MWA Spotlight:  John Leonard

In the MWA Spotlight:  John Leonard

Architect John Leonard is another of our long-term family members: he’s been with MWA for fourteen years. Hear what he has to say about working for our firm – and why he may never retire.

Fourteen years is a long time. What keeps you at Morgante Wilson?

I love working with such talented people. I also really enjoy the process of getting to know our clients, and being involved in their projects from start to finish.

How would you define a good client?

That’s a good question – but to make sure I don’t get in trouble I’ll say they’re all good! The funny thing is that we all like working with clients who know what they want – but we also really enjoy exploring design possibilities with clients who don’t. Sometimes we’re developing and refining ideas; other times we’re creating them. I enjoy it all.

Naming your favorite project might be like picking a favorite child – but we’ll ask anyway.

That’s a tough one, but I think I’d have to say the project in Michigan. It was my first curved house, which created so many rewarding challenges for the team. Detailing curved spaces, walls, trim, and built-in furniture was a lot of fun.

What do you consider the three necessities for making a house a home?

To me, layout is paramount. Sightlines, open areas, private spaces, communal zones, transition spaces, framed views, living spaces – all are part of how you experience a home. I also think light is a necessity – you can never have too much natural light. Third, I’d say details that are unique to you – they’re what make even a simple house an uncommon home.

What would your own dream house look like?

It would be mid-century modern, a la Richard Neutra. He designed the Kaufmann house in Palm Springs, a decade after Kaufmann commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build Fallingwater. 

Beyond the work of other architects, what else inspires you?

Traveling, sculpture, and art. I can always find inspiration after spending a day at a museum, getting lost in a new city, or hanging out at a good restaurant. I love it when I see something that makes me wonder how it was constructed and who thought it out.

What else are you passionate about?

Politics, gardening, and theater – the theater is where you’ll find my wife and me on date nights. I also like to draw.

What might someone be surprised to learn about you?

I’m older than I look, and I want to retire on a boat – though I was told architects don’t have time to retire, so that probably won’t be happening!


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  • Bob G. | July 5, 2017

    This is great, but you left out that John is brilliant, and truly one of the nicest people to work with EVER! 
    Behind that ‘awe shucks’ demeanor is a hugely talented guy that any client should feel Honored to work with. 
    Trust me, I had the great pleasure to have worked with John, and I’m grateful for his talent every day I walk through my front door!
    Thanks John!


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