The former Buckeye basketball player has built a mega architectural firm, designed his own home, and now he's giving back.

When Curt Moody confronts a challenge, it’s game on.

From his time as point guard at Ohio State University to his groundbreaking success as leader of the nation’s largest African-American-owned architecture firm, Moody is driven to prevail over hurdles.

So, when faced with the proverbial square-peg, round-hole dilemma while building his own home, the founder and CEO of Moody Nolan Architects knew to design outside the box.

Moody’s airy, contemporary home sits on a triangular lot on Sunbury Road along Hoover Reservoir. The mid-century house that sat on the land before Moody bought it was rectangular, and land-use restrictions on the reservoir added additional puzzles to be solved. For Moody, it presented a unique opportunity.

“I was happy with the irregular condition. It forced me to do something different,” he says. “As architects, it’s part of our job to show people that you can do something different. Equally important, I wanted to dispel the notion that contemporary equals cold.”

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Finding a builder who could work within the parameters set by lot shape, land-use codes and design requirements presented another potential obstacle. Contemporary homes are built with flat roofs, no interior cornice trim and walls that are not perpendicular. Moody chose Betley Vistain Builders to take on the challenge.

The home’s exterior is stone and stucco, with lineal forms that elongate its appearance. The waterfront side of the house is cantilevered and features terraced living and garden spaces.

On the interior, walls of windows and clean lines take advantage of the natural setting. A large, covered terrace blends the indoors with outdoors, extending living spaces both visually and practically. The 2,700-square-foot home can host large groups of people without seeming crowded, Moody says.

The previous home on the site had a basement that Moody and team transformed into a walkout lower level, housing bedrooms, a catering kitchen and what Moody calls his “game day” space, with comfortable seating around a sleek, limestone fireplace and TV. The clever use of a narrow table and chairs behind one of the sofas provides extra entertaining space without taking up valuable square footage.

Although the Moodys knew they wanted a contemporary space, they also wanted it to feel like home. To that end, they chose warm materials and colors throughout. “Most contemporary homes use tile flooring, especially in the walkout areas, but I wanted this to feel like a real living space that was below ground level. Tile seemed cold to me,” Moody says. He chose, instead, a golden, engineered oak hardwood. “Dark [wood] floors are great, but that’s not the mood we wanted to set for this house,” he explains.

Where white is predominant in the design—the granite kitchen countertop, bar seats and cabinets—it is offset by accents of aqua, yellow and blue. Family photos, flowers in bright vases and tigerwood-stained cabinetry further warm up the space. A green wall livens a nook on the lower level.

There is no mistaking that the Moodys are devoted grandparents. Tiny Adirondack chairs face the water on the top terrace, child-sized theater seats are in front of a TV in the master bedroom, a toy workbench and a bowling set are in a “kids’ room” on the lower level.

This is the third house on Sunbury Road that Moody and his wife, Elaine, have called home. They were drawn to the area because of the tree-lined streets, the natural environment and ultimately, the reservoir.

“We find comfort being by the water,” Moody explains. The environment is tranquil, thanks to a 10-horsepower limit on boating and the presence of sailboats on the water. The Moodys relish fishing and relaxing on their pontoon boat during weekends.

The serene and open setting is unlike Moody’s childhood rowhouse in the city’s Weinland Park neighborhood. He moved to a different kind of environment when he became a student at OSU. While on campus with his major in architecture and commitment to the Buckeye basketball team—an unheard-of combination at the time—he had many experiences that shaped him into the architect and person he is today.

“What it did for me was that I didn’t have the time other students had. I developed an innate sense to be able to discard things quicker and find a solution,” he says. “As an architect, I’m pretty decisive.”

Plus, he strongly believes that team play provides an excellent footing for life in the business world. “You must learn and use the unique talents of each individual and not let ego get in the way. I wasn’t always the leading scorer, and that was something I came to accept,” he says. “If [another teammate] is a better shooter than me, I’m going to give him the last shot.”

In the case of designing his own home, Moody also understands that the last word isn’t always his. He thought the house would be improved by adding another level over the master bedroom and went so far as to design it. In the end, he ceded to Elaine, who thought the addition unnecessary.

Moody Nolan’s award-winning work spans the country, including the 545,000-square-foot Malcolm X College and School of Health Sciences in Chicago and $1.5 billion expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York. With offices in a dozen cities, the firm’s projects include hospitals, schools and universities, sports and recreational facilities and museums.

In Columbus, Moody Nolan’s work includes the Ohio Union, Columbus Commons, several Columbus Metropolitan libraries and OSU’s Schottenstein Center/Value City Arena.

Not every project involves billion-dollar budgets or acres of square footage. The firm recently designed and oversaw construction of a 750-square-foot home in the Linden neighborhood as the first of its Legacy Project houses. Planned as an annual gift, the firm will build similar homes in each of its market cities for deserving families who don’t qualify for mortgages but are willing and able to maintain a home.

The Linden house—built with donated time, talent and materials—is a contemporary design with three bedrooms, a kitchen, two bathrooms and a family room. An extended outdoor living and garden space maximize the site. Moody hopes other architecture firms also take on similar community outreach.

He remembers trying to find a way to make a difference in the African-American business community at a time in his career when he could not financially afford to do so. He valued advice received from Smoot Construction CEO Lewis Smoot Sr.

“Be successful,” Smoot told him. “Be an example that they can do it too.”