AIA announces film challenge winners

Four short documentary films have been chosen as the winners of the AIA Film Challenge 2021.

WASHINGTON – Oct. 22, 2021 – The American Institute of Architects (AIA) announced today winners of the AIA Film Challenge 2021.

Judges selected POP Courts!—by filmmaker Brodie Kerst and Lamar Johnson Collaborative—as this year’s Grand Prize winner. POP Courts!  provides much-needed outdoor amenity space in the heart of Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. The film will receive a $5,000 cash award as well as other prizes.

This year’s 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. The film will receive a $3,000 prize.

Two Pieces of Plywood, by filmmaker Kevin Moravec, is the 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. The film will receive a $2,000 prize.

The People’s Choice Award—A Jewel in Appalachia—by filmmaker Alex Michl—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, which closed Oct. 3, and will receive a $2,000 prize.

Grand prize, runner up, and third place recipients were selected by a panel of judges, while the People’s Choice Award was selected through votes cast online by the public. Judges for the AIA Film Challenge 2021 were AIA 2021 First Vice President/2022 President Dan Hart, FAIA; filmmaker and 2020 Grand Prize Winner John Gordon; Midland Architecture Principal Greg Dutton, Assoc. AIA; and Perkins&Will Principal and Director of Global Diversity Gabrielle Bullock, FAIA.

The AIA Film Challenge, which is celebrating its seventh anniversary in 2021, is an annual crowdsourced creative competition sponsored by AIA. The challenge brings architects, filmmakers, and storytellers together to produce short films that showcase architects making a positive impact in communities around the globe

Visit to learn more about this year’s winners, and to watch dozens of short films produced in 2021, which creatively feature architecture and the built environment.

Follow @AIANational and use #AIAFilmChallenge to join the conversation on social media.

About AIA

Founded in 1857, AIA consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through more than 200 international, state and local chapters, AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing.

AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation, and world. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards.


Matt Tinder
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