November 14, 2019
2019 Gala
From L. to R.: Rice Architecture Interim Dean John J. Casbarian, Gala Chairs Steven Hecht and Deborah Brochstein, Carolyn and Howard Tellepsen, RDA Executive Director Maria Nicanor, and Ping Sun with husband David Leebron, president of Rice University.

Over 650 design enthusiasts, leaders in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industry, and representatives from cultural organizations in town gathered Saturday, Nov. 9, at Silver Street Studios for the Rice Design Alliance 2019 Gala, chaired by Deborah Brochstein and Steven Hecht, and honoring the Tellepsen Family for the lasting and profound contributions they have made to Houston’s built environment.

The annual gala and silent auction raised over $655,000—breaking all previous fundraising records for RDA—which will be used to provide essential support for RDA’s programming and publications that bring awareness to the importance of design in everyday life.

“It was important for us this year to honor the contributions not only of one single individual, but of the importance that committed, immigrant families and multi-generational businesses have had in this city. In that sense, honoring the Tellepsens as a family and having the Brochsteins chair this year’s event was particularly meaningful. Their support makes a truly huge difference in our ability to deliver programs that look critically at the way our cities function,” said RDA Executive Director Maria Nicanor.

Rice University President David Leebron presented the RDA 2019 Award for Design Excellence to Howard Tellepsen, who accepted the award on behalf of the family—five generations who have made an indelible mark on the urban fabric of Houston.

For over 100 years, the Tellepsen’s commitment to the construction industry and service to others has helped to shape the natural and built environment of Houston. Their imprint is visible across the city, profoundly shaping the spaces where Houstonians live, work, play, learn, heal, and worship.

Each generation has made history with the family business being recognized as one of the most successful construction companies in Houston, contributing to the region’s economic growth and the local workforce. The Tellepsen family continues to serve as an exemplar of how leaders in the architecture, engineering, and construction community can improve the built environment through the collective effort of many for the betterment of all citizens. Their multi-generational impact is evident through some of Houston’s iconic landmarks over the years, such as the Miller Outdoor Theater, Centennial Gardens at Hermann Park, Port of Houston, the Shamrock Hotel, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, Texas Children’s Hospitals, Rice University, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, and many others.

The gala evening included a three-course meal by City Kitchen, a design-focused auction, chaired by Ellyn Wulfe and Juliè Gauthier, and music by DJ Chaney. Among the guests were Chairman of Rice University’s Board of Trustees and member of Rice Architecture’s William Ward Watkin Council Bobby Tudor and his wife Phoebe; Consul General of Norway Hilde Janne Skorpen—honoring the Tellepsen’s Norwegian origins; Rice Architecture Interim Dean John J. Casbarian; Susan and Raymond Brochstein; Judy and Scott Nyquist; Ellyn Wulfe; and Steve and Laurie Mechler.

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.