• Design Challenge: Health and Design Research Class Launched


    Urban Design and Health seminar students meet with community leaders
    April 19, 2017

    A new three-year grant from the Scattergood Foundation will transform this annual Design and Health course into the centerpiece of a yearlong health and design research process, in which students and faculty will work to create, prototype and present solutions that can be brought forward and developed in the real world.

    “Both design and public health disciplines have acknowledged that the complexity of these problems call for new solutions beyond what one discipline may produce” says co-instructor Yvonne L. Michael ScD, SM, associate professor of Epidemiology and associate dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs at the Dornsife School of Public Health.

    With this Scattergood support, the Drexel Urban Design & Health team will be able to continue training students inter-professionally, to ensure they learn skills for human centered design, trauma-informed design, and understanding the social determinants of health. In addition, it will support the Scattergood Foundation’s efforts to build capacity and bring design thinking to approach behavioral health problems.

    Students in last year’s class reported that collaboration with other disciplines gave them a wider perspective and provided insight into new possibilities, according to a recent paper published in The Plan Journal.

    Drexel University is one of 11 inaugural members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA)’s Design and Health Research Consortium, which helps translate research on design’s influence on public health into architectural practice for policymakers, design and public health professionals and the general public. Michael and Nicholas are part of the leadership team for the Center for Health and the Designed Environment, Drexel’s AIA Design and Health team.

    For more info:

  • Diana Nicholas + Dr. Anandan will present at ICERI in Seville Spain in November

    ICERI 2016: 9th annual International Conference on Education, Research and Innovation Sevilla Spain
    Reconceiving Urban Space Making Through Design Research:
    Novel Approaches in Urban Sustainable Living

    A research-driven collaborative and mentorship approach, the URBN STEAMlab method includes human-centered design, for change within the built environment, interior materials, visualization and advances in spatial conception within the urban home for health. This paper examines speculative design research, informed design processes and trans-disciplinary collaboration at the heart of a set of novel advances and improvements in the built environment.
    Publication in conference proceedings November 2016

  • DSN to Speak to the Drexel Honors Student Advisory Council

    Fall 2016 Invited Speaker: Drexel Honors Student Advisory Committee
    o The Honors Student Advisory Committee (HSAC) is a student-run organization that works similarly to Student Government in that Committee members serve in leadership roles, meet regularly, and represent the Honors student body to reflect the concerns and desires of the Honors population.

  • FIT CITY PHL: D.S. Nicholas Panelist October 13

    Fall 2016 Fit City PHL: Panel Participant:
    What’s Working: Discussion among community organizations and academic institutes on recent/current projects
    Moderator – Harris M. Steinberg, FAIA, Executive Director, Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, Drexel University

    Beth Miller Community Design Collaborative
    Donna Griffin, Community Capacity Builders, Consultant
    Aliana Havrilla, Community Coach, County Health Rankings and Roadmaps
    Melissa Kim, Program Officer, Philadelphia Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
    Diana S. Nicholas, RA, AIA, NCARB, Director MS Design Research

  • What is Design Research? Interview D.S. Nicholas

    Leshner, Sharon. “What Is Design Research?
    An Interview with D.S. Nicholas, RA, AIA, NCARB of Drexel University | Center / Architecture + Design.”

  • Design Research-- with D.S. Nicholas

    Storz, Emily
    “New Approaches to the Future of Design.”
    Drexel News Blog, October 3, 2016.

  • AIA Consortium in the NEWS!

    “Consortium on Urban Design and Public Health Releases First Annual Report.”


  • spring news

    In collaboration with Biology Professor Dr. Shivanthi Anandan; Interior Design Professor Diana Nicholas presented a project for Sustainable Urban living at VentureWell Open 2015 March 21-22 Conference in Washington D.C. This ongoing project is a proposal for interior biophilic living that involves creating interior spaces that can host food sources for urban spaces where access to healthy food is scarce. Their Venturewell presentation focused on the learning outcomes for students and the development of the project in the student realm involved in the project so far-related to the Interdisciplinary Smart Initiatives Programs which both professors oversee along with the academic minor that resides in Westphal. They will also present this project in a session at the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) in Los Angeles California May 28-31 at the conference, the EDRA presentation focuses on the integration of Design and Science, for urban sustainable interiors.

    Interior Design professor Diana Nicholas will present at the Architecture Centers Research Centers Consortium(ARCC) in Chicago April 07-09; as the lead author of a paper entitled “Sensory Informed Design: human processes and emerging sensory tools.” Her co-authors include James E. Connell, Jr., PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D and Jennifer Plumb, DSW/LSW both are researchers, community practitioners and clinicians at the AJ Drexel Autism Institute. The paper traces the interdisciplinary student and practitioner process involved in designing MobileREACH the Institutes Autism Assessment Van, and posits the ongoing development of a Post Occupancy study for use in further design of products and spaces for people with sensory processing issues. Emergent processes are considered as a mode for examining user metrics in a space for people with sensory issues. The possibilities of evaluation of human comfort through study are also examined. Professor Nicholas is a member of the recently convened A.J. Drexel Autism Institute’s group of Drexel researchers and also the Drexel AIA Health and Research Consortium.

    Entitled ”implicative_contemplative_formative”, Interiors Professor Diana Nicholas exhibited her work at 3rd Street Gallery this winter March 2-29. This solo show of work traces a process of visual exploration over the past four years. It included the proposal of panels for the interior environment and two dimensional works that explore interior patterns. Graphically the work travels the intentional use of a variety of technologies real and imagined. A product of information technologies, and computer generated imagery filtered through human hands, the imagery is derived from a number of sources such as ancient architectural plans, mundane and special interior spaces, Space Mountain, digital models, found objects and natural animal habitats. These ancient, natural and sometimes modern references are then denied their completion by way of the hand, natural design or architectural elements. The work from the show is now available online here: https://mouthoflowers.wordpress.com/

  • modelab

    As part of the Facutly Research Grant recieved in February, DSN took part in a parametric modeling seminar with modelab studios in NYC this past weekend.

  • D.S. Nicholas Wins Faculty Research Grant

    D.S. Nicholas recieved a Faculty Research grant form the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design Ms. Nicholas will use her grant to undertake a project entitled "warp_wrap" The project explores digital fabrication, manufacturing, installation and design build. March 2011

  • RE: Shade @ Penn

    On Design LLC is proud to announce that the RE;Shade, a prototypical shading device made entirely form recycled materials, has been included in this years Philly Works Exhibit at Penn, running October 7-10. The exhibit opening is October 9 from 5:30-111pm at Meyerson hall 34th and Spruce.

  • AIA PA citation of Merit

    On Design LLC is pleased to announce D.S. Nicholas's inclusion in a 2009 AIA PA Citation of Merit. Named "Shared Prospertiy and Beyond", the award included work from a third year architecture studio that Ms. Nicholas co-taught with Professor Sally Harrison in 2004.

  • Fairmount Arts Crawl

    Many thanks to The Fairmount CDC for showing our work in the Fairmount Arts Crawl..the work is still up at the offices: 2206 Fairmount Avenue..stop by and check it out...

  • LEED Services

    On Design LLC now offers expanded LEED services and Green Design....contact us for details...


    The work of D.S. Nicholas was included in the Arts Expo at the University of the Arts this year the show included alumni and local artists to raise money for the student scholarship fund.


    D. S. Nicholas and On Design LLC are proud to announce that the color scheme for a late victorian building at 27th and Girard has been completed please stop by and check it out....Working with the building owner and The Fairmount CDC the colors were selected from a historic pallette and colors were tested at length. The scheme is a monchromatic victorian blue scheme with gold accents; the store front is a late victorian embellished metal top on a large brick factory building.