David Nixon was among the first handful of architects to work on the US space program in the mid-1980s. He is the only British-born architect to have devoted his career to the space field with three decades of projects ranging from ground infrastructure to spaceflight experiments.
He was born in Britain in 1947 and studied architecture at the Polytechnic of Central London, graduating with a diploma in architecture in 1971. His 40-year career has covered a broad band of experience in the UK and USA in fields of architecture, planning, industrial design and aerospace engineering. From 1971 to 1980, he worked at several leading architectural practices, including those of Sir Hugh Casson, Norman Foster, Nicholas Grimshaw and Richard Rogers in London. In 1978 he founded the avant-garde studio of Future Systems in London with architect Jan Kaplicky with whom he collaborated for 10 years on many exploratory and competition projects.
In 1980, he moved to California where he taught architecture at Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) and the University of California, Los Angeles. At SCI-Arc, he directed a graduate student project for the US space agency NASA on astronaut accommodation design for the habitation module of the Space Station. This led to his growing specialization in the space field through his own office Altus Associates that he established in 1992. Over the years he has worked on a broad range of space and transportation projects for clients ranging from government agencies to cities, private companies and start-up ventures in the USA and Europe. Past clients include NASA, the European Space Agency, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, British Aerospace, Alenia Spazio, McDonnell Douglas, Spacehab, Kistler Aerospace Corporation, Rotary Rocket Company and the cities of Phoenix and San Diego. In 2000, he established his own space company named Astrocourier to develop miniature spaceflight products and services. Astrocourier’s first product – an iPhone-sized school space experiment designed to boost student interest in physics – was tested on a Russian space capsule mission and a European research aircraft flight in 2007.
David Nixon’s work has received awards and commendations over the years in architecture, industrial design and space technology fields. He has authored and co-authored many technical papers and reports on space technology and is at work on a book entitled 'Architecture of the International Space Station' - the first book to examine the Station from an architectural viewpoint. He is a registered architect in the UK and California, a senior member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Industrial Designers Society of America.