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D.S. Nicholas RA, AIA, NCARB
Director, MS Design Research; Assistant Professor
Coordinator, Sustainability in the Built Environment Minor


  • PH: 215.571.4432
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URBN Center, Suite 410

Speculative design research and tools for the design of healthy urban spaces in underserved communities with a focus on the residential interior are the focus of Dee’s research and teaching. With a research driven collaborative and mentorship approach, this work includes novel biophilic design, human centered/design thinking processes, interior materials, visualization and advances in building science within the urban home. Dee has founded an informed design research laboratory Integral Living Research, this group creates environmentally driven solutions that work to reduce stress and support enhanced wellness for urban families. Working with students and faculty to develop research strategies for stress reduction in the urban built environment via new service and space-oriented solutions.  We examine how a wellness-through-environment approach can change housing at different scales with informed sustainable strategies, social determinants for health and trauma informed practice.  The overall goal of Integral Living Research is to develop a range of customizable environment-driven tools and services to transform urban living spaces and access when they fail to promote optimal health for underserved families.  

Projects include Garden Fresh Home (Patent Pending) with Professor Shivanthi Anandan; this a trans-disciplinary project exploring urban sustainability through science and informed design, and her funded health and Design Research with Dr. Yvonne Michael is featured in The Plan Journal. As a member of Drexel’s AIA Health and Research Consortium, convened by Dr. Michael, one of only seventeen consortiums nationwide, Dee works to build opportunities for trans-disciplinary health and design based research. Holding a Bachelor of Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University, she then received an MFA from the University of the Arts and is a registered architect. For almost ten years, she ran a solo practice in Philadelphia executing residential interiors, experimental materials reuse, storefront revitalization, space planning and adaptive interior nonprofit reuse. In addition, she recently received a certificate in Health and Design from Cornell University.

Teaching a variety of studios and required courses in materials and conceptual sequences, Dee also specializes in interdisciplinary immersive research courses centered on health, human centered problem solving, sustainability and creativity. Dee instructs Graduate Design Research and Interior Architecture and Design Students and Undergraduate Interior Design students as well as mentoring and interfacing with students across the university. She is the director of the MS Design Research program and  she also coordinates the Sustainability in the Built Environment Minor. 

Dee has exhibited widely and taught architecture and interior design for 16 years at various schools including Temple University, Drexel University, and Philadelphia University. An invited critic at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Tennessee Knoxville, University of the Arts and Gallaudet University, she has presented research works at both national and international conferences and locally at the ExCITe center, The Philadelphia Innovation Center, and the Enterprise Center. Most recently, she presented  in Lisbon, Portugal. Her work has been published and exhibited in a variety of academic and professional journals including ARCH IN-Form, Context,  and conference proceedings for EAD, EDRA, ARCC and ACSA.

Bachelor of Architecture with Design Honors Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh PA Master of Fine Arts: Studio Arts Program University of the Arts, Philadelphia PA Health and Design Certificate Cornell University, Ithaca, NY: Current PhD Student: Projected Completion 2021 Antioch University: School of Leadership and Change