Wayne Nichols was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri and received his B.A. from Harvard and his MBA from Indiana University. He worked for Litton Industries and Boise Cascade in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s, developing subsidized housing and urban renewal projects throughout the Western United States.
Wayne and his wife Susan moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico in the early 1970s and formed Communico, Inc. Together they pioneered the early development of passive solar design and construction. The Nichols designed, built and sold one of the earliest solar communities in the nation, as well as winning many awards from HUD and DOE for their innovative developments.
In the 1980s they joined Passive Solar Associates, with Ed Mazria and Dr. Douglas Balcomb, and gave workshops and lectures nationally, training thousands of engineers, architects and builders in how to use the technology. They also started Nichols Agency Real Estate, a brokerage firm in Santa Fe, to market their own projects.
In the 1990s, Wayne and Susan built the pioneering live/work community, Second Street Studios, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They have been engaged in the construction and sale of solar and environmentally sensitive community developments for 35 years.
Wayne served on the board of Nichols Industry in Kansas City for 15 years and has been active in many Santa Fe and New Mexico boards and associations. He also served on the 10th District Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Advisory Committee representing New Mexico from 1991 to 1997.
Susan Nichols grew up in Santa Monica, California and is a fifth generation Californian. She moved to Kansas City in the mid-fifties and met Wayne Nichols while still in high school. She received her B.A. from Stanford University and did postgraduate work in mathematics at Indiana University. They married in 1962 and have three sons and four grandchildren. The Nichols moved from California to Santa Fe New Mexico in 1972 and founded Communico, Inc., a real estate development Company with Susan as President and CEO.
Susan participated in the early years of solar development in New Mexico and nationally. She created some of the earliest mathematical models for passive solar heating performance in buildings and won many national awards from HUD and DOE for her pioneering work in the design and construction of high performance passive solar buildings.
The Nichols, under Susan Nichols management, continued to build some of the earliest solar communities in the nation and to use their subdivisions as market tested laboratories for the construction of the most advanced techniques in solar design and construction. Her work was featured in many national publications during the 1970s and 1980s. She partnered with Edward Mazria, the architect and author; Dr. Douglas Balcomb, in the staging of passive solar workshops throughout the country, training thousands of architects, engineers and builders in this important technology.
In the early 1990s, she partnered with Jonathan Rose of New York, the pioneer in sustainable development practices, and Peter Calthorpe, the internationally recognized planner and architect, to create and build Second Street Studios, one of the country's first live/work loft-type projects ever constructed fresh from the ground up.
She is presently developing Potencia, a 22 lot Renewable Resource Community in Santa Fe's midtown, which will feature green building, contemporary design, water and energy conserving homes. Susan maintains an office at Suite 11 in Second Street Studios, 1807 Second Street, in Santa Fe.
J.C. Nichols Prize
In the year 2000, Wayne Nichols originated and implemented the $100,000 annual J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionary Urban Development, a national award for the most outstanding person in America in the field of Urban and community development. The Prize is sponsored by the Nichols family and the Urban Land Institute to honor the contributions of Wayne's grandfather, J.C. Nichols, for his Kansas City developments during the first half of the 20th century. Winners include Mayor Joseph P. Riley of Charleston, South Carolina, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Vincent Scully, noted Yale architectural historian.
The Legacy of J.C. Nichols
Click below to view a preview of the documentary, "Community Builder: The Life & Legacy of J.C. Nichols", in which Wayne Nichols discusses his grandfather's work:
J.C. Nichols, changed the face of American cities with his planned communities, most notably the Country Club District in Kansas City, MO.
Nichols' philosophies on urban planning, which he put into practice nearly a century ago, are now being adopted by architects, planners and developers. These "New Urbanists" are working to bring back the beauty and charm that American neighborhoods and cities once posessed in the early 20th Century.
Additional Projects by Wayne and Susan Nichols
Second Street Studios - The Second Street Studios was started in 1990 and is one of the first live/work loft-type projects in the country, built from the ground up. It has evolved into a mini incubator project with many small businesses as well as artists and craftsmen. The project has stimulated the rejuvenation of an aging midtown industrial area into a center for artist galleries, workshops, restaurants and small businesses. Susan Nichols, President of Communico, Inc., acted as the contractor and developer in partnership with Jonathan F. P. Rose, Founder and President of Jonathan Rose Companies, and Peter Calthorpe, the noted San Francisco architect and planner. The Nichols Agency acts as leasing agent, with Wayne Nichols as the on-site agent and Marketing Director.
Cibola Subdivision - A fifteen acre, 43 home Planned Unit Development with a guest house and pool.The homes are all of advanced energy conservation and high performance Passive Solar design.
Garcia Compound - A one acre, five lot subdivision with five extremely high quality territorial homes in the heart of Santa Fe's historical residential district just off Canyon Road.
La Potencia Subdivision - A twenty lot subdivision on Santa Fe's West side. The development is in progress. Communico, Inc. acquired the land, established the zoning and will install the roads and utilities. Susan Nichols will design and build the homes, and the Nichols Agency will market the properties.
La Vereda Compound - A five acre, 36 unit luxury condominium passive solar development on historic Palace Avenue three blocks from the Santa Fe Plaza.
La Vereda - A 10 acre 20 lot Planned Unit Development built in the early 1980s. The homes are all high performance passive solar and won numerous design awards from the Federal Department of Energy and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
First Village - Located on 40 acres south of Santa Fe, one of the first solar subdivision in the country. The project was the first development by Susan and Wayne Nichols and was started in 1973 and completed in 1979.
Passive Solar Associates - In 1978, the Nichols, along with Dr. J. Douglas Balcomb, research fellow at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Ed Mazria, the architect and author of The Passive Solar Energy Book, founded Passive Solar Associates. This organization put on a series of national workshops on passive solar design, construction, and engineering over a five year period. Over 4,000 builders, architects and public officials attended the two-day workshops in 100 different cities throughout the country.