American Roundtable: Frequently Asked Questions

American Roundtable: Frequently Asked Questions

Applicants may also email questions to The FAQ will be updated to include additional questions and answers as asked.

Applicants may also email questions to The FAQ will be updated to include additional questions and answers as asked.

I have a last-minute question. Can I email questions right up to the deadline?
We will do our very best to respond in a timely manner to all questions. However, to guarantee a response before the deadline, please submit questions by midnight Monday, February 17.


Does the community to be explored in my report need to be a single town/city or can it be a region?
The selection committee welcomes proposals focusing on either. If you wish to explore a region explain what defines it and how looking at the built environment across it will be productive.


I’m interested in exploring a city or region with more than 400,000 residents. Can I make a case for this?
No. To give some constraints to the project we do ask that locales are limited to those under 400,000 residents. If you wish to explore a small satellite region or city, which is statistically connected to a much larger metropolitan core, you may do so, but must make a compelling case in your application as to why it is a distinct entity and would be of interest to the overall American Roundtable project.


I don’t live in the city I wish to report on. Would I be eligible?
Yes. You need not be a current resident, however, you or members of your team should be able to show strong connections to the community. Teams without on-the-ground connections and access to resident individuals will not be competitive. If you are not a current resident of the locale, please be sure to explain your previous connections to it and/or local stakeholders’ (community and civic groups, local educational institutions, local government, business organizations, etc) buy-in or engagement.


I have connections to two communities and a lot of great ideas. May I submit two proposals?
No. We ask for editors to be involved with only one proposal.


The community I wish to explore is very small. Will it be competitive against larger communities?
Yes. As long as you feel that you are able to produce a compelling report in line with the initiative’s goals, there is no minimum size for a community. We hope to commission reports ranging from very small rural towns to small cities of 400,000 or less.


Is there a preference between five single features versus multiple additional features in response to the five topics?
We ask for proposals that respond to and follow the five-part topic structure. This is to create some level of continuity through the reports and allow us to look comparatively across locales once the reports are produced. However, there is no preference as to the number or form of features within this overarching structure. We understand and acknowledge that there is great diversity in communities across the United States, and as your proposal develops certain areas may suggest greater emphasis over others. The topic/question structure is not meant to be a straitjacket or in any way limiting or overly controlling. The selection committee hopes for diverse responses in content, approach, form, and media from the proposals.


All of these topics are interconnected. Do I need to keep them siloed into discrete features or can I address them all through a handful of interdisciplinary features?
We understand that each of these topics is intrinsically interconnected and do not seek to impose artificial disciplinary or thematic boundaries. As mentioned above, the structure is intended to allow for comparative analysis and to give form to the reports. Individual features may engage with related topics and issues. You may also narrow or amplify the scope of each topic to best fit your community. Please explain your thinking in the project proposal.


Should features be impressionistic or more analytic in approach?
Neither is preferable. A diversity of approaches and voices and a creative mix of features are of most interest to the selection committee.


I am interested in producing video or audio media. May I propose such features for my report?
Yes. We welcome the inclusion of video or audio media. If you do plan to propose such media, please also explain how it might be represented or translated for inclusion in the print publication.


For the April editorial check-in, I will not have full drafts of all my features. Is that ok?
Yes. If commissioned, the mid-project check-in is simply to ensure that the project is proceeding in a productive and appropriate direction. We do not expect a full draft report by that date.


I don’t yet know many of the people whom I might commission to produce features? How many of the features need identified contributors or finalized formats for the project proposal?
While having names of contributors and specific formats confirmed is helpful for at least some features, you do not need to have all contributors finalized for your application. If you do not have specific contributors in place, be sure to explain to the selection committee the processes you plan to pursue to identify the remaining contributors. Be sure to not simply leave some sections as “to be determined.” Make sure the selection committee understands your overall conception of the report and how you realistically plan to achieve its production.


I am submitting a proposal with a large team of editors. Each editor is involved in different ways with individual features. I am worried about exceeding the requirement that no more than 25% of the report may showcase an editor’s own work or research.
If you have questions around what is considered to be an editor’s own work and research, or wish to propose a different editorial structure, please write to discuss.


I am working in a large editorial team, but there is only room on Formstack for three editors. Am I allowed to have more than three editors on the project?
We welcome any editorial structure as long as you make the case as to why it will be a productive and efficient way to produce the report. If you do have more than three editors, please send an email to noting their names and contact information and the report they are attached to.


I am interested in applying but do not have a design background. Can The Architectural League help connect me to a designer in my region?
Unfortunately, we are unable to provide this service. However, we are open to wide definitions of individuals with a design background. If you are unsure of where to look, consider being in touch with your local planning commission or economic development agency; local community groups, which often have individuals working on issues related to the built environment; local professional organizations; or a local academic institution.


I and my team are designers, community activists, business people, and artists, not professional writers. Can The Architectural League help us write our report with the raw material we assemble?
No. Commissioned teams must produce a final report ready for publication, including fact-checking and copy editing. However, the League will provide editorial feedback with teams formally in April and informally as needed. A style guide will also be shared with commissioned teams. Upon submission of final reports, the League will also review material for final editorial review and for quality control purposes.


Do I need academic expertise?
No. While those working in academia are more than welcome to apply, you need not be an academic to serve as a project editor. Similarly, while academic work, as long as accessible to the general public, is welcome, features need not and should not be exclusively academic in approach, format, or tone.


One of my features intends to be critical of an architectural project and its failures within our community. Given that this is The Architectural League, should I exclude work critical of the profession?
The Architectural League considers itself an open platform for respectful, civil, and pluralistic discourse. Part of the goal of American Roundtable is to consider the successes AND failures of our built environment. Work which is critical is eligible. However, proposals should be constructive in nature and tone with a goal of looking for ways to create more vital and vibrant communities in the future, not relitigating the past.


Does all work in a report need to be original?
No. Features can include work already produced or currently in production. Work already published elsewhere is eligible, as long as it addresses the topic being considered. However, all work proposed must have any rights or permissions cleared and be appropriately credited. Please explain in your proposal if any work has been previously shared publicly.


What is an appropriate mix of old versus new content?
There is no set formula, although a significant portion should be newly produced. The selection committee is interested in reports which give a creative, original, and incisive look at your locale. We hope that this will be achieved through a variety of means spanning a range of formats, tones, and perspectives.


Am I or my contributors able to use work included in our report for other purposes or have it published in other outlets?
We ask that American Roundtable has the right to first publish any work produced or funded through the commissions. Following publication in fall 2020, authors or artists may seek other outlets for their work.


I have access to outside funds or would like to raise funds to increase my project budget; is this allowed?
No. To maintain a level playing field among all teams, we do ask that proposals work within the $10,000 project budget and not seek outside funding to expand the capacity of their teams. However, projects need not include in-kind support for labor within the $10,000 budget. Please add a budget note, explaining any in-kind support.


May I use a third-party fiscal sponsor to receive funds? If my fiscal sponsor takes an administrative fee or an indirect overhead cost percentage, is that allowed?
Yes. We are happy to work with you and make payment to a third-party fiscal sponsor. You may also include in your budget an administrative fee that your fiscal sponsor requires. We do encourage you to try and minimize such fees and please explain in budget notes the services and support your fiscal sponsor will provide. Please note: you are not required to have third-party not-for-profit fiscal sponsorship to apply.


If I am commissioned, will I be required to proceed exactly as based on the project proposal or budget, or can I change things as the project develops?
We understand challenges arise, opportunities emerge, and projects change. While your final report should be similar in content and spirit to the proposal, changes are allowed. If commissioned, we will ask the editor(s) to consult with the League about any material changes to the project proposal or budget as they arise.


Can you advise as to what is eligible for inclusion in the budget?
Anything that is in service to the direct production of the report is eligible. We will look for budgets that are realistic, reasonable, and fair. Please email to discuss any specific questions. Please also include budget notes clarifying any budget item that you think might raise a concern or that might need additional context.


Do I need to include budget lines for the printing of my report and the webhosting and development of the report’s digital publication?
No. If commissioned, you will be responsible for providing finalized text and visual material. The League will then manage and pay for the production of the report’s layout and graphic design, as well as the print and digital publication.