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Innovation Nation: Small Architecture Firms Can Now Enter the A+Awards for Less

This year, Architizer is striving to make the A+Awards — the world’s largest architectural awards program — more accessible for talented architects and design teams around the globe. One of the ways in which we’re doing this is to offer small firms — those with 1-10 members of staff — a special discount through October 29th, giving them an additional $50 off Early Bird pricing. If you fall into this category, we cordially invite you to apply for global recognition and international publication through the A+Awards program this year. To get started, hit the blue button below to log in to the Entry Portal, and make sure to enter the coupon code APLUSSMALL at check out to receive your discount:

Enter the A+Awards [Discount Code: APLUSSMALL]

Small firms matter to the architecture industry. According to the data, more than 80% of American architecture firms employ less than 10 members of staff, and, according to the AIA, the number of firms in this category is increasing all the time. The average firm size has declined in the past decade, driven by opposing factors: Economic challenges have led to many mid-sized firms downsizing, while there has been a proliferation of smaller firms run by young, tech-savvy architects seeking greater autonomy and flexibility.

And yet, despite their diminutive size, these firms have a dramatically outsized impact on the creative and technical progression of the profession. For evidence, one need look no further than the extraordinary work submitted for last year’s A+Firm Awards in the “Best Small Firm” category, ultimately won by Shulin Architectural Design of China with Finalist spots for Faulkner Architects, META-Project, Cherem Arquitectos and He Wei Studio/3andwich Design.

Among the submitting firms — the Best Small Firm Award was one of the most popular in last season’s program — a total of 18 architectural practices were recognized as either a Winner, a Finalist or a Special Mention, granting them a permanent spot in the iconic A+Awards Winners’ Gallery

Works by last season’s A+Awards Best Small Firms, clockwise from top left: Shulin Architectural Design, Cherem Arquitectos, META-Project and Faulkner Architects

The submitted works by these firms oozed with innovation, exhibiting a creative courage that belied the size of the design teams that brought them to life. In fact, it’s arguable that their size puts them in a unique position to pioneer new ideas in a way that is simply not possible for many internationally renowned, corporate firms. Freed from the administrative shackles associated with much larger firms, these architectural thinkers and makers are able to forge new paths, experimenting with new materials and conceptualizing details that are uniquely adapted to meet the needs of their clients.

On the flip side, it’s hard to be small. Firms with less resources often have to deliver built projects without the safety net of having dozens of other big projects on the go, something larger firms can do to reduce financial risk and manage their cashflow. The economic facts are sobering: According to Architectural Record, half of small architecture firms fail after five years, and 70 percent are closed by year 10. For those that do make it, the challenge to remain relevant, sustainable and resilient enough to withstand wider challenges (COVID anyone?) remains a constant.

Despite and perhaps because of these hurdles, the work of small architecture practices demands our attention. Time and time again, it is the smallest firms that submit the most, thought-provoking, precedent-setting, avant-garde projects in the A+Awards each year. These projects are what the program is all about — celebrating architecture at the cutting edge of the profession, highlighting buildings and designers that others can look to for inspiration in the decades to come.

For this reason, we encourage architects from small firms to enter their work for this special anniversary edition of the program, and help set the benchmark for the industry. We invite you to apply for both the “Best Small Firm” category, an integral part of the A+Awards this year, and any number of the individual Project Categories — hit the blue button below to access the Entry Portal and get started:

Start Submission [Discount Code: APLUSSMALL]

Note: The special discount code can be applied for up to 3 submissions through October 29th, and will reduce the price of each submission by $50. This coupon is eligible for entrants from firms of 10 staff or less only. Good luck from all of us at Architizer, and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected]!

Top image: Lookout House by Faulkner Architects, 2021 A+Firm Awards Finalist in the Best Small Firm category.

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