Moody Nolan Always Strives for Better

Moody Nolan

Since 1982, Moody Nolan has been striving from coast to coast.

With a passion to break into a field with little minority representation, Curt Moody opened the architecture firm Moody and Associates in 1982.

The firm began with just Moody and a graduate architecture student. By the end of its first year, it grew to nine staff members. As such, Moody eventually joined forces with the engineering firm Howard E. Nolan & Associates, forming Moody Nolan.

At its heart, Moody Nolan is a firm of entrepreneurs who look to use their talents to create spaces that perform and inspire. Sara Boyer — AIA, NCIDQ, LEED AP BD+C, Fitwel ambassador, and associate principal — noted one of their key differentiators and factors for success is the diverse, high-performing team.

“Moody Nolan is the largest African American-owned firm in the U.S., with our diversity significantly exceeding that of the industry,” said Boyer.

The team has been essential to Moody Nolan’s success throughout the years. Boyer noted this really came to light during the renovation and addition of the University of Cincinnati’s Fifth Third Arena. “I believe the success of a project is tied as much to the architecture as it is to the team of people collaborating on it,” she noted.

With such a broad range of expertise and experience, it helps the team at Moody Nolan to think inventively and design solutions for every client’s needs. 

A Variety of Backgrounds at Moody Nolan

Some of that experience also comes from the variety of sports backgrounds brought in by Moody Nolan’s team members. Boyer said most in the firm still play sports. They even have a semi-casual, mostly competitive Moody Nolan tennis team in the summer. “I think it’s the qualities we’ve all gained from participating in various sports that make us the most fun to work with,” she said.

Those qualities translate into a competitive spirit, meaning the Moody Nolan team is always striving to make something better. “We’re not necessarily competitive among ourselves, but we want it to be the best project or space it can be, so we are competitive in that,” said Boyer.

Plus, teamwork and adaptability are big words that stem from the various sports backgrounds. Boyer noted communicating to everyone involved in the project — from custodial staff to the director of recreation — is a huge teamwork aspect. And Moody Nolan takes teamwork even farther by pursuing partnerships with other firms. It will play whatever role — lead designer, associate architect, consultant, etc. — the client needs.

And in terms of adaptability, you have to be flexible to whatever changes may come. In fact, this is something Boyer has learned from playing tennis.

 “You need to anticipate where the ball is going to go,” said Boyer. “You need to think on your feet and be adaptable. If it’s sunny that day and you’re playing outside, you need to be flexible and adaptable to the conditions.”

Part of that adapting happens in how Moody Nolan’s projects have grown in scope and scale over the years. While the firm started with early projects such as branch libraries and religious facilities, overtime it added projects with universities, hospitals and more.

Adapting to Overcome

One of these projects has included the renovation and addition of the Purdue University France A. Córdova Recreational Sports Center. Another is the current project Boyer is working on, the Recreation and Wellness Center for the University of Pittsburgh.

In fact, Pittsburgh is a key example of how Moody Nolan works to create solutions for each client’s needs. Boyer explained the recreation and wellness center is going to be nine stories. However, numerous constraints are influencing the project. While trying to problem solve, they decided to reduce the overall area of the project by removing a floor from the middle of the building. This opened up space to make a double MAC court, moving the racquetball courts to a lower level.

“It was risky at first, but many components of the design improved, resulting in a better project that retained the original design intent,” explained Boyer.

EXTRA CREDIT: Joanna Prociuk of Jacksonville State University enjoyed working with the Moody Nolan. Read more about the benefit of their partnership here.

The above example illuminates one of Boyer’s favorite aspects of her job at Moody Nolan: creative problem-solving. While all projects have constraints, she noted that sometimes the more constraints equal creative solutions. “Our clients often only have one chance in their careers to renovate or build a facility, and we want to deliver the best project that we can,” said Boyer.

This also comes into play with Moody Nolan working to create buildings with lesser environmental impact and greater mental well-being of its occupants. Boyer said both Purdue and Pittsburgh are designed for LEED Gold certification. She noted buildings consume 40% of resources. As such, Moody Nolan must learn about, adapt to and pivot toward energy conserving measures. “We want to do what we can to make sure we’re being resourceful and efficient with our design and engineering,” she said.

Plus, Boyer also loves how at Moody Nolan she can pass on knowledge and expertise to the younger staff. “Much of the architecture profession is learned through experience,” she said. “Yet, it is important to transcend the past and the saying, ‘This is the way we’ve always done it’ — and learn how to develop best practices in an ever-evolving built environment. One example is learning how to design locker rooms for universal access while maintaining a sense of safety and security for all people.”

A Team of Problem Solvers

All in all, Moody Nolan is a team of creative problem solvers. Each member remains committed to providing exemplary services, design signature projects and recruit incredible design professionals. Working coast to coast, the company strives to embody the passion and experience Boyer clearly defined.

But in the end, she noted the foundation of success is teamwork. Like in campus recreation, Moody Nolan is a firm built on its passionate people who are always striving to be the best they can be. “We’re always striving to make something better,” said Boyer.  

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Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at

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