The Spotlight Award was founded in 2009 under the leadership of Lonnie Hoogeboom with John J. Casbarian, Carlos Jiménez, and Rafael Longoria.
Every year, the Spotlight Award committee, formed by architects, academics, and design practitioners, convenes to consider local, national, and international architects within the first 15 years of their professional practice who have demonstrated design excellence and curiosity through their body of work. The Spotlight Award is by invitation only.
The award, which carries a monetary prize, also invites the selected architect/s to give the annual Spotlight Lecture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Over the years, the Spotlight Award has built a reputation for identifying quality and thoughtfulness in design and has been the first to identify the work of architects who have gone on to receive major international recognition.
Starting in 2019, and in order to further diversify its voices and awardees, the Spotlight Award committee started inviting faculty members from Rice Architecture and the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design to join its nomination process.
The 2020 Spotlight nomination and jury process was joined by Amelyn Ng, Rice Architecture Wortham Fellow, and Michael Kubo, Assistant Professor of Architectural History, Theory, and Criticism at the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design at the University of Houston. The 2021 Spotlight nomination and jury process was joined by Brittany Utting, Assistant Professor at Rice Architecture, and Rafael Beneytez-Durán, Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design at the University of Houston. The 2022 Spotlight nomination and jury process was joined by Igor Marjanović, Rice Architecture William Ward Watkin Dean; Maggie Tsang, Rice Architecture Wortham Fellow; and Deepa Ramaswamy, Assistant Professor, History and Theory of Architecture and Urbanism, University of Houston.
Past Spotlight Award recipients include Antón García-Abril, Ensamble Studio (2009); Sou Foujimoto (2010); Grace La and James Dallman, LA DALLMAN (2011); Pezo von Ellrichshausen (2012); Georgeen Theodore, Interboro Partners (2013); 5468796 (2014); Tarik Oualalou and Linna Choi, Oualalou+ Choi (2015); Cadaval & Solá-Morales (2016); and Anssi Lassila, OOPEAA (2017); DUST (2019); Fala Atelier (2020); and AD–WO (2021).