Gena Ellis

Eugenia Victoria Ellis

Professor Emerita
Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Eugenia Victoria Ellis

Professor Emerita
Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


A practicing architect who designs energy-conscious buildings shaped by the natural world, Professor Ellis investigates engineering solutions for the built environment at the intersection of light and health. Driven by the prospect of climate change, she researches strategies for the urban environment by considering the city as a responsive urban ecosystem where buildings and infrastructure interact with nature to promote the wellbeing of its citizens. Dr. Ellis’ research considers the city as a complex network of interrelated systems that rely on each other to maintain system balance. Her research team has partnered with the Politecnico di Milano to use the comparable cities of Philadelphia and Milan as a testbed to develop prototypical strategies other cities around the globe can use to reduce their carbon footprint and increase human health and wellbeing. Dr. Ellis previously taught at Temple University in 1991 and the University of Idaho 1992-1995. She joined the Drexel faculty in 2000 after twenty years in private practice designing civic and municipal projects, laboratories for high-tech industry, and healthcare/skilled nursing facilities. Her work has been exhibited at numerous galleries and her built projects have been recognized for design by the American Institute of Architects. A principal at BAU Architecture, she designs novel technological buildings that perform like machines to sync the indoor environment with outdoor environmental conditions and reduce energy use. Dr. Ellis has directed Drexel’s dLUX light lab since 2012 where students, faculty, and partners from a variety of disciplines investigate light in the built environment and its effect on life and energy use.

Degrees / Education

  • PhD, Environmental Design and Planning, Virginia Polytechnic and State University, 2005
  • MS, Architectural Theory, University of Pennsylvania, 1992
  • BArch, Building Technology, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1980

Research Areas

Research Interests

Responsive urban environments at the intersection of infrastructure and ecology, (eco)logical strategies for smart, sustainable buildings at the nexus of health, energy, & technology, visual and non-visual effects of light, spatial visualization and three-dimensional imagining, and visual perception and altered states of perception such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia

Areas of Study

Academic Distinctions

  • Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) annual book award for Health and Well-being for Interior Architecture, 2017
  • Preservation Achievement Grand Jury Award from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia for Norristown Farm State Park renovation and restoration of seven of ten historic buildings, 2011
  • Leab Book Award administered by the American Library Association/Association of College & Research Libraries Rare Books and Manuscripts Section for Claude Bragdon and the Beautiful Necessity, 2011
  • Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture AIAS / ACSA New Faculty Teaching Award, 1995.

Select Publications

  • Nature Relatedness Is Positively Associated With Dietary Diversity and Fruit and Vegetable Intake in a Urban Population, American Journal of Health Promotion, 2022. Co-authors: Milliron BJ, Ward D, Granche J, Mensinger J, Stott D, Chenault C, Montalto F, Ellis EV.
  • The Farmworks: Building as a Machine for Growing Food, in Proceedings of the AIA/ ACSA Intersections Research Conference: CARBON. (Washington: ACSA Press, 2020).
  • The Play of Architecture (re)Production, Out of Service Dichotomy Student Journal of the University of Detroit Mercy, Volume 24 (2019): 150-171.
  • Nature relatedness is associated with higher dietary diversity and fruit and vegetable intake. International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Annual Meeting, June 2019. Co-authors: Milliron BJ, Mensinger J, Granche J, Ward D, Chenault MC, Montalto F, Ellis EV.
  • Transforming Structure: the metaphorical construction process and structural design in Structures and Architecture: Bridging the Gap and Crossing Borders, Paulo J.S. Cruz, ed. (London: Taylor & Francis, 2019). Authors: E.V. Ellis and D.A. Kratzer.
  • The Tangible Eye in Environmental Psychology for Design, 3rd edition, Dak Kopec, ed. (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), 91-92.
  • The Human Eye: A Window to Health and Wellbeing in Proceedings of the 105nd Annual Meeting of the ACSA. (Washington: ACSA Press, 2017).
  • Health and Wellness in Today’s Technological Society with Donald L. McEachron in Health and Well-being for Interior Architecture, Dak Kopec, ed. (London: Routledge, 2017), 94-107.
  • Bartram’s Bringing Boating Back: Reviving Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River in Proceedings of the 2016 ARCC/EAAE International Conference on Architectural Research (London: Taylor & Francis Group, 2017), 597-604.
  • Red light at night to enhance cognitive functioning for society’s special needs groups in Proceedings of the 2016 ARCC/EAAE International Conference on Architectural Research (London: Taylor & Francis Group, 2017), 307-313. Co-authors: D.A. Kratzer, D.L. McEachron & E.W. Gonzalez.
  • Chapter 66 “Geomantic (Re)Creation: Magic Squares and Claude Bragdon’s Theosophic Architecture” in K. Williams and M.J. Ostwald (eds.), Architecture and Mathematics from Antiquity to the Future, (Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, 2015).
  • Options for Achieving Deep Reductions in Carbon Emissions in Philadelphia by 2050. Drexel Institute for Energy and the Environment, November, 2015. Co-authors: Emin Aktan, Ahsan Alam, Sarah Colins, Richardson Dilworth, Chloe Dye, Robert Zolitor, Michael Schickling, Sean-Erik O'Donnell, Eugenia Ellis, Romano Foti, Patrick
  • Gurian, Chuck Haas, Marianne Hatzopoulou, Christian Hunold, Eliya Hurd, Hugh Johnson, Franco Montalto, Abhimanyu J.Patwa, Sabrina Spatari, and Jin Wen.
  • Space of Continuity: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Destruction of the Box and Modern Conceptions of Space in Proceedings of the 102nd Annual Meeting of the ACSA.  (Washington:  ACSA Press, 2014), 301-309.
  • EBD Using Daylight-Mimicking LEDs for Improved Health Outcomes in Older Adults at St Francis in Proceedings of the 2014 ARCC/EAAE International Conference on Architectural Research (Mānoa: University of Hawai’i, 2014): 275-285. Co-authors: D.A. Kratzer, D.L. McEachron & E.W. Gonzalez.
  • Chronobioengineering Indoor Lighting to Enhance Facilities for Aging and Alzheimer’s Disorder in Intelligent Buildings International (2013). Co-authors: D.L. McEachron & E.W. Gonzalez.
  • Auto-tuning daylight with LEDs:  sustainable lighting for health and wellbeing in Proceedings of the 2013 ARCC Spring Research Conference (Charlotte: University of North Carolina, 2013): 465-473.  Co-authors: D.A. Kratzer, D.L. McEachron, E.W. Gonzalez & Greg Yeutter.
  • The Red Square: Frank Lloyd Wright, Theosophy and Modern Conceptions of Space in Theosophical History 11/2 (April 2011):  5-24.
  • Daylighting, Daylight Simulation and Public Health: Low-Energy Lighting for Optimal Vision/Visual Acuity and Health/Wellbeing, Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings, No. 57, 2011.  Co-authors: N. B. Handly, D. L. McEachron, A. Del Risco, & M. Baynard.
  • Energy and Environmental Aspects of Data Centers, Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings, No. 57, 2011.  Co-authors: Sabrina Spatari, Nagarajan Kandasamy, Dara Kusic, & Jin Wen.
  • Claude Bragdon and the Beautiful Necessity edited by Eugenia Victoria Ellis and Andrea G. Reithmayr (Rochester, NY: Cary Graphic Arts Press, 2010).