AIA Film Challenge 2021 winners

The AIA Film Challenge 2021 invited architects, filmmakers, and storytellers to produce 1.5- to 3-minute documentaries highlighting architects, civic leaders, and their communities working together to achieve a zero-carbon, resilient, healthy, just, and equitable built environment.

Participants produced, shot, and edited documentary-style short films showcasing their Blueprint for Better story to win cash prizes, distribution at film festivals, and exposure on AIA’s online channels, as well as partner film and architecture organizations.

A panel of judges made up of architects as well as film and media professionals selected the Grand Prize Winner, the Runner Up, and the Third Place Winner based on the films’ adherence to the prompt, storytelling arc, architectural placement, and technical merit. The People’s Choice Award was selected through votes cast online by the public. The judges and the AIA extend congratulations to the winning filmmakers and project teams.

Grand Prize–POP Courts!

POP Courts! by filmmaker Brodie Kerst and Lamar Johnson Collaborative won the 2021 Grand Prize. Pop Courts is a pop-up park in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s Westside. Imagined as a respite from the challenges brought on by the pandemic, Pop Courts provides much-needed outdoor amenity space in the heart of Austin. Situated in the middle of the “Soul City Corridor” along Chicago Avenue identified by the City’s Invest SouthWest initiative, Pop Courts is part of a larger vision to bring development to Chicago’s underinvested, and primarily black and brown communities. Watch the video >

Runner Up–Listen.

The 2021 runner up is Listen. by filmmaker Francisco Lopez de Arenosa. The film presents the restorative efforts made to Chicago’s Big Marsh Park aimed at setting the park on a new course, where industry, nature, and culture can safely coexist, including the Ford Calumet Environmental Center – designed by Valerio Dewalt Train—at the park’s entrance. Watch the video >

Third Place–Two Pieces of Plywood

Two Pieces of Plywood, by filmmaker Kevin Moravec, is the 2021 third-place winner. This film shares the story of one campaign: Curbside Notary in Kansas City, Missouri. Designed and built by Hufft Architects, two simple pieces of plywood were used to create portable notary stations for voting locations during the 2020 general election. Watch the video >

People’s Choice–A Jewel in Appalachia

The People’s Choice Award went to A Jewel in Appalachia by filmmaker Alex Michl. The story shows us the renovated Lawrence County Public Library in Louisa, Kentucky, designed by OPN Architects. The library is now a jewel in the community—a place where a love for learning is on display, showing residents that they deserve to aspire for better. The film received nearly 10,000 votes from the public during the voting period. Watch the video >