Steve Mouzon and Wanda Whitley married June 16, 1979 after Steve’s first year in architecture school. Wanda, who was already a bacteriologist and microbiologist, then proceeded to camp out in Steve’s architecture studios for the rest of his academic career, observing design work, attending juries, and developing a lasting intrigue with the profession. It was a series of Wanda’s questions that Steve could not immediately answer which shaped Steve’s early career and much of the direction that followed.
Steve opened his own architecture firm in 1991. Wanda, who had been the director of a hospital laboratory until a corporate buyout, joined him in 1998.
Wanda, with her years of management experience running a laboratory, took over the front office, while Steve ran the design side. But that was only by day. By evening, once the employees were gone, Wanda took on her clandestine role as chief design critic, asking question after question that would repeatedly change the direction of the practice. In early 2006, with Steve’s encouragement, Wanda embarked on a mid-life career change by enrolling in a residential design program. She graduated at the end of 2007, at which point her role in Mouzon Design changed from design critic to residential design partner.
Mouzon Design produces a number of town-building tools and services. The house plans have been featured repeatedly as Home of the Month in Southern Living, Coastal Living, and Cottage Living. Steve is Town Architect at several new hamlets, villages and neighborhoods around the country, using a unique method that communicates principles, not just particulars. Mouzon Design’s Premium Tools Collection is a subscription service to robust new place-making tools that heretofore were unaffordable when commissioned by a single development. A Living Tradition is a framework for a new type of pattern book that is principle-based instead of taste-based, and therefore contributes to the creation of new living traditions.
Steve is also a principal of the New Urban Guild in Miami. The New Urban Guild is a group of architects, designers, and other New Urbanists dedicated to the study and the design of true traditional buildings and places native to and inspired by the regions in which they are built. Involving a number of designers brings authenticity to a place that simply cannot be achieved when all buildings are designed by a single hand, no matter how talented that hand may be.
The Guild was instrumental in the creation of the Katrina Cottages concept, and continues to foster the movement, including sponsoring the website (www.katrinacottages.com.) Steve’s Katrina Cottage VIII, which is the first design of the next generation of Katrina Cottages, was awarded a Charter Award by the Congress for the New Urbanism.
The Guild Foundation is the non-profit educational arm of the Guild; it sponsors a number of workshops, tours, and seminars that fill several of the gaps that previously existed between theory and practice. It also sponsors the Guild Tool Foundry, which is a growing collection of place-making tools that can be downloaded free of charge. The Guild Foundation has also hosted Steve & Wanda’s Original Green initiative, which is plain-spoken, common-sense sustainability.
Steve has authored or contributed to a number of publications in recent years, including Biltmore Estate Homes (Southern Living), Architectural Elements: Traditional Construction Details (McGraw-Hill), 1001 Traditional Construction Details (McGraw-Hill), Traditional Construction Patterns (McGraw-Hill), Gulf Coast Emergency House Plans & A Living Tradition [Architecture of the Central Gulf Coast], the award-winning A Living Tradition [Architecture of the Bahamas], and most recently, the Original Green [Unlocking the Mystery of True Sustainability]. Steve and Wanda are also continuing to shoot new editions of their Catalog of the Most-Loved Places. The Catalog typically includes every structure built before about 1925 in various historic towns or districts. There are currently dozens of volumes in the Catalog with several more soon to be released. The Catalog began in the American South, but has expanded in scope to include notable Most-Loved Places in Europe, North America, and Central America. Steve lectures frequently across the country and abroad.