John A. Nelson has been a member of the architecture faculty at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte since 1976. He received his Bachelor of Architecture Degree in 1973 from Kent State University, and earned a Master of Architecture from Kent State University in 1976. The focus of his teaching career has been at both the foundation and advanced level in the architectural curriculum addressing issues of 1) basic visual design and architectural communication skills, 2) use of the computer within the design studio as a generative as well as an evaluative tool, 3) architectural technology; (materials, systems of structure & environmental control), 4) context/site; (natural environmental forces & man-made/built concerns), and 5) design-build studio experiences; (beginning design projects to design and construction of a small house).
Professor Nelson is a registered Architect, in private practice since 1976, focusing his research/practice on the concerns of climate responsive design-passive environmental control systems as related to issues of affordable housing. His professional work, research and community outreach efforts have centered around the concerns of Habitat for Humanity design-build affordable housing, and climate responsive design. In the Fall of 2005 he was awarded a grant of $87,500 from the City of Charlotte's Department of Neighborhood Development to continue the work of the SoA Design Build Studio. This grant money was used to purchase materials and to hire sub contractors to build, with SoA Undergraduate and Graduate Students, a 1400 sq. ft. 4 bedroom home for Nellie Virginia King at 700 Matheson Avenue in Charlotte, NC. This was the 11th home completed by the SoA Design Build Studio since 1995.
The work of the Design Build Topical Studio has evolved most recently into the establishment of an ongoing formal relationship with Charlotte Habitat for Humanity by offering Fourth Year/Graduate studios addressing issues of prefabrication affordable housing initiatives. The students work on a particular set of design issues facing Charlotte Habitat for Humanity, such as the recently Habitat built multi-family town home project, in which the students researched, evaluated and proposed multi-family design schemes. The student design work provided an opportunity for Habitat to look at alternative strategies and move forward on their multi-family project. The students also work side by side with Habitat staff and volunteers throughout the semester in order to better understand the issues of building affordable volunteer friendly homes. Associate Professors' Gregor Weiss and John Nelson initiated the College's Design Build efforts and in 1997 were recipients of The American Institute of Architects Education Honors Merit Award.
Presently, in addition to teaching the Topical Studio, he is co-teaching the required Environmental Systems course and offering a number of lecture/seminar classes addressing issues of climate responsive passive design, computer program energy analysis and prefabricated/modular affordable housing concerns.