Each month, AAO will highlight a member organization in order to share their programs, ideas, and the great work that AAO members do every day. This month, we feature the Rice Design Alliance in Houston, TX.
The Rice Design Alliance was the first Founding Member of AAO, and we thought it was only fitting to feature them first. When Linda Sylvan, Executive Director of the Rice Design Alliance and Inaugural Board Member of AAO was asked about why she became a member of AAO, she said "I enjoy being with like-minded people who share the same challenges and passion about the built environment as I do. I now have colleagues from all over the U.S. and abroad from whom I can learn and share best practices." Well put Linda! Won't you consider becoming an organizational member of AAO, and connect, learn, and share with people like Linda all over the world?
The Rice Design Alliance
The Rice Design Alliance is dedicated to advancing architecture, urban design, and the built environment in the Houston region through educational programs, the publication of Cite, and programs to initiate physical improvements. We seek to enhance the quality of life within our community.
In 1972 the Rice Design Alliance (RDA) was organized by a small group of academicians and civic-minded community members under the leadership of David A. Crane, then dean of the Rice School of Architecture. Since its founding 37 years ago, RDA has grown to more than 2,400 members and has emerged as the preeminent public forum in Houston for critique, programming, and discussion of design and the built environment.
RDA has brought to Houston leading designers, critics, theorists, and planners through its educational programs and quarterly publication, Cite: The Architecture + Design Review of Houston, which has been published continuously since 1982.
RDA’s program offerings continue to evolve and grow. The annual fall and spring lecture series, residential architecture tours, and presentations by architects has increased to include two or three forums on topics of civic importance, city architecture study tours, a lecture by the recipient of Spotlight: The RDA Prize; and the Sally Walsh Lecture with the Architecture Center Houston Foundation. RDA also publishes four issues of Cite a year, organizes charettes to tackle urban issues, offers a grant program, and sponsors design competitions. RDA has organized four national competitions, two of which have resulted in significant civic improvements for downtown Houston (Sesquicentennial Park, 1985) and Hermann Park (Heart of the Park, 1992).
In 2008, RDA, AIA Houston, and the Architecture Center Houston Foundation sponsored the 99K House Competition for an affordable, sustainable house that attracted 182 entries from 29 states and 16 countries. The winning design has been built on a donated lot in Houston’s Fifth Ward, a working-class neighborhood, and will serve as a prototype for affordable house design. An RDA charette in the same year called for a bridge to unite segments of Memorial Park and resulted in a design for a Living Bridge that the Memorial Park Conservancy has completed.
RDA members are from diverse backgrounds, including architects and designers, city planners and developers, real estate agents, community activists, artists, and civic-minded individuals. The common thread is a commitment to enhancing the quality of life within the community through learning, discussion, and innovation. Though Rice University is the physical home of the organization, the alliance includes scholars from the University of Houston and other institutions. Support for RDA comes from individuals, corporate sponsorship, and foundations, including the Houston Arts Alliance and the National Endowment for the Arts.