June 11, 2020

Dear Friends,

We approach the summer and the end of our programmatic year in an unprecedented climate of unrest, collective mourning, and converging crises in our country and across the world. Like all of you, we at the Rice Design Alliance are horrified by the murder of Houstonian George Floyd, the fates of far too many Black Americans who preceded him, and those whose experiences we will never know. Recent events have enraged and shocked our community to its core. They remind us, yet again, of the violent, racist legacy within our country’s history.

RDA stands in active solidarity, fury, sadness, and hope, alongside the families and communities, near and far, affected by the traumatic events of recent weeks. We support those in our local community and worldwide who are transforming feelings of outrage into real activism by working tirelessly towards actionable change through demonstrating, compiling resources, sharing knowledge, listening, donating, writing, or educating themselves and their children.

As an organization, RDA has long celebrated the power of multiple voices within the design professions to influence the ways in which our cities can be more equitable. We are committed to meaningfully expand those efforts through robust educational strategies of inclusion that can help us learn and unlearn the behaviors that got us here. 

We acknowledge that Black Americans and minority communities suffer disproportionately more from some of the issues at the forefront of our programs. Many of the design topics that we address in our lectures, civic forums, and publications—access to affordable housing, transportation, and green spaces; climate change; or ways in which public and private spaces are designed and operated, to name just a few—remind us that the design professions have been and are implicated in the systemic racism that is present in the spatial and social practices that organize our lives. 

RDA is committed to better leveraging its educational platform in Houston towards the dismantling and rebuilding of these systems. We intend to bring these concerns to the forefront of our programs and to more successfully empower those already leading these discussions.

Moving forward, we, together with Rice Architecture, recommit to taking specific actions to ensure our programs, publications, and events are part of the solution to reverse racial injustice in the design fields in tangible, enduring ways.

To continue our learning, we’ll update you on our different programs and initiatives in the coming year. This month, more grounded than ever in the restorative and political power of knowledge, we share a few updates, news items, and links that we hope will add to your list of resources. Today and every day we continue our work, with renewed optimism and resolve, to advocate for a more fair, equitable, and just built environment.
Steve Mechler, President, RDA Board of Directors

Doug Childers, President-Elect, RDA Board of Directors
Maria Nicanor, Executive Director, RDA

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.