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D.S. Nicholas RA, AIA, NCARB

Assistant Professor, Director, MS Design Research,
Coordinator, Sustainability in the Built Environment Minor



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. As a speculative design researcher, Dee believes that informed design and trans-disciplinary collaboration is at the heart of novel advances and improvements in the built environment.
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 the currently the Associate Director of the MS Interior Architecture & Design program, she also coordinates the Sustainability in the Built Environment Minor.
Dee has founded an informed design research laboratory URBN STEAMlab with Professor Shivanthi Anandan; this lab is a trans-disciplinary laboratory exploring urban sustainability through science and informed design.  As a member of Drexel’s AIA Health and Research Consortium, one of only fourteen consortiums nationwide, Dee works to build opportunities for trans-disciplinary health and design based research. The Studio for Immersive Design and Engagement (SIDE) is a community based learning laboratory she founded with Interiors Professor Debra Ruben, where new work in the urban environment is showcased and experimentation around collaboration can take place. 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.
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 the work of URBN STEAMlab with Dr. Anandan in Lisbon, Portugal. Her work has been published and exhibited in a variety of academic and professional journals including ARCH IN-Form, Context, ARCC and ACSA.