will cover creating your film and connecting with the community to amplify reach. […]

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Filmmaking best practices, part 1: from vision to reality

Creating a film for the AIA Film Challenge is often an extremely rewarding experience for both filmmakers and architects, but getting started and finding your story can be difficult. That is why we created a two-part series sharing best filmmaking methods compiled over the last three years of the challenge. This week we will talk about selecting your Blueprint for Better story, the role of diversity in storytelling, and collaborating with filmmakers.

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