Established in 1985, the Fairfax County Exceptional Design Awards recognize achievement in the total design of a building and its site. The awards aim to raise awareness of outstanding planning and design projects among design professionals and the general public. The design awards program is sponsored by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and administered by the County's Department of Planning and Zoning in cooperation with the County Architectural Review Board and the Northern Virginia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
On May 16, 2017, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors authorized the renaming of the Fairfax County Exceptional Design Awards Program to the James M. Scott Exceptional Design Awards, in honor of the late Providence District Supervisor who held office from January 5, 1972 until December 14, 1987. It was his vision and leadership that led to the establishment of the Exception Design Awards Program, which is now in its third decade. Supervisor James M. Scott passed away on April 13, 2017.