Understanding the prompt

The AIA Film Challenge 2020 prompt is to tell a story about architects partnering with communities and civic leaders to design a healthy, sustainable, just world that improves peoples’ lives. Read on to better understand what that means.


A project that helps create a healthy world should support the comfort, health, and well-being of the people who inhabit or visit the building. Examples of this include:

  • An alternative care site or another project in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Showing how strategic design choices can optimize natural and artificial lighting.
  • Addressing the main factors of thermal comfort such as air temperature, humidity, and air movement.
  • Showing how effective strategies to enhance indoor air quality are implemented, such as high-quality air filtration systems and the use of healthy building materials.
  • Highlighting design elements like access to healthy food and exercise.
  • Creating an authentic connection to nature.


A project that is contributing to a more sustainable world incorporates one or more of the techniques below.

  • The design is shaped around the project’s goals and performance criteria.
  • The project protects and benefits the natural ecosystems and habitats that surround it.
  • The project’s siting and operations reduce transportation-related emissions by improving walkability and providing alternative transportation options.
  • The project conserves and improves the quality of water, especially rainfall.
  • The building provides “more with less” through cost-effective design decisions, economic performance analysis, economic equity strategies, notable return-on-investment outcomes, contributions to local and disadvantaged economies, etc.
  • The project conserves energy while improving building performance, function, comfort, and enjoyment.
  • The project uses safer materials and products to reduce negative environmental impacts while enhancing building performance.
  • The building is a retrofit, reuse, or resilient project that seeks to maintain and enhance usability, functionality, and value over time.


The AIA Code of Ethics states that architects should employ their professional knowledge and skill to design buildings and spaces that will enhance and facilitate human dignity and the health, safety, and welfare of individuals and the public. Just projects prioritize this people-focused, inclusive design to create social equity and increase positive change. Examples of this include:

  • Architects engaged in an inclusive community during the design and development process.
  • Projects that promote alternative forms of transportation, giving community members the freedom to choose among multiple ways to safely and comfortably commute to the building.
  • Projects with improved access, including wide entrances, smooth thresholds, and ramps, that benefit the physically disabled, families with strollers, bicycle commuters, and those with temporary physical injuries.
  • Projects with on-site amenities that are accessible to and inclusive of everyone, such as welcoming public spaces and special programs, such as free museum nights.
  • Projects that are well researched to understand the site or community and its history, which deepen the meaning of the project’s concept.
  • Projects with diverse design teams, backgrounds, and perspectives.
  • Projects that encourage chance encounters instead of grouping those with similar backgrounds. This can be done through centralized communal spaces, such as kitchens or bathrooms, that everyone needs to visit or wide stairs that are daylit well and prominently located,  for impromptu conversations and connections.

For more details, visit AIA’s Framework for Design Excellence.