EDRAite of the Month - Robert Nichols
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Robert Nichols

March 2016

Robert Nichols

As an Owner and Principal of Nichols Design Associates, Inc. in Washington, DC , I specialize in Universal Design and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility requirements. My expertise is including building surveys and the design of barrier-free environments for major governmental, commercial, institutional and residential clients. Prior to establishing my own business, I worked as an accessibility specialist at the Access Board in Washington, DC, revising and updating guidelines related to telecommunications for the deaf. Since I joined EDRA in 2015, I have engaged to be in associated with professional services on environmental design researches and projects for all.

From my experience as a deaf architect on all basic phases of architectural service for several projects in the Washington, DC area, I have largely overlooked the needs and design inspiration inherent to deaf sensibilities. Such an oversight is symptomatic of a lack of attention in contemporary design practices to the fundamental relationship among the senses, architecture, and well-being validating the “distorted perceptions that further distance the procession from the public a large.” Through a close examination of the making of an open space in the private residential home, this project shows spatial organization as a more empathic approach to design grounded in an awareness of the relationship among architecture, culture, and sensory experience.

I was an instructor and juror in the design studio at Boston Architectural College, Boston, MA; University of Maryland in College Park; Tsukuba University of Technology, Tsukuba, Japan; and Marymount College, Arlington, VA. I was a representative for Hearing Loss of American on ANSI A117.1 Committee, the national standard for accessibility.

I am pleased to announce that our new non-profit organization – World Deaf Architecture (WDA) – which was established in 2015 by myself as co-founder and Acting President. WDA is a new created group to become affiliated with American Institute of Architects (AIA) Knowledge Communities and Networks. We have our first WDA Symposium to be held in Philadelphia, PA on May 18, 2016, a pre-convention day for the 2016 National AIA Convention. For the information, see a link:www.worlddeafarchitecture.org. I have another presentation at the Environmental for Aging Conference in Austin, TX. The topic is called “How Can Universal Design for Deaf/Hard of Hearing Residents be Applicable to Other?” which will discuss about the pros and cons of the design for the deaf residents living in housing.


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