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About Denise R. Arnold LLC

Founded in 2006,  DRA LLC is dedicated to providing our clients with modern, clean, and beautifully usable public and private spaces. Our goal is to ensure that the built environment meets accessibility code statutes and fosters universal access to all programs, services and places for people of all abilities and ages. We provide expertise to municipalities and developers on federal, state and local accessibility statutes and laws.  We conduct grant-funded research focusing on better play and work spaces for people of varying abilities. Our design work includes residential interiors, way-finding and signage, exhibit design, retail and award-winning restaurants. Through our affiliate, Arnold Interiors founded in 1976, we select all project specific furniture and finishes.  We design holistically, custom designing materials and pieces to highlight design elements featured throughout a project and highlighted by the design process. We work directly with tradespeople, artisans and manufacturers to create unique environments based on our client's individual needs and desires. 

Our Expertise

Denise R. Arnold is an architect and urban designer working and living in Chicago. After serving the City of Chicago as an Architect and Urban Designer focusing on Public Policies and large scale Urban Planning initiatives, Denise was awarded the Loeb Fellowship at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design.  She received her Masters in Architecture from the University of Michigan and an advanced degree in Urban Design from Columbia University in New York City. She is currently working on her PhD in Disability Studies at The University of Illinois - Chicago.


Denise is dedicated to creating beautiful and usable urban places and spaces for people of varying physical and cognitive abilities.   She has been awarded grants from various funders including the Boston Society of Architect to research  inclusive design strategies. In 2014, she formed APLUS, a not-for-profit research agency focusing on Architecture for Autism.

APLUS nfp is a charitable organization mandated to research and apply design strategies that better the lives of people living with cognitive differences like Autism, Alzheimer's, and the effects of aging.

Neuroscientists report that physical environments play a critical role in the development of memory, spatial processing, and contextual learning. The founding board members of APLUS are architects, special education teachers and social workers working with children with developmental delays. We will share our expertise to identify the design elements impacting Autistic People Living in Urban Spaces - APLUS - to foster inclusion in our communities.


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