Thomas Edgar Moore

Thomas Edgar Moore was born in Denver, Colorado, 1908, the middle of five children of Harold W. and Mary C. Moore.  Harold was a cattle rancher at Brush, Colorado, when he established the H W Moore Equipment Co. in Denver, and it was there he and Mary raised their family in the historic “House of a Thousand Candles” at 1410 High Street.  After attending The Hill School in Pennsylvania, Tom entered Yale University, where he graduated with a BA degree in 1930.  After a few years of travel and study in Asia and Europe, Moore returned to Yale for graduate studies in art and architecture, earning a BFA in 1936.  In 1936 he married Ruth Glassco of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and they would raise seven children together.  In 1937 he was hired as draftsman and designer with the Denver architectural firm Frewen and Morris, gaining experience with the design of Boulder High School (with Glen Huntington), and in the same year he established his own practice, which would include projects for school, government, commercial, and private clients. During World War II, Tom’s architectural skills led to service as Commanding Officer, First Photo Intelligence Detachment, at US 8th Army Air Corps Headquarters in England.

By the end of the 1940s Moore had become one of the most influential architects of the Avant Garde in Colorado, recognized for Minimalist work in the International Style, often associated with earlier Prairie School design.  The works of Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and other European modernists would influence much of his early work.  Collaboration with such progressive figures as Eero Saarinen, Buckminster Fuller, and Herbert Bayer contributed to his evolving artistic sense and engineering skills, and over the years he collaborated or was associated with a number of notable Colorado architects:

  • Burnham Hoyt
  • Hobart Wagener
  • Fritz Benedict
  • Sam Caudill
  • Ed White
  • Ted Moore
  • Robert Van Deusen
  • Victor Hornbein
  • Eugene Groves
  • G M Musick
  • William Muchow
  • John B Rogers
  • Frank Frewen
  • Don Paige
  • Charles Sink
  • Ken White
  • Dudley Smith*
  • Caspar Hegner*

*Partnership with Tom – Smith, Hegner and Moore, 1946-1950.

Undoubtedly some names are absent from this list.  In addition to Hugh Hyder, engineer on the Shell Structures projects, Tom worked with engineer Milo Ketchum with concrete, and Francis Stark of Denver was engineer on many of Tom’s independent jobs.

Moore’s practice evolved from minimalist residential and public architecture to more innovative projects, especially with thinshell concrete (see text in 1960s section of this site).  He is credited with design of the first thinshell folded-plate roof construction; he invented a structural component for the geodesic dome; and he worked on new concepts for low-cost housing, for which he was offered a supervisory position at HUD in Washington, DC.  Moore also taught an Experimental Architecture Program at the CU School of Architecture in Boulder, where later he would be a visiting instructor.  Many of the buildings he designed still exist, many have been demolished.  While some of his structures at first appear to be rather plain or common, when viewed in the context of the time when they were built, they are exceptional.  Tom died in 1970, age 62.

The pages of this gallery display several of Moore’s projects and provide details in some instances.  For more specific information, or to contribute, please contact us through this website.