F5: Jonathan Moody Talks Finding Your People, Future Architects + More

08.26.22 | By
F5: Jonathan Moody Talks Finding Your People, Future Architects + More

Jonathan Moody’s work lives at the intersection of architecture and service by bringing transformational design to under-resourced communities. He believes architecture is a medium through which people can come together and participate as positive social change. As President and CEO of Moody Nolan, the largest African American-owned firm in the country, Jonathan is driven by a passion to continue his father’s legacy of diversifying the practice of architecture. His dedication to advancing diversity has grabbed national attention, recently earning Moody Nolan the 2021 AIA Architecture Firm Award. Recognized by his peers as an exceptional leader and mentor, Jonathan also recently received the AIA Young Architect Award.

With nearly 15 years of experience at the practice, Jonathan’s leadership helps the ongoing expansion of the firm, with 12 locations across the nation to date. Moody Nolan’s work continues to exceed industry benchmarks, receiving more than 300 design awards and citations from AIA and NOMA. Passionate about serving his community, Jonathan also works to advance education opportunities for students of color and serves as a vocal ally for communities in need.

Today, Jonathan Moody joins us for Friday Five!

brown-skinned man wearing a black shirt and brown blazer as he smiles at the camera

Jonathan Moody \\\ Photo: Erica Clark

hand holding small seed between its fingers

1. Faith

It can be difficult on some days to get started knowing what might be needed to get through. I’ve learned that it always turns out to be alright, but sometimes it can be difficult to find that spark to begin. It helps to start with prayer and small reminders. I have to remind myself that great things are possible, and with the smallest bit of faith they can happen.

family photo with everyone standing behind a birthday cake

2. Family

Everyone needs to know their ‘why’s’ and ‘who’s’. When people have asked what inspires me to get through the hard times, the simple answer was the reminder of who I was working for. I also recognize all they went through and continue to go through for me to be where I am. Family will always tell me that they’re proud no matter what. But that just inspires me to do more.

group of people standing outside of a building waiting for a large red ribbon to be cut

3. Community

A further definition of the ‘who’s’ is around who we serve and serve with. I always break down the word community into the parts of ‘common’ and ‘unity’. My work affords the unique opportunity to use buildings to constantly redefine community values. We ask over and over again, “What do buildings show we have in common?” and “How can they serve to unite us?” Through the building process, people within the various communities I have the privilege to work with and for come together.

dark-skinned girl standing with a drawing while two people behind her look on

4. Future Architects

I acknowledge and accept that there are challenges we face that will not be overcome in my lifetime. I’ve always felt my ‘ishness’ of being between generations and seeing their different perspectives. I believe my generation bears the responsibility of bridging the gap between the sacrifices of past generations and inspiring the future generations. When I get to meet people who express their desire to be an architect one day their ideas about how they can create a better future inspire me.

looking over the shoulder of a dark-skinned man drawing on a sketchpad

Photo: Sam Brown

5. History

I often reflect on what it took for us to reach the 40 year milestone as a firm. I think about the sacrifices for my father to even be in a position to start a firm. I think about the clients who took a chance on us with their dreams. I think about the rooms where we didn’t have a seat but where we had advocates who believed in us. I think about all of the work that everyone has done to build an amazing culture and great projects – just by being great people. I’m inspired by all those who share in our 40 year history and those who will help us to write the next 40 years!


Work by Jonathan Moody + Moody Nolan:

exterior of a modern building with people walking across a crosswalk towards it

Hough Branch Library, Cleveland Public Library \\\ The new 8,000 sq. ft. Cleveland Public Library branch which is proposed for the Hough neighborhood. Located across the street from Cleveland’s historic League Park, the new branch will provide access to Cleveland Public Library’s Sports Research Center. In addition to the Sports Research Center, the Hough Branch will feature an open collection areas, opportunities for quiet study, makerspace, and meeting rooms. Spring 2022. \\\ Photo: Moody Nolan

brightly colored interior library space with dark-skinned man standing up while reading to two children seated on blue stools

Karl Road Branch Library, Columbus Metropolitan Library \\\ The upper level is primarily adult spaces that offer different styles of quiet space and collection areas. The ground floor includes lower height program elements, meeting rooms, support functions, and a large children’s area. Both floors overlook an exterior green space. The central upper level takes advantage of the roof form, allowing daylight in. The three petal forms come together at the center of the building and their overlay allows for clerestory lighting. The roof slopes in response to the petal forms and emulates the roofs of the building in the neighborhood. \\\ Photo: Sam Brown

modern angled building against a pink and purple sunset

Library Learning Center, Texas Southern University \\\ The facility is focused on a modern design that evolves to meet the current and future needs of Texas Southern University’s students. The contemporary, angular design draws you inward toward the main lobby space and up through a five-level atrium, which serves as the heart of the building. The entire building encompasses a café, classrooms, book stacks and computer labs, study areas, offices, meeting and board rooms, as well as gallery space. Additionally, the building houses the TSU’s faculty senate, IT department, serves as an Honors College, and provides an alumni suite. \\\ Photo: Kayla Hartzog

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.