February 2, 2021


Applications are now open for the Rice Design Alliance Houston Design Research Grant. The grant is open nationally to university students and faculty looking to work on research projects that focus on the spatial implications of urban food distribution and consumption systems in Houston and its region, including the existence of food deserts and lack of accessibility to quality food. The submission deadline is April 15.

The goal of the grant is to promote research on Houston-specific urban conditions that need urgent attention and that can make a significant contribution to the Houston community through quality design thinking.

Proposals should analyze and research design-oriented alternatives to current urban food networks in order to significantly diminish the growing inequity between Houston’s communities based on appropriate access to healthy and sustainable food.

Researchers are encouraged to present projects that utilize design thinking as a problem-solving tool and that incorporate or reference existing local urban farming, food distribution, or agricultural entrepreneurship initiatives that are already improving the quality of food accessibility to all Houstonians. Neighborhood-specific urban research that identifies existing challenges and increases the availability of quality food to otherwise underserved populations will also be positively valued. 

The Houston Design Research Grant will provide seed funds in the amount of $6,000 for research to a proposal of quality that demonstrates potential to catalyze a Houston-based design project. In addition to funding aid, the winning proposal from each category (Student and Faculty) will be published in Cite magazine, and the winners will present their projects at a lunchtime lecture at Rice Architecture.

Submitted applications will be reviewed by a jury of five to seven members comprised of a diverse mix of individuals representing the Houston community, academia, city governance, and local and international experts and practitioners in the fields connected to the grant’s theme, architecture, design, engineering, and urbanism.

Grantees from each of the two categories will be announced at the end of April, during the annual Rice Architecture Awards Ceremony.

The Houston Design Research Grant is made possible thanks to a generous gift from The Mitsui U.S.A. Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Mitsui & Co. (U.S.A.), Inc. (“Mitsui USA”).

Established in 1987, The Mitsui U.S.A. Foundation currently supports more than 50 initiatives across the US in the areas of Education, Community Welfare, Arts and Culture, and Employee Matching and Volunteerism.

For more information and to access the grant application form, click here.

About RDA

Rice Design Alliance is the public programs and outreach arm of Rice Architecture. We curate public programs, architecture tours, design competitions and publications that communicate the importance of design in our everyday lives and its ability to make our lives better. We are

based at and work from the Rice Architecture school as an advocacy group that believes that multidisciplinary and research-based design can improve our cities and the way we live in them. 
RDA was established within Rice Architecture in 1972 by the school's first dean, David Crane, together with alumni and other civic-minded community members who believed that quality design thinking should be available to all in our community and that Houston’s citizens – experts and non-experts alike – should feel empowered to act and transform our city through design.