Donor Profile: Lauren Rottet, FAIA, FIIDA

November 20, 2023
School of Architecture alumna and Founding Principal of Rottet Studio, Lauren Rottet, gives back to the place where it all began through an endowed Texas Challenge Scholarship. This article originally appeared in the 2023-2024 issue of Platform "Civics and Placemaking."
Lauren Rottet stands against a red background with pom-pom garlands draped over her body

When Lauren Rottet first enrolled at UT Austin, she originally planned to become a doctor. Because she also loved art, she pursued a dual degree combining pre-med and art coursework. However, fate intervened and she graduated with a bachelor of architecture in 1979 and parlayed that degree into an illustrious design career. The first woman in history to be elevated to Fellow status by both the American Institute of Architects and the International Interior Design Association, Rottet is the founding principal and president of Rottet Studio, creator of an award-winning furniture line, and known as one of the most influential interior architects working today.  

Reflecting on her time at the School of Architecture, Rottet fondly remembers late nights in the studio making models and drawing with a T-square and parallel bar, trying to play catch up after switching majors. “The time went so fast as once you finally came up with your “big idea,” you had to develop it, model and draw it, then articulate it to the studio and professor and hope they appreciated it. It was fun and challenging and I realized that architecture was the perfect combination of art, science and physiology.” The drawing part came easy; calculus and structures were another story. But in general the program was an exceptional education in problem-solving which has served me well.” Recently, Lauren decided to give back to the place where it all began by creating an endowed Texas Challenge scholarship to help future designers realize their passion for design and contribute to our built environment. 

Through the Texas Challenge program, gifts of $125,000 or more are matched dollar-for-dollar, doubling the impact a scholarship can make for high-potential School of Architecture students from low- to medium-income families in Texas. Through endowed scholarships like Rottet’s, the School of Architecture can empower and equip a new generation of designers with the skills they need to find their voice and change the world.   

“Many of our architects and designers have come into the field struggling to pay back college loans. The students work—and trying to hold a job while studying architecture is close to impossible—and when they get out, many still have debt. I wanted to help and when I heard about the Challenge program, I was motivated to participate as the match allowed a scholarship pool of $500,000. In particular, I wanted our funds to go to UT as I have been impressed with the Interior Design Program that is rigorous and produces graduates who can hit the ground running. I am an architect who embraces architecture, master planning, interior design, and really anything that has to do with design, so I wanted to encourage the UT School of Architecture and the students to continue to embrace this well-rounded study of design.”  

Rottet’s self-launched firm, Rottet Studio has become recognized as one of the finest design practices in the world. Rottet Studio has more than 70 million square feet of built design; an extensive portfolio of corporate, hospitality, residential, multi-family, and maritime projects for the world’s leading companies, brands, and Fortune 100 clients; and a suite of award-winning product designs through the furniture line, Rottet Collection.   

Rottet holds nearly every title and honor a designer can hold: Interior Design Hall of Fame, Designer of the Year, Boutique Designer of the Year, Platinum Circle Honoree. Throughout her career, Rottet has sought to innovate and continually grow her design practice. Today, her firm has offices in Houston, Los Angeles, and New York, and they have worked on projects in nearly every part of the world, including Antarctica. As an architect and designer, Rottet’s vision includes every dimension of a project, as she seeks to infuse spaces with light, energy, and detail elements that surprise and delight.  

In all that she does, Rottet believes that education is ongoing and that the gift of design talent must be nurtured, trained, and inspired: “A solid, well-rounded education is critical for practical thinking as you navigate the business world trying to make sure your ideas are heard and your creations are realized. The need for education and the energy it brings to your practice is never-ending. I am continually learning from other amazing architects and designers, contractors, trades, developers, hoteliers, restaurateurs, manufacturers, and owners. Mentoring my team and watching those who love to learn grow beyond their expectations while creating amazing projects is one of the most satisfying aspects of my career.” 

Lauren Rottet, Founding Principal Rottet Studio, B.Arch '79

To learn more about the Texas Challenge scholarship program, visit or contact Luke Dunlap, Executive Director for Development, at or 512.471.6114. 


Lauren Rottet stands at the front door of a white house with a brick patio and a white poodle in the foreground.
Lauren Rottet. Compliments of Rottet Studio.