National Park Service Starts Architectural Drawing Competition

March 16, 2011

Sharpen your pencils, the National Park Service has a $1,000 prize at stake in a new competition for architectural artists who create drawings of historic buildings.

“Drawings from the hands of skilled craftsmen are valuable tools when it comes to the protection of America’s treasured historic structures,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “They are a permanent record of our nation’s built environment, created with the precision needed to restore or repair these places of our past. This competition will reinvigorate this specialty and encourage the development of the talents it requires.”

The Historic American Buildings Survey, called HABS, began in 1934. The National Park Service has been its only home. The architectural drawings, large format photographs and written histories HABS uses to document historic structures are housed at the Library of Congress and are available to the public online. More than 40,000 historic structures and sites have been documented.

The competition and its prize are named for Leicester B. Holland (1882-1952), the co-founder of the Historic American Building Survey program and head of the Fine Arts Division of the Library of Congress.

Catherine Lavoie leads the Historic American Buildings Survey today. “The Holland Prize is intended to increase awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of historic sites, structures, and landscapes throughout the United States while adding to our permanent collection. By requiring only a single sheet, the competition challenges the student or professional to capture the essence of the site through the presentation of key features that reflect its historic and its architectural, landscape architectural or engineering significance,” Lavoie said.

Drawings of historic buildings are a crucial component of architectural education. Lavoie said they provide opportunity for young architects to gain an understanding of the principles of design and construction and in addition to their use for restoration work, contribute to new design projects.

The competition will be administered by the National Park Service’s Heritage Documentation Programs. Entries of an historic building, site, or structure including engineering sites and historic landscapes must be prepared by an individual or individuals to standards established by HABS or its sister programs the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), or the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS).

In addition to the cash, the winning drawing will be published in Architectural Record magazine.

May 31 is the deadline for entry form submissions and June 30 is the deadline for submission of completed entries. To download the Holland Prize entry form, competition rules and recommendations visit:

The prize is supported by the Paul Rudolph Trust, Architectural Record, a magazine of the American Institute of Architects (AIA); and theCenter for Architecture, Design & Engineering in the Library of Congress, and the National Park Service.

The Holland prize joins the Peterson Prize in drawing competitions. Each year the HABS/HAER/HALS programs offer students employment and training opportunities. Please visit for student employment information and for information about the Peterson Prize.

And be sure to visit us on Facebook with professionals, friends, alumni, project sponsors, and others interested in our work of recording America’s architectural, engineering and landscape heritage through measured drawings, written historical reports and large-format photography.”

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