Design for International African American Museum

Wins Top Architecture Award

Moody Nolan rendering of the International African American MuseumCurt Moody opened his own architectural firm with a two-person staff, and never dreamed that it would become one of the most respected architectural firms in the nation and the largest African American-owned architectural firm in the country.

Moody Nolan rendering of an interior view of the MuseumIn September 2014, Moody Nolan was awarded the International Architecture Award for its work on the new International African American Museum which is expected to open in 2017 in Charleston, South Carolina.  

Hundreds of award submissions were received from architectural firms across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Australia and the Americas. The award recognizes new skyscrapers, commercial buildings, urban plans, private residences and real estate projects that achieve a high standard of excellence in design, construction, planning and sustainability, and promote best practices in all types of real estate.

Selections from year's submissions were exhibited at the Istanbul Design Biennial. This exhibition, The City and the World, traveled through Europe prior to making its debut in the United States at the Chicago Architecture Biennial, September 21 – October 13, 2014.

The International African American Museum will be devoted to telling the story of the passage of African peoples from slavery to emancipation and freedom in the South. The building represents the journey slaves took from the origins of Africa, across the Atlantic Ocean and through America.

The design intent for the museum exterior is that the large stairway and surrounding ground will also function as an amphitheater. The interior visually recognizes the talents and contributions of African-Americans in dance and music, as is expressed in the collages, galleries, symbolism, imagery, patterns, colors and textures used within and on the exterior of the building. This expressed energy is meant to incite the innermost feelings of visitors, allowing him or her to fully participate in the journey with every twist and turn.

The museum has undergone a number of program changes throughout the planning stage of the project. The original plan conceptualized a 70,000 sq. ft. buiding. That plan was later reduced to 50,000 sq. ft., then again to 40,000 sq. ft. Eventually, an overall site plan expanded the project site to include land that bordered the aquarium across the street, as well as touched an area of waterfront which was owned by the National Park Service. Research concluded that the Gadsden’s Wharf, a point of arrival for many slave ships, was in close proximity to the previous site. However, at this time, the site has been moved to be located on the actual waterfront over the existing Gadsden’s Wharf to show that it has a specific contextual relationship to the historic site where the slave ships arrived. The museum construction is to begin in 2016. 

Noting that the artful design of the building also is intended to inspire STEM learning, Moody says, "one very basic approach is to open the building’s technology and internal systems to full view so that the students can see the systems that are utilized in making the building what it is."  

Curt Moody's architectural practice builds on a strong art foundation. He took a number of free hand drawing and art classes as part of his architecture curriculum in college. This was preceded with other art and industrial art classes in high school.  

Curtis Moody

Founded in 1982 by Curtis J. Moody, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP, and Howard E. Nolan, PE, in Columbus, Ohio, Moody Nolan has since worked in more than 40 states. Specializing in corporate, education, sports/recreation, collegiate, healthcare, housing/mixed-use and public service facilities, the firm has more than 165 employees and regional offices in Chicago, Ill., Cleveland, Ohio, Covington, Ky., Dallas, Texas, Houston, Texas, Indianapolis, Ind., Nashville, Tenn. and Washington, DC.

The Globalizing Architecture Conference Co-organized by Mabel O. Wilson

Mabel O. Wilson at the Globalizing Architecture conferenceOther notable developments this year include Mabel O. Wilson’s achievement in co-organizing a conference with extensive presentations on forward-thinking topics in architecture.

Mabel O. Wilson (Columbia University) and John Stuart (Florida International University) co-organized "Global Architectures: Flows and Disruption" conference held in April 2014 as the annual meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. The conference book containing abstracts of the conference presentations is, in itself, a primer for current ideas and research on global perspectives in architectural practice and education.  Topics addressed include: A “Changing Global Context for Architecture: Emerging Technologies, Disciplines and Design Responses,” “The Elements of Urban Intelligence: New Pedagogies in Global Architectural Theory” and “Realizing the Right to the City:Architectural Methodologies as Agents of Change.”  The abstract book can be viewed here