Why is Rice Design Alliance changing?

This evolution is a shift away from a fundraising-dependent, membership-based model—which it became over the course of 50 years—back to RDA’s original mission, which is focused on urban and design advocacy in Houston and beyond with more direct community engagement.

Whose decision was this, and why now?

With the pandemic, a complicated organizational structure, and larger changes in the world, we felt now was the appropriate moment to look to the future. This evaluation process began as early as 2014 and included current and past deans, executive directors, and RDA executive officers. We want to underscore that this decision is the result of much deliberation among this community including counsel from Rice University leadership. We came to the collective decision and understanding that a major reimagination of our community engagement efforts was needed. 



Which RDA programs will continue to run?

We will continue legacy programming including the annual Civic Forum, the Spotlight Award, and the Houston Design Research Grants. Other programming and activities will be considered and possibly reimagined. Rice Architecture Mentorship Program (RAMP) and the RDA Young Professionals will continue to provide networking opportunities and bridges to the architecture, engineering, and construction communities in Houston.


Will the home tours continue?

There are no plans to continue the home tours, which were deeply affected by the pandemic. After evaluating the RDA’s structure and membership model, we realized the home tour is no longer sustainable for continued programming. We hope to engage our community in other ways; for example, with site visits and educational architecture tours that will incorporate the work and aspirations of our students and faculty.


Will the annual galas continue?

With the lingering impact of the pandemic, the high, unsustainable costs of producing galas, and the discontinuation of fundraising independent from the school, this annual event will not continue. We hope to shift the fundraising focus to engage long-time corporate sponsors in new ways that are mutually significant. One of our goals is to continue supporting the AEC industry in Houston with impactful and program-specific partnerships. 


Are there any plans to restart the traveling tours?

We understand the value of these trips to many community members. While there are no plans to offer the traveling tours in the previous format, we are carefully considering how to reenvision them within our education efforts around the world and with a greater level of community access. We will be working with Rice University’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations to discuss how tours might be reimagined within our new framework.



Will RDA continue to raise money?

RDA discontinued all fundraising activities as of January 31, 2023, due to the unsustainable fiscal model that had evolved. Since RDA is a program within Rice Architecture, it will no longer pursue fundraising as a standalone entity. To provide clarity and effectiveness to our philanthropic and community engagement activities, all future fundraising will be overseen by Rice University’s Development and Alumni Relations department and the school. Rice University values and relies on the generosity of our supporters. To learn more about philanthropic opportunities, please visit our website.


What will happen to my membership?

Memberships received after the RDA 50th-anniversary event in October 2022 can be refunded. We no longer require membership for our public events. As a final membership benefit, all members for 2022–2023 will receive a copy of the 40th-anniversary issue of Cite 104. We’d love for all former members to stay informed and engaged by subscribing to our mailing list

If you would like to request a refund, email  directly by June 15, 2023.


What about corporate sponsorships, event tickets, and other funds raised?

All corporate sponsorship gifts were honored during the RDA 50th-anniversary event. If you are among those sponsors, please reference the sponsorship form to review any outstanding obligations. As in the past, any carryover funds will be transferred to the RDA endowment within the Rice University endowment for future public programs at the school, including RDA legacy programs. If you have any questions, please contact the Director of Finance and Administration for Rice Architecture, Lauren Kleinschmidt, at laurenk@rice.edu



How is RDA connected to the School of Architecture?

RDA is a program within the School of Architecture; it fosters active community engagement through design, architecture, and urban advocacy. Moving forward, some of RDA’s legacy programs will be offered within a larger portfolio of Rice Architecture’s public programs, all of which are open to the public and do not require paid membership.


Are you searching for a new executive director?

We will not hire an executive director. We will create a new role overseeing public programming and engagement, both in our public spaces at Rice Architecture and in the Houston community. Please check our employment page for more information as it becomes available.


How can I still be involved and network?

There is always something happening at Rice Architecture. Attending our robust programming, which is planned according to the academic calendar, is a great way to participate in the active design-oriented community. Make sure you are subscribed to our newsletter and check our events calendar. The calendar is updated by the beginning of each new semester. 


Will the website still be active?

The RDA has a rich legacy, and its archives will be preserved digitally and in print. Updates to the website will reflect the new RDA structure and legacy programming. Our social media profiles on Instagram and Facebook will remain active.


Are there plans to continue Cite Magazine?

Cite issue 104 is in progress and will be available in the fall of 2023. We are carefully considering the future of Cite magazine in the context of larger publication efforts within the school.


Who can I contact to voice my concerns or questions?

We understand you may have additional questions that have not been addressed here. We invite you to email them directly to Carla Haskins, Director of Inclusion and Strategic Initiatives, at carlah@rice.edu. We will update this FAQ as more questions are received.