The SOM Fellowship was established in 1981 just as a wave of new popularity was starting to surface in schools of architecture. The SOM awards were closely modeled after existing traveling fellowships, but to make them conspicuous they carried larger stipends than most. The awards in the first year, for example, offered stipends of $10,000, $7,000, and $5,000 for first-, second-, and third-place prizes, respectively. Reasoning that students in foreign universities had more means of travel support available to them, the SOM Foundation earmarked its funding for students in American schools of architecture. Another distinguishing feature of the fellowships was the jury, which included not just members of the SOM firm but also prominent outside architects and individuals from business, academia, and other institutions. The jurors enjoyed a considerable amount of flexibility, including the right to reapportion the grants, splitting one award between two students, for example.
The SOM Foundation currently grants the following awards:
The following awards have been presented over the years since the Foundation's inception: