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Grigaitis birdhouse, photo by Patsy McEnroe


In 1997, Lina Grigaitis graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology with two masters, one in architecture and one in structural engineering. Times were good, and Grigaitis got an entry-level job right out of school. But she hit a wall. School-honed problem-solving skills were useless in the office. "Architecture graduates are very pumped to get into the workplace and to start being creatively  productive," Grigaitis says. "Unfortunately, only a handful of architects will ever be able to express themselves creatively. This is a very depressing revelation. Architects start to question the reasons why they entered the profession in the first place."

It's a familiar story, but Grigaitis's solution was different. She started making birdhouses. She made the one shown here that first year out of school. "I just went home one day after work and indulged myself in some creative time. I designed and handcrafted this birdhouse myself. The outcome surprised me. I wowed myself. It was great." Grigaitis recently pulled the birdhouse out of mothballs with a plan in mind. Twenty-one years later, her career is a different place. Grigaitis is a licensed architect, a stay-at-home mom, and an organizer in the Chicago Women in Architecture. The birdhouse reminds her of a time in her career when she was was working a lot of hours but felt like she had no options. Now she may not be gainfully employed, but her career feels full of possibility. She foresees opening a design/build firm and going after big projects. But first she plans to deliver a very small project: the birdhouse. "The [birdhouse's] design is an explosion of an idea and is directly in line with President Obama's call for a renewed 'Spirit of Innovation,'" Grigaitis says. She wants to give it to First Lady Michelle Obama to hang in the White House vegetable garden.

Shown above: Painted wood birdhouse by Lina Grigaitis; photo by Patsy McEnroe.


Comments (2 Total)

  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 10:13 AM Thursday, September 17, 2009

    And check out one of the best architectural photographers around, who took the accompanying photo:

    Report this as offensive

  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 8:52 AM Thursday, September 17, 2009

    Wow what a birdhouse! Birds might not appreciate it, but humans will. Obviously designed by a creative person.

    Report this as offensive

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About the Blogger

Hannah McCann

thumbnail image Hannah McCann covers the changing culture of the architecture workplace. Her features in ARCHITECT include “0.2%” (March 2007), exploring the reasons behind the disproportionately small number of black women licensed as architects, and “Fair Play” (March 2009), on ways architecture offices can be designed to be more inclusive. Hannah was the magazine’s managing editor from its launch until she left in mid-2008 to spend more time with her young children. She now freelances for ARCHITECT as an editor at large, writing on issues touched on in Worklife and also on history and culture.