Winning Strategies

Each year, ULI typically receives more than 200 entries for the Global Awards for Excellence. Of those, up to 14 winners are selected. How do these projects stand out among their peers? Below are some winning strategies that will give your submission the best chance to succeed.

The Competition Is Now Global.
Since 2012, ULI is hosting development projects from around the world in a single competition rather than in separate regional programs. Therefore, there is one application and one jury. When preparing your submission, be mindful that your project will be competing on a global scale—office buildings from Houston will be compared against commercial towers in Shanghai, shopping centers in Bangkok will compete against retail districts in Paris—so stress the international or global models or strategies it represents.

Make Sure Your Project Is Eligible.
Projects must be in stabilized operation, financially viable, and substantially completed. “Substantially completed” means a single-phase project must be finished, occupied, and in operation; for multiple-phase projects, the first phase must be finished, occupied, and in operation. If you still are not sure whether or not your project is eligible, please write to for further clarification.

There Is No “Completion Date” Requirement for the Awards.
There is no official cutoff date for project completion in the Awards for Excellence program. It’s a balancing act: on one hand, the jury appreciates projects that exhibit a strong financial track record—an advantage that a five-year-old project would have over a newly completed one. On the other hand, the jury rewards those projects that are innovative and create new models for the industry—something a ten-year-old project may not do.

Applicants Are Welcome to Resubmit Projects.
Some members of the awards jury are new each year, bringing new perspectives and points of emphasis to the table. The applicant field also changes from year to year, both in size and quality, and your project may have benefited from another year of maturation. Contact the ULI awards staff for tips for improving your application.

Good Images Are Critical.
Images that accurately represent the character and use of your project are instrumental in the jury’s decision-making process. Be sure that your images include people using the space and give the jury a sense of the project in relation to its surroundings. Provide a contact sheet with captions for each image for reference purposes, and please include photographer credits. All images must be high resolution (ideally at a minimum of 300 dpi at 8″ x 11″) as they may be used for future ULI publications and other communications channels. All images should be in electronic format (JPEG or TIFF).

Focus on the Project Description.
The project description should be direct and succinct. Focus on what sets your project apart from others, and most importantly, describe the impact—economic, social, and environmental—the space has had on its surrounding area. Be sure to provide project metrics wherever possible, as concrete numbers help the jury make their decision. Also include relevant literature on your project—newspaper and magazine articles, blog posts, etc.—that will offer an objective perspective of your project.

Pick One Person to Serve as the Primary Contact.
Decide who will spend focused attention on completing the submittal and include the contact’s name, title, telephone number, and e-mail address. You may wish to use the team members who developed the project to help draft responses to the application. However, the application will be most effective if one person coordinates and processes all information. If your project is selected as a finalist, this person will be ULI’s main point of contact for the site visit and award ceremony.

Keep It Simple.
It may be tempting to create a custom application package, but no jury member will see it. Each submission—application, attached literature, and project images—are presented to the jury in an identical manner to ensure objectivity. All extraneous material and packaging will disregarded. Keep the focus on presenting the project information and images in a clear, concise manner.

2015 Schedule

November 2014: Applications open.
March 16, 2015: Submissions deadline.
May/June 2015: Finalists announced.
June-August 2015: Site visits by jury rep.

Winners Announced: Fall Meeting in San Francisco, October 6-9, 2015

For additional information, please e-mail

2014 Finalists