The partnership between Herbert Moody and Robert Moore, which became known as Moody Moore Architects – and, later, MMP Architects – began in 1936. Moody had graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Architecture in 1926. He worked for more than two years with the firm of Derby and Robinson in Boston (from 1925 to 1928) and for almost five years as a draftsman for the Toronto office of Sproatt and Rolph. This term ended in 1933 when a Depression-related work slowdown resulted in layoffs. Moody returned to Winnipeg and soon registered with the Manitoba Association of Architects.
Before joining with Moody in the new firm, Moore – who had graduated with a Bachelor in Architecture from the University of Manitoba in 1931 – had completed two years of apprenticeship with the firm of Northwood and Chivers in Winnipeg, having registered as an architect with the Manitoba Association of Architects in December 1934.
Given the ongoing economic crisis, business would have been difficult to come by at the start of the young practice, whose offices were first located at 216 Graham Avenue. The home of Samuel L. Wilson (106 Handsart Boulevard) was an early project. Completed in 1938, the house presents a restrained, updated version of somewhat medieval domestic style. The firm’s modern outlook was magnified in another project of the same year when Moody Moore was given the opportunity to design a new Hudson’s Bay Store in Edmonton on the site of the previous (1893 and 1912) stores. With its signature rounded corners, black Quebec granite, Manitoba Tyndall limestone, glass blocks and stainless steel exterior, this project was a jewel of the Art Moderne style. It had to be constructed in three contained sections so as not to disrupt trade. In 1989 the store's three facades were declared a Municipal Historic Resource by the City of Edmonton. This project led to Moody Moore later being commissioned to design Bay stores in Montreal, Banff and Kamloops.
The arrival of the Second World War in 1939 affected the new partnership significantly. Moody felt obliged to enlist, and from 1940 to 1945 he served overseas with the Royal Canadian Engineers Army 3rd Division, achieving the rank of Major. He was stationed first at the Debert Military Camp in Nova Scotia – where he designed facilities for the base – and then travelled to England and France where he designed additions to military hospitals, other buildings for wartime use and, later, worked on repair work. During this time, Moore managed to keep the practice going on his own. One important Winnipeg project from this era was Moody Moore’s 1944 renovation of the Holt Renfrew store on Portage Avenue.
The post-war years brought greater success. Building on its earlier work in retail architecture, in 1948 the firm was hired by the Macleod’s chain of hardware stores to design a host of outlets across the Prairies. Parkades for the downtown Winnipeg Hudson’s Bay and Eaton’s followed in 1954 and 1956, respectively – both employing a design for stacking cars that was new in concept and form. The Mall Centre (491 Portage Avenue, between Balmoral and Colony Streets) followed, combining a bus depot, office tower, hotel and retail complex. In 1968, Moody Moore was responsible for the recladding of Hudson’s Bay House (77 Main Street) to create the current home of the historic Northwest Company.
In these mid-century years the partnership took on a fairly consistent character and it was well known that while Moody concentrated on the design of projects, Moore was the business talent behind the successful practice, ensuring that the projects were done properly and on time. As a young draftsman working in the firm, Roy Sellors recalled quaking whenever Robert Moore entered the drafting room.
Versatile in its range of abilities, Moody Moore also came to specialize in hospital, laboratory and other medical facilities during this period – a natural development given Moody’s wartime experience. The firm’s work in this vein included the Red Cross Lodge at Deer Lodge Military Hospital (1945) and, in 1948, the Red Cross Division Headquarters on Osborne Street North. With its clean lines, strip-like windows, glass atrium and extensive expanses of Tydall stone, the latter was a symbol the possibilities involved in a fusion of Modernist inspiration and local detail.
These projects were followed quickly by regional hospitals in Virden and Morden in the early 1950s, the Women’s Pavilion of Winnipeg General Hospital (1951) and the Winnipeg Children’s Hospital (1952). A noteworthy work was the Princess Elizabeth Hospital (on the present site of the Riverview Health Centre), the opening of which was delayed until 1954 by flooding. This project was followed by a $3-million Veterans Affairs Hospital and a design for Winnipeg General Hospital in 1960. In 1963, Moody Moore built the Manitoba Rehabilitation Hospital and, in 1972, the high-rise Medical Arts Building and parkade (233 Kennedy Street). The latter is also an integrated facility with containment facilities. Later important medical and laboratory facilities designed by the firm include the Enviro-Test Laboratories (745 Logan Avenue, 1980) and, in 1987, the National Research Council Building (435 Ellice Avenue).
Education was another early area of expertise for Moody Moore. In the early post-war period the firm designed Lac du Bonnet School, Churchill High School (510 Hay Street, 1953), Harrow School (550 Harrow Street, 1954) and St. John’s College and Chapel at the University of Manitoba (1958). Perhaps the most significant of these educational endeavours was the firm’s work, in the early 1970s, on the expansion of the University of Winnipeg. The first of these efforts was the addition known as Lockhart Hall: an imposing Late Modernist composition of dark brick which reflected contemporary architectural trends, particularly those in the United Kingdom. The next was the dramatic 1973 structure Centennial Hall. Here the architect’s solution to the need to expand campus facilities on a small site was to suspend a large new building above the extent university, with a fused interior-exterior tiered section stepping down toward the street-level behind the 1896 Wesley Hall. With its imaginative solution to a lack of space, its high-tech feel – with exposed trusses and mechanical elements – and colourfully pained spiral staircase shafts, vents and cables, this design evoked the speculative designs of the British Archigram movement and such later projects as Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. This new type of approach – brought forward by principal designer Lewis Morse – might also have been a reflection of the changing composition of the firm; in 1969 Moody Moore Architects had combined with the firm of Duncan Rattray Peters and Searle (formed in 1963) to become Moody Moore Duncan Rattray Peters Searle Christie, Architects, Engineers and Planners (James Christie had already been a principal designer with Moody Moore).
Moody Moore Architects also had a number of significant projects in the area of business, and particularly along Broadway. These included the Investors Syndicate Building (280 Broadway), which was built in two stages in 1956 and 1962. Moody Moore’s office – a low rectangular masonry structure (since remodelled) which served as the firm's home from 1948 until 1984 – was across the street at 295 Broadway. The Sovereign Life Building at 287 Broadway was another project for the firm, completed in 1956. The Mercantile Bank, also on Broadway, followed in 1972. In 1957, Moody Moore used steel, concrete and masonry construction for the new head office for Manitoba Hydro (820 Taylor Avenue). The National Revenue Building followed in 1958, with a two-storey addition in 1968 to bring it to its current appearance. Another significant work was the Bestlands Building (191 Pioneer Avenue, 1974)) – a high-rise tower that now houses the offices of MTS.
One of the most prominent designs Moody Moore participated in was the result of the firm’s association with Smith Carter and GBR Architects to form the Associated Architects for the Manitoba Cultural Centre, which created the Centennial Concert Hall, the Museum of Man and Nature and the Planetarium. This multi-use complex, completed in 1968, was planned as part of a major redevelopment of the older downtown district. In 1974, Moody Moore Duncan Rattray Peters Searle Christie added the Nonsuch Gallery to the museum to house the reproduction of the wooden ketch in a climate-controlled recreation of an English wharf.
Other significant structures from the office of Moody Moore included the Winnipeg Winter Club (200 River Avenue, 1950); Griffin Steel Foundries (2500 Day Street, 1959); and, St. Stephen’s Church (396 Broadway, 1970). St. Stephen's, along with Westridge United Church (1226 Waller Avenue, 1964), was a rare foray into church architecture for the firm and another of its contributions to the development of Broadway. More recently, the firm developed Shaw Park, a baseball stadium, in 1999. In the past few years, the descendant of Moody Moore Architects and Moody Moore Duncan Rattray Peters Searle Christie – MMP Architects – has branched into multi-family and low-rise residential design as well as hotel-motel construction, while continuing to work in such areas as retail architecture, healthcare and education.