As a first-time judge for a residential design contest last weekend, I did my best to sort through fifteen design submittals - all from three local high schools. To ensure that there was no bias, the names of the students and the schools were not readily visible within the display. Each individual submittal was scored according to five major categories and a long list of criteria. To our dismay, the top four winners have come from the same school for the past several years. While I am certain that the top school is very proud, I want to encourage the other schools and explain how they can do better next year. Their teacher seems a bit frustrated and I fear that they may choose not to participate again next year. While I know that design aesthetics can be very subjective, I thought I would reach out to you for some general advice.
I can send an example of the score sheet if you would like to comment on it.
Richard Burton, AIA
Answer It seems odd that the winners are coming from the same school. Are the judges impartial? What is the general criteria for the submittals? If modernism is pushed over traditionalism I suspect that the modern aesthetics would be more readily accepted by an upper class student body, whereas the lower income students may prefer traditional elements. Just a theory.
Are the students asked to design houses based on some kind of checklist given by the judges? Who is the sponsor of the event?
I would suggest having one or two practitioners go out to all the schools and offer a few workshop/seminars with the same material.
I have not done any judging myself on any level but am familiar with groups that go out to builder sponsored events and the results can be mixed...
Thanks for the question.
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