The Chicago Chapter of The Architecture Lobby announces its third annual design competition, Kerning for a Cause 2018.

In its current form, the federal labor laws poster is flawlessly undesigned to remain camouflaged in an office environment. Though posters informing all workers of their rights under both state and federal laws are required to be displayed in a location where employees can easily see and read them, this is often not the case. These posters’ large size and inflexible format limits where in the work space they can actually be displayed, and their bland and cluttered appearance often compels employers to keep them out of sight. Even when the posters are in an accessible location, their small text and poor design can make them difficult to be read and understood by the workers they are intended to inform.


As designers, this is an issue we can address. A little bit of good design can go a long way in helping employers to comply with existing mandates while increasing awareness of the laws and regulation that exist to protect laborers from exploitation.

As a means of bringing attention to labor laws, the Architecture Lobby Chicago Chapter is hosting a competition open to all architects, designers, and those who self-identify as laborers, to redesign the Federal Labor Laws poster that is legally mandated to hang in any business with employees. Entries should incorporate openness and transparency into their designs, to better convey the importance of upholding federal labor laws in a formal workplace setting. This is an open call to submit proposals for an improved design intended to inform workers of their rights under federal law. Through this competition we’ll begin to build a library of posters that cover labor legislation at the Federal level, free for anyone to print and display in their own office. Entries selected as finalists by jury members of the Architecture Lobby may be printed and displayed at a gallery exhibition.



Though the focus of this contest is to call attention to labor rights issues that affect architects and designers, this contest is open to anyone in the workforce. Registration will open on Labor Day, September 3, 2018. You may register individually or as team, but the number of entries must be limited to one entry per person or one per team. Please note that The Architecture Lobby will accept only 20 thoughtfully designed entries to this competition.

Fonts & Legibility

// Use of color is permitted, but the content should still be legible if printed in grayscale

// Minimum font size of 8 points for legibility

// OS standard fonts, or fonts within Creative Commons, or Fair Use license

Official Seals

Must include relevant seals for agencies having jurisdiction. Seals for federal agencies will be available here.

File Submission

Please include your name, industry in which you work, and city and state, so your work can be properly credited! For finalists, this information will be displayed with your entry at the gallery show.


Entries will be evaluated based on the following criteria, but do not necessarily need to meet all of them:

// Overall legibility

// Accessibility, or “openness”: Ideally, these posters could be printed by employers (or employees), and would not require purchasing the poster or use of professional or large-format printers. This could mean tiling smaller formats, such as 8.5 X 11 or 11 X17, using non-standard printing methods, etc. Formats other than posters or print media will be accepted. All accepted submissions will be judged together (no additional categories or prizes for other formats).

// Aesthetic character


Deadline for registration is Friday, September 28, 2018. Entries should be emailed to [email protected] by the end of the day (PDT) on Sunday, September 30, 2018.


The first 20 thoughtfully designed entries will receive a physical copy of Asymmetric Labors: The Economy of Architecture in Theory and Practice, as well as $5. On principle The Architecture Lobby does not support unpaid competitions, and hopes to extend a small allotment for compensation of entrants’ work. As a grassroots organization, it is difficult to provide a large stipend, so please consider this a small gesture of The Architecture Lobby’s beliefs. The number of entries received will not be published during the competition, so please consider entering early! One entry will be selected as the overall winner, and its creator will receive a prize package of $100 and a selection of books from Architecture Lobby authors. 


The Architecture Lobby, Inc. is an organization of architectural workers advocating for the value of architecture in the general public and for architectural work within the discipline. It believes that the work architects do – aesthetic, technical, social, organizational, environmental, administrative, fiduciary – needs structural change to be more rewarding and more socially relevant. As long as architecture tolerates abusive practices in the office and the construction site, it cannot insist on its role in and for the public good.

The Architecture Initiative, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization dedicated to supporting the educational activities of the Lobby. Through public forums and other educational projects, the Initiative educates architectural students and the general public about the value of architecture and design in our communities, as well as workers’ rights within the field of architecture.

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