Design a House, Build a Community

This is an Open, One-stage, Design-Build competition in which entrants are asked to deliver a functional, contemporary pollinator house to be auctioned off to support both GBN and BAF’s programs.


For the 25th anniversary of Garden Walk BuffaloGardens Buffalo Niagara and the Buffalo Architecture Foundation are coming together to organize and facilitate a design/build competition of Pollinator Houses. The spirit of the competition seeks to bring awareness to the wide array of pollinators in Western New York.  This competition aspires to generate awareness of pollinators of all types and challenge the notion of how these Pollinator Houses can or should look. The competition also encourages all to participate by becoming designers and advocates for these critical animal partners.

Pollinators have been increasingly threatened through the 20th and into the 21st century with the heavy use of pesticides, invasive species, disease and parasites, and loss of habitat. Specific issues such as colony collapse (bees), white nose syndrome (bats), climate change (all pollinators) have led to the severe population loss of many pollinators, across the region, country and world. Pollinators in Western New York include: native bees, butterflies, bats, birds, and other insects.

These animals are important because so much of our food and plants depend on these them in order to reproduce. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, up to 75 percent of the world’s food crops are dependent in some way on pollinators to reproduce.

Learn more about pollinators from Pollinator Conservation Association:

Learn more about pollinator friendly practices from the USDA:


With pollinator numbers in decline, having a pollinator house in the garden can help solitary-nesters by providing them a cozy home to live in and raise their young.  Pollinators need large areas of habit to flourish– the more that can be done to protect and conserve native habitats, the more space these tiny environmental champions will have to do their important work.  By providing habitat for pollinators to dwell, as well as planting a plethora of native flowering vegetation, providing a clean water and mud source, and limiting pesticide use, we can do a great deal to help out with the plight of pollinators.

The conclusion of the competition will result in an auction of all submissions to support both GBN and BAF’s programs.  Each entry should address the needs of its target animal while  simultaneously addressing the basic demands of an outdoor enclosure.  A commercially available, pre-fabricated pollinator house that has been artistically decorated with high quality illustrations is desirable, but entrants are challenged and encouraged to submit, creative and innovative designs that provide a form defying convention.


Basic Expectations:

  • Reasonably shelter the selected pollinator
  • Provide adequate space for the selected pollinator to occupy the house
  • Provide creative and visually pleasing entry
  • Reasonable installation requirements are accounted for
  • Accommodate a combined GBN and BAF logo (available for download)

Heighten Expectations:

  • Unique fabrication methods and/or material choices
  • Distinctive architectural style or design
  • Use of recycled and/or sustainable materials
  • Inspire design appreciation and pollinator awareness


A Pollinator House, serving a pollinator identified by the entrant and a brief design narrative (250 words or less). For logistical purposes, the house in its “moveable” form cannot be larger than 12” x 12” x 12”.

Entrants will be responsible for all design, fabrication and delivery of each entry.  Multiple entries are encouraged; however, separate entry forms must be submitted for each entry.


Free and Open to all!

Climate conscious architects, designers, gardeners, sculptors, carpenters, students, etc. are encouraged to participate, however all entrants must possess a competent level of construction quality to ensure the successful execution of the Pollinator House.

Entrants are not required to be residents of New York State nor the United States, however, because this is a design-build competition, it is expected that entrants be capable of delivering (personally or by package post) the finished product to the drop off site at their own cost.

Entry Process

Final and constructed Pollinator House entries will be accepted starting at the release of this brief, through May 15, 2019. A final drop-off location in Buffalo, New York will be announced in a subsequent press releases, closer to the final delivery acceptance date. Any submissions desired to be delivered prior to announce of a final location can contact to coordinate a drop off. No entry fee is required.

Selection Criteria

Entrants are encouraged to take wide latitude in determining the form, function and style of their design(s). To ensure dedication to the BAF and GBN’s competition intent, all designs will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Overall design execution
  • Originality
  • Suitability for pollinator
  • Sustainability


A jury of esteemed representatives from Western New York architectural and gardening community will comprise will be reviewing all submissions for design quality, ingenuity, creativity, sustainability, and execution.  Awards recognizing minimally the following categories will be given:

  • Best overall entry
  • Most likely to attract a pollinator
  • Best student entry (K-12)

Possibility of Replication

Although not certain or guaranteed, it is desired to select one or more designs for replication to commemorate Garden Walk Buffalo’s 25th anniversary. The Competition Committee will contact entrants for possible fabrication refinements if the design is selected.


  • Announce of competition: December 1, 2018
  • Submissions accepted: February 1 through May 15, 2019
  • Final questions received: May 1, 2019
  • Display of entries: June 15 – ____
  • Plantasia?
  • Garden Art Sale?
  • 6 Minute Building Stories?
  • Buffalo Architecture Center?
  • Garden Walk Headquarters
  • Buffalo Architecture Center
  • Final Auction – August ___?

Rules and Regulations

All entrants must abide by the following:

  1. Entrants give Buffalo Architecture Foundation (BAF) and Gardens Buffalo Niagara (GBN) permission to reproduce their submission without restriction.
  2. No royalties shall be payable by BAF or GBN or any other sponsors for use of the submission entry materials.
  3. Entrants verify that all information provided in the Entry Form is true and their submission is subject to disqualification if it is found that any information has been falsified.
  4. Entrants affirm that they are sole owner of the materials identified in the Pollinator House Competition entry, that each submitted entry is an original work, and that neither these materials nor the permission granted hereby infringes upon the ownership, copyright, trademark, or rights of others.
  5. All deliverables become property of Buffalo Architecture Foundation and Gardens Buffalo Niagara.
  6. Entries shall not have been previously published in any competition publication, whether printed, online, or otherwise.
  7. Entries shall not have been selected as a finalist, winner, honorable mention, etc. in any other competition.
  8. If the design is submitted from a team of people, all team members must be identified on the entry form with a clearly identified team leader.
  9. Entrants are not allowed to discuss details of their competition designs and/or entries with any of the judges directly whatsoever. Any attempt to do so will result in immediate disqualification.
  10. Any deviation from competition rules may result in automatic disqualification at the discretion of the jury.


  • Will BAF or GBN pick up my submission?

It is expected of the entrant to deliver their own submission. Only in extreme circumstances will this be considered, with prior approval of the Competition Committee. Inquiries can be sent to

Check back to for more FAQs as the competition progresses.