The Ken Roberts is the

most senior architectural

drawing competition

currently in operation

anywhere in the world.

In the late 1920's, The Architectural League of New York established the first American competition for architectural drawings. It was named after Birch Long, one of their greatly talented and much-loved members who died while working on their 1927 exhibition. The "Birch Burdette Long Memorial Prize" was awarded annually until 1972, when it was discontinued for lack of interest in architectural illustration.

It seems a remarkable coincidence, indeed that a new annual event in far-away Texas was initiated the following year by the Dallas Chapter of the AIA, and was subsequently named for the untimely death of a respected colleague.

This event preceded by two years the 1975 founding of the British Society of Architecture Illustrators (SAI), the first of several national organizations to follow. In 1980 the Japanese Architectural Renderers Association (JARA) was initiated, followed by the 1986 founding of The American Society of Architectural Perspectivists (ASAP) in Boston by Frank Constantino, Steve Rich and myself. The NYSR in New York and the short-lived New Jersey Association were formed soon after ASAP. After the Koreans founded KAPA in 1990, the Australians became the "newest kid on the block" with their AAAI, which was organized [in 1995]. All this makes the Ken Roberts the most senior architectural drawing competition currently in operation anywhere in the world. - (article researched and written by Paul Stevenson Oles, FAIA)

Who was Ken Roberts?

Ken Roberts was a Louisiana native and an architect who worked for the firm Craycroft-Lacy & Partners during the late 1960's in Dallas. He then left to join forces with Dick Savage and later with Clutts & Parker to form Iconoplex, Inc in 1973. As his former boss Jack Craycroft recalls, Roberts was "a great designer and even better architect". In addition, Roberts produced numerous immaculate ink perspective drawings of small residential and commercial projects that testified to an impressive facility for architectural rendering by hand.

With the departure of his star employee, Craycroft felt a compelling need to show appreciation for skilled delineators. He thus came up with the idea of creating an annual delineation competition and exhibit during his tenure as president of AIA Dallas in 1973. The following year, AIA Dallas President Jim Clutts handed his colleague Ken Roberts the task of organizing the very first delineation event. Not long after the successful inaugural event, Roberts' chronic kidney problems suddenly ended his life at the age of 34. The AIA Dallas Executive Committee promptly renamed the annual delineation event after its first organizer, who was highly esteemed for the wide breadth of his abilities and admired for his enthusiasm and energy in the face of his declining health. - (article written by Julien Meyrat, AIA)