I’m not going to lie, there were a lot of questions surrounding the changes to this year’s Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition. After I introduced everyone to my awesome new collaboration with Houzz and the American Institute of Architects, there were a number of folks that seemed perplexed by the changes and told me “privately” that they didn’t really understand what was happening. So I am writing an all new shiny post just for you that should clear up any remaining questions … and to point out one really simple but important fact:
You Have More Opportunities to Get Your Playhouse Built!
Did you know that last year when I managed this entire competition by myself, there were three winners, and there fore 3 playhouses built? Don’t get me wrong, three winners is awesome – BUT – this year there could be as many as 16 playhouses built!! Let me break this down for you:
- Go to Houzz and set up a profile (if you don’t already have one)
- Once you have your profile, go here and upload your sketches, drawings, renderings – anything. you. want. You can upload as much as you want. There are no limits!
- Write a brief description of how your design fits this year’s theme of “Adventure” and inspires imaginative play.
- Share your entryon social media with your friends, family and colleagues, and ask them to “like” your entry on Houzz.
- Do all of this as soon as you can because entries are due by 5pm PT on April 8th. The sooner you have your entry online, the longer period of time you’ll have to get people to vote for your playhouse. The voting will end at 5pm PT on April 15th. I can reasonably assume that most people would like to take as much time as possible to get their entries completed but in this case, it really is to your benefit to get your design in early so that the Houzz using general public (of which there are over 35 million of them on the Houzz website) can see your entry and vote for it.
- Make sure you read the PlayHouzz official rules – there’s important information on there (design and size criteria among other things.)
(If you haven’t read the original post introducing this year’s Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition, you should check it out since it provides all the links to construction guidelines, where you upload your drawings on the Houzz – all sorts of data that you should at least be familiar with)
A handful of people expressed some concern to me that they thought that unless they had 15,000 relatives, they have no chance at winning. This is not true … nobody has 15,000 relatives. There are really two categories of winners. People that win the Houzz Playhouse portion of the Competition (which is determined by popular vote) OR they could win my playhouse competition which involves me sitting in the front room of my house with other architects, contractors, friends, and the children of my friends. We will still sort through all the entries submitted to Houzz regardless of the popular vote and select our own finalists, just like I have done in all previous versions of the Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition … so that’s pretty awesome, right? Wait – it get’s better but you have to go all the way down to the bottom to read new and very exciting developments.
Like I said, there are more chances to win, which also means more playhouses built, which translates to more charities that can benefit from your talents. Win-Win-Win.
Okay, back on the Houzz portion of the competition. There will be one super-duper overall winner of the The PlayHouzz 2016 competition. That person will receive:
- Houzz editorial coverage featuring the playhouse designer and entry
- Playhouse built and featured at AIA Convention 2016 in Philadelphia
- Prize trip to AIA Convention 2016 (including airfare and hotel) for U.S.- or Canada-based winner. Clarification – anybody can win this category but you have to be a US or Canada based winner to get the trip to the AIA Convention in Philadelphia.
There will be 2 PlayHouzz Runners-Up. Those folks will receive:
- Houzz editorial coverage featuring the playhouse designer and entry
- Houzz will work with PlayHouzz partnersto build the winning designs for a charity or nonprofit that benefits children. Clarification – you still get your playhouse built, it just won’t necessarily be in Philadelphia.
Finally – in the PlayHouzz portion of the competition – there are 10 AIA Local Winners. What that means is that up to 10 participating AIA components will be eligible to receive funds from Houzz and the AIA to build playhouse designs from their members entries that receive the most “likes” in the competition. AIA components will donate these playhouses locally or use them to raise funds for a charity or nonprofit that benefits children. Houzz will also feature these playhouses in an editorial article. The way this works is that the AIA component will need to have at least 20 entries to go submitted in order to go into the lottery (assuming that there are more than 10 AIA components that have more than 20 entries). From there, 10 Components will be drawn at random to determine which will be eligible to have a winning playhouse built. The way the winning playhouse is selected is that the entry from that AIA component with the most online votes will be the winner. It’s complicated the first few times you read it through but once you get it, it’s not that complicated.
Okay … are you still with me? Good. Now let’s talk about my portion of this competition. As I mentioned previously (in the sidebar portion above) I will still have my competition just like normal, and I will still be building (at this point) 3 playhouses … just like last year. I will assemble my typical assortment of kick-ass judges and we will go through the evaluation criteria just like always. The only difference is that you aren’t sending your entries to me … they’re going to Houzz and from there, my crack team of judges will select the finalists and ultimately, the winning playhouse designs.
You’ll need to know some basic parameters in order to actually design one of these playhouses. Click here for the playhouse guidelines – this is the document that tells you the size constraints. This is Very Important!! If you don’t get the size right, we can’t use your playhouse. Please make sure that you don’t design a playhouse that is bigger than allowed!
Protection – since the playhouses from my competition will be on display in a mall, they must have all openings either closed or protected so that enthusiastic children don’t actually play on the playhouses during this time. A common solution is to put Plexiglas over the openings but the amount of openings you may have can make this solution difficult to execute. Things like slides and rock walls are frowned upon because they are difficult to protect without resorting to making a giant Plexiglas cover. Think of these playhouses more like little buildings than structures you would find on a playground.
I have a super awesome piece of news to share with you. I have been working with SketchUp to get them involved in this years competition. Not only have they enthusiastically agreed, they will be funding the construction of one of the Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition playhouses. In addition to their financial support, they have put together an awesome prize pack! I am creating a special SketchUp category to showcase the skill of the best winning design that uses SketchUp software. Considering that over the last four years almost every single entry I have received was created in SketchUp, this collaboration was a no-brainer. Check out this prize pack:
- A SketchUp Pro license (and a credit to get the SketchUp Mobile Viewer for free)
- A free trip to 3D Basecamp 2016 in Steamboat Springs (for US/CA participants)
- A SketchUp swag bag
- A project review on the SketchUp Blog.
Hmmmm …I’m wondering how I can win this for myself.
Finally, there is one last piece of information that I should point out. If you have submitted an entry to the Life of an Architect Playhouse Design Competition in the past, I have spoken with the powers that be at Houzz and they have agreed to let you re-enter previously submitted designs into this years PlayHouzz 2016 competition! It would be to your benefit to reformat your entry from a single 24″ x 36″ vertically oriented board into several individual files – they will show much better if you upload your drawings separately – not to mention that you get to pick which image you use for the cover of your PlayHouzz Ideabook.
Seriously – think about this for a minute. If you’ve ever submitted a playhouse to me in the past, I am telling you to resubmit it to the PlayHouzz 2016 competition so that the 35 MILLION people who use Houzz can check out your design and vote for it. This really couldn’t be easier.
I hope this clears things up – I can appreciate how change is sometimes confusing. Hopefully you’ve now come to realize that this is just as awesome as before, but more awesomer.
Cheers – and get those playhouses designed!