December 5, 2023
Top row, from left to right: Mide Akinsade, Georgina Baronian, and William Batson, Lonnie Hoogeboom. Bottom row, from left to right: Deepa Ramaswamy, Troy SchaumMaggie Tsang and Richard A. Vella


The Rice University School of Architecture is pleased to announce the jury members for the 2023 Houston Design Research Grant (HDRG) and the 2024 Spotlight Award. Both awards are legacy grant programs of Rice Architecture’s community engagement program, Rice Design Alliance (RDA), which in 2022 celebrated fifty years of architectural design and advocacy in Houston.


The jury includes the following members of the Houston design community: Mide AkinsadePerkins&WillGeorgina Baronian, Rice Architecture and clovisbaronianWilliam Batson, Prairie View A&M University; Lonnie Hoogeboom, B.Arch. ’94 and M.Arch. ’96, Rice Architecture William Ward Watkin Council; Deepa Ramaswamy, University of Houston; Troy Schaum, Rice Architecture and Schaum/ShiehMaggie Tsang, Rice Architecture and Dept.; and Richard A. Vella, City of Houston. The work of the jury will be supported by Tara Oluwafemi, public programs and engagement specialist at Rice Architecture.

The Houston Design Research Grant is open to students and faculty of US colleges and universities. Winners of both the faculty category and the student category will receive $6,000 to fund research related to the Houston urban environment. Since 1999, Rice Architecture and RDA have awarded over $150,000 in grant funding, including through the HDRG, which was launched in 2019 with the generous support of the Mitsui U.S.A. Foundation. The deadline to apply has been extended to December 1, 2023. Click here to learn more about HDRG and to apply.

The invitation-only Spotlight Award was founded in 2009 under the leadership of Lonnie Hoogeboom with John J. Casbarian, B.A. ’69, B.Arch. ’72, Carlos Jiménez, and Rafael Longoria, B.A. ’82, B.Arch. ’84. Every year, the jury committee, formed by architects, academics, and design practitioners, convenes to consider local, national, and international architects within the first fifteen years of their professional practice who have demonstrated design excellence and curiosity through their body of work. For a complete list of former Spotlight Award winners and to view their lectures, visit the winner’s page here.

“I am grateful to my colleagues and fellow jury members from the Houston community for their service on this committee,” said Igor Marjanović, the William Ward Watkin Dean of Rice Architecture. “These awards are important programs that shed light on innovative forms of design research—both locally and globally—empowering new modes of practice that span academia and the profession.”

The winners of the 2023 HDRG grant and the 2024 Spotlight Award will be announced in December 2023. The lecture for the Spotlight Award will be included in Rice Architecture’s spring 2024 public program, and the HDRG winners will present their research in fall 2024. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive announcements of our free public programs and events.

More About the Jury Members

Mide Akinsade is the design director at the Houston office of Perkins&Will. With more than twenty-seven years of design leadership experience and success, he has worked on numerous projects, many of which have garnered national and international design awards for excellence.

Georgina Baronian is an assistant professor at Rice Architecture and cofounder of the architectural practice clovisbaronian. Prior to establishing an independent practice, Baronian worked in Tokyo for the offices of SANAA and Junya Ishigami.

William Batson is a professor at Prairie View A&M University, where he also directs the Community Urban and Rural Enhancement Services Center. His research interests include architectural design, sustainability innovations, and historical preservation documentation.

Lonnie Hoogeboom, B.Arch. ’94 and M.Arch. ’96, helped cofound the Spotlight Award in 2009. He is also on Rice Architecture’s William Ward Watkin Council.

Deepa Ramaswamy is an assistant professor at the University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design. She is an architect and urban historian whose research examines land, legal, and environmental histories in postwar United States and India.

Troy Schaum is an associate professor at Rice Architecture and cofounder of the architectural practice Schaum/Shieh, based in Houston and New York City. His design and research focus on new possibilities for form, representation, and politics in the postmegalopolitan city.

Maggie Tsang is an assistant professor at Rice Architecture and cofounder and managing partner of Dept., a landscape architecture and urban design studio in Houston. Her research focuses on the intersection between landscape, urbanism, and infrastructure.

Richard A. Vella is assistant director of the City of Houston General Services Department. He is an architect by training and has managed numerous design and construction projects for the City of Houston.

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”). The Spotlight Award is made possible by the RDA Endowed Fund.