F5: Architect Anne Mooney Shares a Love of Materials, a Labyrinth + a Moment Caught on Camera

06.09.23 | By
F5: Architect Anne Mooney Shares a Love of Materials, a Labyrinth + a Moment Caught on Camera

Anne Mooney, FAIA, LEED AP and founding principal at Salt Lake City- and Los Angeles-based Sparano + Mooney Architecture, knew from her very first design studio course that the industry was meant for her. “The work excited and engaged me in a way nothing else had,” she said. “The late nights and intensely rigorous work somehow energized me and tapped into a level of creativity that I hadn’t recognized in me before. It is an incredible gift to find the thing in life that you were meant to do as it sets us on a clear path for who we can become both professionally and personally.”

With more than 25 years of experience in architectural design, project management, and construction management, Anne oversees the planning, programming, design, and process management of the firm’s key projects. As an accredited professional since 2004, Anne steers the firm’s LEED and Net-Zero Energy coordination efforts to deliver sustainable design solutions for each client. She also currently serves as the Co-Chair of the AIA Utah Committee on the Environment (COTE) and the Building Envelope Council (BEC).

light-skinned woman with medium length brown hair wearing a black shirt

Anne Mooney \\\ Photo: Dave Titensor

“My work has always been both a career and a hobby – I enjoy travel, film, reading, and daily life infused with great architecture and design. My favorite city is Barcelona. I had a memorable day there that included visits to Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, the Joan Miro museum, and the Barcelona Pavilion. That was architectural heaven for someone like me,” she shared. “I have also had the experience of living in Italy on several occasions and this is a country that has design infused in all aspects of life from architecture and interiors, to fashion and food.”

“When I was in graduate school, I lived in Switzerland and visited the work of Le Corbusier in France and Switzerland. Experiencing these buildings in person (the housing, commercial, worship, and cultural spaces) made me understand the power of design in a visceral way that images are unable to convey,” Anne shared. “On a larger scale, the Marseille Unite d’Habitation was inspiring as it brought public amenities – childcare, shops, public art, etc. – into a residential building with small, but well-designed, units. And on the micro scale, the Le Corbusier cabin and house designed with Eileen Grey, E1027, are examples of simple domestic spaces along the beautiful French Riviera. Nearby you can also find the grave site he designed for himself and his wife as their final “home.” Proof that design is in everything if you only know how to look for it.

Anne has served as an architectural professor and design critic, training, educating, and mentoring emerging architects and design professionals. Her award-winning designs have been featured in over 35 national and international publications and exhibitions. She was named one of the Top Women in Architecture in 2020 by Mountain Living Magazine, and was awarded the Silver Medal by the AIA Western Mountain Region in 2021. Anne is also a committed educator of the next generation of architects holding an appointment as Professor of Architecture at the University of Utah School of Architecture.

Anne was elected to the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows in 2023. A monograph of the firm’s work and design process, titled Sparano + Mooney Architecture: A Way of Working, was published by Hatje Cantz (Berlin: 2022), and the firm’s premier exhibition exploring its methodology will open at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art from March 10 to July 15, 2023. Make sure to visit if you’re in town!

This week, Anne Mooney is joining us for Friday Five!

detail of marble slab

1. A love of materials

This spectacular piece of marble was found in the European Marble & Stone slab yard this year – one of the delights of working as an architect is discovering raw materials like this and designing spaces to celebrate them. In each design commission, we develop a material language and set of ideas around materials. This involves considering how materials are deployed in a design and detailed in the architecture. I am always looking at how we employ materials and finishes to convey ideas and curate experiences in the spaces we design.

rock formation in a natural landscape

2. Labyrinth in the Utah Desert

Spending time in nature is grounding and opens my mind creatively. This labyrinth in Kayenta, Utah is both a landscape and a meditative, moving
experience in the desert. I feel privileged to spend my time in the American West where we are surrounded by natural beauty, from the mountains to the deserts. The generations of artists working in this context are also inspiring – from those working with monumental land art installations to modest land form interventions like this assemblage of stones creating a pattern to form a purposeful path.

black lab wearing a red bandana while laying down

3. Phideaux strikes a relaxed pose

My trusty companion, Phideaux, is a joy to come home to each day and sometimes can be found next to me in the office! As work pressures inevitably rise up, it has been nice to have the reliable companionship of a beloved pet. At the end of the day, this pup is always happy to see me come through the door hoping for a few treats and with luck a walk or a hike along a favorite trail. Our home has concrete floors which are easy to maintain and forgiving with pets. Phideaux is seen here on a durable, indoor-outdoor Chilewich rug which is easy to clean when he tracks in mud from the garden.

handmade blue and brown pottery bowl

4. Pottery made by my daughter, Claire

I love everyday objects we interact with often that are well-designed and constructed. This bowl was thrown by my daughter, Claire, who has a love of clay. The stoneware piece was made to be used as a small snack bowl or for ice cream, but I use it for everything. It has a lovely color and the bottom of the piece has the foot indented instead of the more commonly seen raised foot so it sits seamlessly on a surface.

autumn sunrise

5. Magical dawn lighting on a fall 2022 morning

No filters! This photograph was taken early one morning when the dawn light illuminated the fall foliage in the most magical way. Rare moments like these are fleeting and spectacularly rewarding for the early riser. In the span of ten minutes the view transformed into the typical morning view – which is still wonderful – but missing the extraordinary coloring offered just a bit earlier. I am not typically a morning person, but days like this are making me seriously reconsider!

Photography courtesy of Anne Mooney.


Work by Anne Mooney:

boxy light brown building blending in with the surrounding canyon growth

Canyon House, located in Emigration Canyon just above Salt Lake City, Utah. This contemporary family residence of 2,500 SF was designed for a couple with young children. The home was designed to capture expansive canyon views while offering a series of gathering and entertainment spaces for the family, both indoors and out. \\\ Photo: Dennis Mecham

circular light brown church

St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church + Day Chapel. This worship project in West Jordan, Utah, began with community outreach, programming, and master planning phases led by Sparano + Mooney Architecture to help determine the vision for the replacement of a 1960s church and rectory building. \\\ Photo: Jeremy Bittermann

modern museum with lots of windows at dusk

Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art (NEHMA) at Utah State University. The façade design is composed of linear vertical panels of opaque and perforated zinc, referencing the materiality of the Performing Arts building but with a unique pattern and design approach. The porosity of the façade invites glimpses into the museum by the passerby, and at night the activity and exhibitions housed within glow through this façade. \\\ Photo: Jeremy Bittermann

small residence seen in the distance of a field

Wabi-Sabi, located in Emigration Canyon above Salt Lake City. This home, designed for a young family, celebrates a unique elevated canyon view with a rare and direct connection to nature. The design was conceived as an expression of both static and dynamic elements, referencing the relationship among the mountain, vegetation, and wildlife on the site. \\\ Photo: Matt Winquist

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Kelly Beall is Director of Branded Content at Design Milk. The Pittsburgh-based writer and designer has had a deep love of art and design for as long as she can remember, from Fashion Plates to MoMA and far beyond. When not searching out the visual arts, she's likely sharing her favorite finds with others. Kelly can also be found tracking down new music, teaching herself to play the ukulele, or on the couch with her three pets – Bebe, Rainey, and Remy. Find her @designcrush on social.