Photo of Gayle Nicoll
Photo of Gayle Nicoll
Gayle Nicoll
Faculty of Design, Graduate Studies

Area(s) of Expertise

Health Design, Environment-based Health Policy and Practice, Human/Environmental Behaviour


Dr. Gayle Nicoll, former Dean of the Faculty of Design, is an architect, educator, academic administrator and internationally recognized environmental researcher and advocate for the design of healthy environments. Prior to joining OCADU, Dr. Nicoll was an Associate Professor at University of Texas at San Antonio where she served as Chair of the Department of Architecture, and a Professor at Ryerson University where she served as Program Director between 1992 and 2001. She has focused her teaching and research on building technology, human behaviour and design practices related to healthy environments. Dr. Nicoll graduated with a Bachelor of Technology in Architectural Science from Ryerson Polytechnic Institute in 1981 and a Master of Architecture degree from Clemson University in 1983 and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 2006 from Georgia Institute of Technology College of Architecture. Her research into the environmental attributes and design practices that can promote health has been presented internationally and published leading journals including the Journal of Environmental Psychology, Journal of Public Health Policy and the American Journal of Health Promotion. Dr. Nicoll is a co-author of the Active Design Guidelines (ADG) which has over 20,000 copies distributed in 80 countries and has been recognized with multiple awards including the 2011 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Translating Research into Policy Award, 2011 American Institute of Architects collaborative Award, 2011 Sustainable Building Industry Award of Excellence, and 2011 Environmental Protection Agency Award of Excellence to the City of New York for five sustainability programs including the Active Design Guidelines. She is the primary co-authored a second book on Active Design examining Active Design opportunities and cost implementations in family-focused affordable housing. Dr. Nicoll has been active in service to the architectural profession including participation in the development of the Ontario Building Code Certification Examinations for the Ontario Association of Architects and the new Canadian Architect Registration Examinations. She has being a keynote speaker and conducted workshops on Active Design to Ontario Association of Architect and American Institute of Architects. Dr. Nicoll has served as a consultant to the City of New York on several projects related to increasing physical activity within building environments including providing research and technical consultation for the development of a LEED Innovation Credit for Active Design and USGBC initiative to create an Active Design Health Index for the LEED program. Dr. Nicoll has served as a consultant to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention mentorship program aimed at transferring knowledge about evidence-based and best practice initiatives to combat obesity amongst municipality sponsored by the Community Putting Prevention to Work US Federal program. Dr. Nicoll brings considerable expertise in the academic management and development of curricular and research programs within design programs. Throughout her administrative career, she has demonstrated a commitment to multi-disciplinary education, building the leadership, managerial and administrative abilities that enhance collegial relationships among the faculty, staff, students and professional community; expanding the opportunities for service learning through design-build and community-oriented curriculum; improving administrative effectiveness; restructuring curriculum to accommodate growing undergraduate and graduate programs within a time of economic restraint; improving physical facilities that support curriculum and research; and enhancing professional development of students and faculty.

Awards \ Grants

2011 Active Living Research –Translating Research to Policy"Award, for publication of the Active Design Guidelines, awarded February 2011 Sustainable Building Council Award of Excellence, for publication of the Active Design Guidelines. 2010 Environmental Protection Agency Smart Growth Award for Overall Excellence to the City of New York in recognition of development of sustainable policies including the Active Design Guidelines 2010 Citation from the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter for publication of the Active Design Guidelines. 2010 College of Architecture nominee for the 2010 President's Award for Creative Scholarship

Selected Publications

– Nicoll, G, Lee K and J Dubose (2013), Active Design: Affordable Design for Affordable Housing, City of New York, NY, available at: – Nicoll G, 2011, The Power of Design as a Vehicle for Social Change, Sketch Magazine, 135 anniversary edition, Magazine of OCAD University, pg 36 – City of New York, (2010) Active Design Guidelines, Site and Building Design Chapter, New York, NY available at – Eves F, Olander E, Nicoll G, Puiga-Ribera A, Griffin C. (2009) Increasing stair climbing in a train station: The effects of contextual variables and visibility, Journal of Environmental Psychology 29 (2009) pg 300-303 – Nicoll G and Zimring C, 2009 The effect of innovative building design on physical activity, Journal of Public Health Policy, volume 30, supplement 1 – Nicoll G, (2007) Spatial measures that predict stair use, American Journal of Health Promotion, volume 21, number 4 supplement, March/April 2007 – Zimring C, Joseph A, Nicoll G, & Tsepas S, 2005 Influences of building design and site design on physical activity: Research and Intervention Opportunities. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. February 2005 supplement volume 28, number 2

Professional Affiliations / Boards / Juries

Member, Ontario Association of Architects