2021 Young Architects Award Recipient
Emerging talent deserves recognition. The AIA Young Architects Award honors individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the architecture profession early in their careers.
As the leader of one of the profession’s storied firms, Jonathan Moody, AIA, is guided by his focused mission to deliver transformational design to underserved communities across the country. Like his father before him, Moody has faced discrimination and a lack of diversity in the profession head on. Bolstered by the challenges he has overcome, Moody has positioned himself as a presence in the communities he serves and a leader at all levels.
"Mr. Moody’s commitment to serving underprivileged communities not only elevates the image and value of the architect to society, but also offers an exemplar role model and hope for a diverse cohort of designers desperately needed in our profession"
Moody grew up in Columbus, Ohio, in an architect’s household; his father, Curtis Moody, FAIA, told him stories of the challenges he faced as an aspiring Black architect. Later, Moody found himself in a similar position as a Black athlete who leveraged sports as a way to pursue his studies. When he earned a spot on Cornell University’s football team, he was warned that it would be impossible for him to compete and earn his bachelor’s degree at the same time. Undaunted, Moody played football for all four years and became the school’s scholar athlete of the year. Not long after, he was recognized with Cornell’s Bronze Alpha Rho Chi Medal, which honors graduating architecture students for their leadership and service.
After completing his master’s degree at the University of California, Moody returned home to Columbus to join his father’s firm, Moody Nolan, as a senior associate. In 2016, he became the firm’s president and facilitated its growth from 146 professionals to 220. More significantly, Moody steered the firm toward focused efforts to educate and empower a more diverse population. To that end, Moody established Moody Nolan Cares, the firm’s community service wing, and began to gather data on its diversity at all levels. Now the CEO of the firm, Moody proudly points to not only the firm’s growth, but also the significant shift in staff composition on its way to joining AIA’s Large Firm Roundtable and its receipt of the 2021 Architecture Firm Award.
“Jonathan was surrounded by architecture his entire life but has grown to realize others are not as fortunate. Because of this, he has become a selfless mentor who is dedicated to exposing underserved youth to our profession in hopes of increasing diversity and inclusion in the design field,” R. Steven Lewis, FAIA, 2016 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award Recipient wrote of Moody in a letter supporting his nomination for the Young Architect Award. “He leverages his leadership position at Moody Nolan to provide resources for aspiring architects and goes above and beyond what most others are doing to reach our youth.”
Mentorship is a core element of Moody’s practice, and he facilitated a relationship between Columbus Public Schools, Columbus State Community College, and The Ohio State University School of Architecture to provide underserved young people with a new path to the profession. Every year, Moody assists students in Columbus West High School, which has one of the most diverse student populations in the city, as they design a library in conjunction with Columbus State Community College’s Credits Count Curriculum. Moody works closely with their teachers, welcomes students into his office, and takes students to visit library construction sites.
Moody believes that the profession must be a direct participant in the dialogue surrounding affordable housing, so he led the effort to establish the Moody Nolan Legacy House project. Every year, the nonprofit selects a location near one of the firm’s offices to build a house for a family in need. Two houses, one in Columbus and another in Nashville, have been completed with another slated for construction in Chicago.
“Mr. Moody’s commitment to serving underprivileged communities not only elevates the image and value of the architect to society, but also offers an exemplar role model and hope for a diverse cohort of designers desperately needed in our profession,” wrote William J. Bates, FAIA, NOMA, AIA’s 2019 president, in a letter nominating Moody.