Senior Lecturer Jim Nicholls has over 20 years of experience teaching architectural tectonics in lectures and studios at the undergraduate and graduate level.
Arch 570 Design Development, a graduate lecture class on tectonic theory, produces strong student work in both 1:1 precedent constructions and large-scale tectonic models of studio projects. In Arch 532, Materials and Assemblies, Jim offers a foundation in construction issues and design syntax. In both required graduate classes, the emphasis is connecting design opportunities and construction issues, subverting the traditional separation of theory and practice.
In Jim’s design studios, content varies with the level and focus, always including an opportunity for human scale detail development within a larger context of urban and environmental design. This nesting of design concerns at all scales begins at the city scale with the urban design study of Copenhagen, followed by a collaborative Seattle based studio with students and faculty from Landscape Architecture and Planning. At the human and material scale, each summer Jim teaches a furniture design studio each summer based in the School of Art’s wood shop. Between those brackets, the building scale is taught through his tectonic studio, based on detailed development of a simple program on a provocative site with a limited set of materials. In all the studios, a student’s subjective responses and interpretation of objective constraints provide the design’s theoretical constructs. Jim offers the Storefront Studio as an opportunity for architecture students to design work based in community outreach, preservation, and small town economic sustainability. It enjoys the support of the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and the Main Street Program, Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, and the City of Seattle. The communities of Snoqualmie, Roslyn, Vashon, Gig Harbor and Fall City have supported recent studios. A studio website archives all Storefront Studio work.
Jim practiced architecture in Vancouver BC for 10 years on projects ranging in scale from urban design to furniture. He has taught at the University of British Columbia and continues to be a studio critic. His publications include a book on Glenn Murcutt. Professor Nicholls maintains a diverse practice. He exhibits and curates regularly in art and design.