Inspiring Excellence: Best in American Living Awards (BALA)

With an enduring legacy dating back 40 years, the Best in American Living Awards (BALA) remains a landmark occasion within the building industry's calendar. As the premier residential design awards program, BALA promotes and rewards those who set the bar for design excellence across North America. Building industry professionals - architects, builders, designers - converge annually for the BALA, wherein their innovation and talent is recognized and celebrated.

Beyond the rapturous applause and the gloss of the awards, the BALA's real value lies in showcasing the best practices and trends that delineate future paths for others to follow. Winning projects aren't just recognized but studied, with their design principles influencing home buyers' expectations and desires. As we delve deeper into the BALA's facets, we hope to unravel how this prestigious awards program lights the way forward for the residential design sector.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the BALA

The BALA was forged under the auspices of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), an organization deeply committed to enriching the lives of communities and their members through intelligent design and quality construction. The alliance between the NAHB and BALA embodies a commitment to championing design professionals' creativity and expertise, inspiring industry-wide innovation. This joint venture spotlights the transformational work of these professionals, whose designs redefine American living and drive progressive development within communities across the nation.

Categories and Criteria

In recognition of the diverse facets of residential design, the BALA awards span multiple categories. These encompass a wide array of projects that constitute the sectors of the residential housing industry - from single-family homes and multifamily to remodeling and community design. Each application undergoes rigorous scrutiny under stringent judging criteria, ensuring every winner truly exemplifies excellence.

Types of Awards

The breadth of the BALA's award categories reflects the diversity in our living spaces:

  • Single-Family Homes: An ode to standalone dwellings, unique in style and execution.
  • Multifamily Housing: Celebrating the design ingenuity of shared residential buildings.
  • Remodeling Projects: Acknowledging the creativity and complexity in giving a space a fresh lease of life.
  • Community Design: Recognizing designs that create a sense of connectivity and belonging.
  • Special Function Spaces or Room Design: Showcasing the allure of particular areas within a larger living space.

For a closer look at some award-winning designs, including the Luxer One systems incorporated into properties like LC Germantown, Chronicle Mill, and Whistler, check out this article. Explore the innovative features and stunning designs that set these properties apart.

Judging Criteria

Selecting BALA winners is not a simple task. The judges have a robust set of criteria by which each entry is evaluated:

Design Concept

Quality of Construction and Design

Integration with the surroundings

Market appropriateness

Unique design solutions


Every category grapples with similar criteria, thus ensuring a level playing field for all entrants, irrespective of the size or nature of the project.

History of BALA

With a rich, 40-year history, the BALA enjoys a reputation for igniting industry evolution and fostering design innovation. Over the years, the BALA's role in spotlighting and celebrating advancements in design has cemented its standing as a key driver of changing trends in residential design. The ongoing journey of BALA illuminates the path depended upon by design professionals.

Past Winners and Significant Projects

The BALA archives house several incredibly inspiring past winners:

  • A modern infill community in the Pacific region that catalyzed development within South Hayward.
  • An ambitious adaptive reuse project, transforming a former school into coveted residential spaces.
  • A world-class remodeling project that exemplifies superior craftsmanship and design.
  • A sustainable multifamily housing project that embodies luxury through thoughtful design and amenities.

Each of these projects has left their indelible mark on American living.

Celebrating Excellence with BALA Award Ceremony

Beyond the recognition of excellence, the annual BALA Award Ceremony is a celebration of creativity, innovation, and passion. The ceremony, held during the International Builders' Show, provides an opportunity for industry professionals to gather, network, and revel in their collective achievements. It's here that platinum winners are announced, along with the latest inductees into the Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame Inductees

The BALA Hall of Fame stands as a testament to those who have significantly contributed to American Living. Some of the distinguished inductees include:

  • Pioneering architects who have shaped the landscape of residential design.
  • Forward-thinking home builders whose projects have set new industry benchmarks.
  • Multifamily housing designers driving innovation in shared living spaces.
  • Visionary remodeling contractors transforming old spaces into modern marvels.

The induction into the BALA Hall of Fame affirms their remarkable impact on the industry.

Event Highlights and Photos

The BALA Awards Ceremony serves as an opulent canvas for capturing moments of celebration and triumph. The event brilliantly reflects the charm and grandeur symbolic of the prestige associated with BALA. Moments captured through photographs bear witness to the joy and pride seen in award winners. Visually stunning displays of winning designs, along with the inherent camaraderie among industry professionals, portrays the real essence of this vibrant event, making it a truly memorable experience for all attendees.

BALA's Impact on the Industry

By distinguishing building industry professionals committed to design excellence, BALA stimulates the development of innovative ideas, promotes quality, and fosters sustainability. It brings under focus the work that can inspire and influence the future of American living. Simultaneously, the BALA enhances the industry's caliber, setting high standards that others strive to meet or exceed.

Generating Innovative Ideas

The BALA acts as a conduit for creative exchange, with winning designs often serving as blueprints for future innovation within the industry. By recognizing and showcasing the best of the best, BALA provides a platform for design professionals to go beyond the tried-and-trusted, pushing them to envision exciting concepts and adapt to changing market trends.

Promoting Quality and Sustainability

Through its long tenure, the BALA has persistently advocated for superior design quality and sustainable practices in residential building. The recognition of projects that amalgamate aesthetic appeal with ecological responsibility encourages others to consider sustainability in their own work. This commitment to quality and ecological balance aligns with the requirements of the modern-day home buyer, contributing to the transformation of North American living spaces.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can participate in the competition?

The BALA welcomes entries from all corners of the residential housing industry. Architects, builders, designers, and even contractors undertaking exciting remodeling projects can submit their works. Furthermore, adaptive reuse projects or those highlighting unique design solutions are also encouraged to participate.


Steering the ship of residential design through four decades, the Best in American Living Awards (BALA) inspires industry professionals to continually strive for excellence and innovation. The BALA is more than just an award ceremony; it acts as a touchpoint, offering invaluable insights into market trends and shaping the future course of design within the residential housing industry.

Through its celebration of design pioneers, unique projects, industry best practices, and seminal ideas, BALA nurtures an ecosystem of inspiration, exploration, and relentless improvement. Importantly, the BALA's focus on promoting quality and sustainability echoes the increasing global consciousness about climate change, urging industry professionals to adapt and elevate their design ethos aligned to eco-friendly principles.

As BALA honors and promotes the importance of good home and community design, one cannot help but be enthused about the power of design in shaping the world we live in. Let's eagerly await next year’s BALA Awards, anticipating the next wave of refreshing designs and innovative concepts that will push the envelope further for American Living.

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