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Our Commitment to HBCUs

February 26, 2021
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Texas Southern University Student Library and Learning Center

Moody Nolan’s Commitment to Partnering with HBCUs Grows Stronger Than Ever

At Moody Nolan, we have a long-held commitment to collaborating with, and designing for, the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). In 1985, just three years after the firm’s founding, Moody Nolan completed its first HBCU project—the Botanical Library & Greenhouse at Central State University. Since then, the firm has engaged with 71 projects across 32 HBCU campuses nationwide.

HBCUs were founded after the Civil War but before the 1964 Civil Rights Act, to create education and degree opportunities for African Americans when no other colleges or universities would. Since 1890, states have been required to provide land grants for colleges to serve Black students, which allowed HBCUs to build their own campuses, but these institutions have been chronically underfunded—even, in some cases, having to wage long battles to access the grant money they are due. A recent influx in high-profile donations has brought increased national attention to HBCU campuses, however, the need remains great—and will continue to do so when the spotlight has moved on.

But Moody Nolan will remain engaged. Last year, the firm started an HBCU committee to explore new opportunities to explore partnerships with HBCUs nationwide. And it’s not all about new projects: Moody Nolan recognizes the importance of providing support for these institutions, not just in design or strategic planning, but also in engaging with the students and providing internships, mentorships, and even job opportunities after graduation. “When I was young, I didn’t know of any Black architects who received national acclaim. I didn’t have mentors in the industry,” says Moody Nolan Chairman Curt Moody. “We want to be role models for the young design students at HBCUs and to create opportunities for them to establish themselves in the industry.”

Moody Nolan team members have taken leadership roles in developing the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) Professional Development Program and creating a lecture series to demystify the profession for students at Tuskegee University. “It’s important that we get back to the schools and show students what success looks like through the lens of a successful African American owned and managed company like Moody Nolan, which has more than 20 HBCU alums as employees and been honored with recognitions like the 2021 AIA Architecture Firm of the Year Award,” says Vince Terry, head of Moody Nolan’s HBCU committee and director of operations and business development for the firm’s Greater Cincinnati regional office. Other team members will be embarking on a virtual roadshow to reinforce connections with campus leaders at HBCUs across the country to discuss new project work as well as strategic and campus planning to help the schools best position themselves for success in their next chapters.

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Recently completed Moody Nolan projects at HBCUs include the 137,000-square-foot Student Library and Learning Center at Texas Southern University, completed in 2019, which serves as the hub of the  Houston campus and a new residence hall at Alabama A&M University, completed in 2017. The firm also has several more projects on HBCU campuses currently in design and construction. A new residence hall at Tennessee State University will open later this year, and a new event center for Alabama A&M University, academic building renovations at Clark Atlanta University and Morris Brown College, new housing at Morgan State University and Meharry Medical College, and a recently announced new Sportsplex at Cheyney University are all in various stages of design and development.

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