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Call for Submissions
2020 AIA Upjohn Research Initiative

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The AIA Upjohn Research Initiative supports applied research projects that enhance the value of design and professional practice knowledge.

This AIA program funds up to six research grants of $15,000–$30,000 annually for projects completed in a 6-to 18-month period. The funds must be fully matched with hard dollars, with a maximum of 10% allocated for overhead. Grant recipients’ research findings and outcomes are published online by AIA.

You will be using this site to upload your grant proposal and your contact information.

Please login above and follow the instructions to complete your submission.

2020 Grants

Research should be relevant and applicable to practicing architects. Upjohn Research grant funding will be allocated to projects related to the priorities outlined in AIA's 2020 Climate Action Plan. These include a drive toward sustainable design that helps mitigate or adapt to climate change. More specifically, research projects must address one or more of these areas:

I. MITIGATION: address the building industry's footprint as a source of operational and embodied carbon; advance carbon-neutrality
  • embodied carbon accounting for existing buildings
  • embodied carbon opportunities in different regions and scales
  • distributed energy and grid-integrated buildings
  • net-zero carbon buildings (i.e., design strategies, materials, technology)
  • water-energy-carbon nexus
  • regenerative design (i.e., projects that lead to the improvement of the ecosystem, creating resilient and equitable systems)
  • circular building economy (e.g., materials market)
  • landscape or site design strategies

II. ADAPTATION: address the impacts of climate change in our spaces, buildings, structures, and communities in order to become more functional and high performing
  • durability and sustainability of materials (e.g., low carbon, non-toxic, resource efficient)
  • building vulnerability assessment processes to address shocks and stresses
  • hazard mitigation building/retrofit design strategies for climate hazards
  • temporary and transitional housing models
  • building strategies (e.g., design, materials) to promote occupant and/or community health and well-being
  • passive survivability design strategies
  • improving equity through adaptation of spaces/neighborhoods

Submission Details
  • Project title
  • Abstract (250 word max; include project concept and brief description of methodology)
  • Budget
  • Summary of projected outcomes (300 word max; include brief description of how the project would help mitigate or adapt to climate change)
  • Clients and knowledge communities served (250 word max)
  • Approach to collaboration/partnership (250 word max)
  • Images (optional)
  • Principal investigator(s) with institutional affiliation(s) and contact information
  • Contact information for three references
Omit any identifying information from the title, descriptive text, budget, and the optional images (including file properties in optional images) before submitting for the blind review process.

Criteria and Selection

Given their role in helping establish the program, the jury panel is comprised of seven professionals from the AIA Board Knowledge Committee and the AIA College of Fellows.

The jury evaluates each submission and selects the grant awardees based on the following criteria and weighting. Please consider these when preparing your application.
  • Demonstration that the research enhances the value of design and/or professional practice knowledge (30%)
  • Innovation (25%)
  • Evidence of collaboration/partnership (20%)
  • Validity of research method (15%)
  • Strength of projected outcomes related to alignment with theme (10%)

Submission deadline: September 1, 2020 by 5pm Pacific
Notifications to applicants: by November 2, 2020
Verification of matching funds and agreement: by November 23, 2020

Submission fee: None

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are applicants from outside the United States eligible to apply and receive funding?
A: International applications are eligible to submit; funds for grant recipients will be dispersed in U.S. dollars.

Q: May an applicant submit more than one proposal?
A: Yes.

Q: May an applicant be involved in more than one submission?
A: Yes.

Q: May an applicant have received funding from the Upjohn grants in previous cycles?
A: Yes. The following are encouraged: New projects, related but distinct previously funded projects, and unfunded projects from prior Upjohn grant applications. The AIA will determine whether a project previously funded through the Upjohn program is eligible. If applicable, please fill out Task 6: Optional for previous recipients of an Upjohn grant only.

Q: What are the matching funds requirements?
A: When grant recipients are selected, recipients are required to submit verification/documentation of matching hard-dollar funds as part of the agreement process prior to disbursement of funds. The grant agreement (to be signed by the grant recipient) will have space for noting the dollar amount of matching funds and the source(s). The Match Funds Amount cannot include waiving of/or paying of fringe benefits (i.e., overhead, cost recovery, department administrative support or any other accounting term/principal that implies other than a direct outlay of funds paid to the Grant Recipient).

Q: Would in-kind instrumentation be considered a source of matching funds?
A: No.

Q: Is there any further guidance on submittals?
These are general feedback points from previous jury cycles. These may or may not apply to your submission.
  • Avoid unnecessary jargon and acronyms. They can distract from conveying the importance of the work. If acronyms are essential, spell them out in their first occurrence.
  • Communicate within the budget section how the how the grant funds would be used to accomplish the intended objectives.
  • Be specific with detail about the project in order to add credibility to the proposal. It is a blind review, but detailed project methodologies, metrics, outcomes, and processes will help the project be viewed as well prepared and credible.
  • Be clear and substantive about the collaborative aspects of the project. Do not state the names of partners (this is a blind review), but on how you would work together and the kind of stakeholders involved/benefiting.
  • Consider and articulate both the immediacy and the longevity of the impact of the work.
  • Demonstrate the universality of your proposal.
    • If taking place in/on a specific geographical area, be specific as to how it will be applicable to other locations in the U.S. and/or around the world.
    • If specific to one building type or sector, note how the project may be applicable to other building types or sectors.
  • Be innovative. Advance a new concept. Alternatively, demonstrate specialization that is unique and adds to the body of knowledge.
  • Where appropriate, clearly recognize and articulate how your research is contributing to and founded on a prior body of knowledge.
  • If studying an older material or technology, be specific as to the history of that product and its current state as well as how it is being advanced.