2022 Architecture + Design Independent Projects Grants

A competitive grant program in partnership with the New York State Council on the Arts.

The Architecture + Design Independent Projects grant program is a partnership between the New York State Council on the Arts and The Architectural League of New York, awarding grants for New York State-based individuals and teams to explore a design topic through creation or research.

For the 2022 cycle, this program will award 18 grants of $10,000 to proposals in design fields, including architecture, landscape architecture, historic preservation, community-centered design, fashion, graphic, industrial, and interior design. The League and NYSCA are pleased to enter into this pilot partnership and to work in concert to administer the Independent Projects program for interested applicants.

In prior years, NYSCA’s Independent Projects program required applicants to submit requests through an intermediary sponsoring organization. Through this partnership, the League will receive all proposals using our Award Force platform and evaluate them together with NYSCA to select projects for funding. Read on for an overview of the program and requirements, and download the complete 2022 Program Guidelines for full information on general requirements, eligibility, and the application process.

Program goals

Design is everywhere. Recognizing design as an art form that can enhance our quality of life, the Independent Projects program seeks proposals that emphasize artistry and design excellence, that may contribute to a broader understanding of design, and/or that advance a design discipline. Critically, design must be at the core of any proposal, and the outcome must be accessible to the public. Projects might, for example, create a design prototype, advance new ideas in community design, research a topic in design or architectural history, or engage in critical or theoretical analysis.

Below are some recent examples of topics that Independent Projects grants have addressed:

  • The invasive Emerald Ash Borer, a beetle destroying ash trees across the United States, leaves behind wood that is considered unmarketable. Using 3D laser scanning and robotics-based fabrication technology, architects Leslie Lok and Sasa Zivkovic of HANNAH are exploring new ways to build with this waste wood, promoting sustainable design.
  • Designer Amy Sperber created a unique, open-source, online portal offering fashion designers 3D avatars of realistic, diverse body types. With this tool, Sperber helps to push the world of fashion design towards greater inclusivity.
  • For the women who gather daily at “The Corner,” on a highway overpass in Brooklyn, the location is critical to finding work, yet also unhealthy and unsafe. Architectural designer Elsa Ponce Vargas is engaging with these day laborers in design charrettes to explore how design can improve this public space for the people who rely on it.
  • Landscape architect Julia Watson’s groundbreaking and award-winning publication Lo—TEK. Design by Radical Indigenism researches, analyzes and documents sustainable ecological technologies from the landscapes of the world’s indigenous people. An Independent Projects award helped support writing, drawings, and image permissions.

For many years, both NYSCA and the League have supported diverse and creative explorations in design. Where can design go next? Through this partnership, we welcome proposals that seek to answer this question.

Key dates

February 16, 2022
Independent Projects guidelines are posted and the application portal opens.

April 13, 2022
Deadline for submissions. Application portal closes at 11:59 p.m. EDT.
Please note: Program staff may not be available to answer questions after 6:00 p.m. EDT.

May 2022
Review panel convenes and award decisions are made.

June 2022
Applicants are notified of panel decisions.

July 1, 2022
Award period starts and project activity commences.

June 30, 2023
Award period ends and project activity concludes. Project leads prepare reports on work carried out during the award period.

Eligibility and funding restrictions

The Independent Projects program is open to individuals and teams based in New York State. Applicants must be professionals in their design field and the proposed work must be truly independent; work related to a course curriculum or degree program, commissioned work for a client, recreational activities, and out-of-state travel expenses are not eligible for funding. Current NYSCA and Architectural League staff are not eligible.

Proposals must emphasize design and the ways that the creative process can make an impact on the topic or problem the applicant seeks to explore. Award funds may be used to compensate the artist’s or team’s time spent on project activities, as well as related project expenses, consumable materials, and travel expenses within New York State only. This is a competitive grant program and not all proposals will receive funding. Each successful proposal will be awarded $10,000.

Proof of New York State residency
Each applicant, and each team member, must have their primary residence within New York State at the time of submission and throughout the award period, if their proposal is selected for funding. Failure to adhere to this requirement will result in forfeiture of award funds.

Applicants whose proposals are selected for funding will be required to present two matching documents verifying New York State residency. The League and NYSCA reserve the right to request additional documentation, if necessary. A full list of acceptable documents can be found in the 2022 Program Guidelines.

Application components

Applicants will submit all materials through the program entry form on Award Force. A complete submission consists of the following components:

▪ Certification of eligibility and New York State residency, for the applicant and all team members (note: you must certify New York State residency here and will be asked to show your proof of residency documents if your proposal is selected for funding).

▪ Contact information and project overview.

▪ A project narrative of up to 10,000 characters (including spaces) that responds to each of the six areas of the program prompt:

  1. Project Overview: Describe the project, emphasizing the role of design.
  2. Project Context: Provide specific context to show how this project builds on existing work in your design field, addresses a need, or tackles a topic or problem in the field in a new way. Discuss how the project will advance and contribute to its field.
  3. Project Lead or Team: Highlight the qualifications of the individual or team, demonstrating the necessary experience and qualifications to carry out this project.
  4. Project Activities: What work do you plan to do during the grant period (July 1, 2022–June 30, 2023)? If more than one person is involved, describe how the work will be delegated or coordinated.
  5. Project Budget: Please explain how you will spend the $10,000 award to execute this project. If your project necessitates more funding, where will that come from?
  6. Project Audience and Accessibility: Define the project’s intended audience and how this project will be made accessible to that audience during the award period. If the project’s impact will also extend beyond June 30, 2023, please describe.

▪ Required supporting materials, uploaded as a single, combined PDF file of no more than 30 MB:

  1. 1-page résumé or CV for each team member.
  2. Visuals: Up to 12 pages of sample images.
  3. Optional for proposed publications: A 1-page outline and up to 5 pages of sample text.

▪ Additional supporting details for projects that require commitment or permission from an outside authority, such as publications, installations, and exhibitions.

Evaluation criteria

Each proposal will be evaluated according to how fully it responds to the three program criteria: Impact and Creativity, Project Execution, and Audience and Accessibility. These criteria should inform every part of your materials. Successful submissions will make the case for a project that advances a new idea or creative approach to a problem in design; can realistically be accomplished during the grant period; utilizes the specific expertise of the individual or team; and presents a clear plan to reach and benefit the public.

Impact and Creativity
“Impact and Creativity” prioritizes support for innovative ideas that push a given design field forward and demonstrate the outcome of the creative process. In addressing this criterion, make sure your project is described clearly, providing details and avoiding jargon. It should be framed within your design field and demonstrate awareness of existing work or research that is relevant to your project area. If you are in a research or prototyping phase, make sure to describe the questions/approaches you will explore in 2022.

Project Execution
“Project Execution” asks you to demonstrate how you have designed your project to best use your own expertise. The strongest requests make clear that the applicants are specifically qualified to pursue this work and have a viable plan to meet the stated goals within the award period. If the work proposed requires more than $10,000, requests should clearly show how these outside funds will be raised.

Audience and Accessibility
As NYSCA is a public funder, public dissemination of work produced with these awards is crucial. The “Audience and Accessibility” criterion requires that your project has a life outside of your office or studio. Clearly identify for whom the work is intended and describe a realistic plan and means to disseminate it. All areas of your application should support this: for example, don’t propose an exhibition if you have not demonstrated any experience in this work. If the public dimension will occur outside of the award year (July 2022–June 2023), please explain.


The 2022 Architecture + Design Independent Projects Partnership is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

More information

Please visit the Frequently Asked Questions page for this program to find answers to common questions.