Interactive Design, Inc. is the “can do” and “go to” firm. Says Griffin, “The culture of our firm is very different from that of other architectural firms. We are small and decidedly not corporate.
”The best preparation would be for architecture students to take carpentry courses or intern for a contractor for at least a summer. Knowing how to build only makes a better architect.” Dina Griffin
Dina Griffin is president of a successful architecture firm, Interactive Design, Inc. (IDEA) in Chicago, which creates designs that enrich and inspire people’s lives.
Griffin actively promotes the field of architecture to students around the country through lectures and mentorship in hopes of introducing and attracting more minorities and minority women to the field. “So many minorities are not encouraged into subjects such as math and sciences,” says Griffin, “And, many elementary and middle schools don’t even introduce the study of architecture to students. I try to make myself available to such schools so that I can talk to the students about what I do, what it takes to become an architect and, with any luck, spark an interest. We need to get the numbers up in terms of minority architects.”
qualification, skills and determination
“It is important to be able to communicate effectively” says Griffin “One of the most important things for students to understand is that they need to be licensed. The other thing that is required is to have a diversified skill set. “
Griffin, a graduate of the University of Illinois School of Architecture at Urbana-Champaign, knew that it would not be easy. While in an engineering class at Western Illinois University, where she was not only the only female in class, but the only person of color, a professor told her that there was absolutely no way that she could major in architecture. He told her, “You may as well try a less-intense major”-a statement which only fueled her commitment to excellence in her field.
Griffin and her partners boast a wide variety of national and international clients for a firm that has only 10 architects. They have worked on design projects for the University of Chicago and functioned as the architect of record for The Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, among other high profile projects. The firm also holds a term contract for General Services Administration Region 5 enabling them to respond to projects in a six-state area, specifically, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Interactive Design, Inc. is the “can do” and “go to” firm. Says Griffin, “The culture of our firm is very different from that of other architectural firms. We are small and decidedly not corporate. We have no administrative staff. We hire based on areas of expertise and personality that expand and round out our capabilities. Each of the architects handpicks a team of consultants that reflects the creativity and goals that we have set forth for our client.”
Founded in 1992, Interactive Design, Inc. (IDEA) creates environments, structures and interiors for governmental, cultural, educational, libraries, preservation, zoological, commercial and multi-unit housing entities. IDEA is a WBE/MBE certified company. For more information, visit idea8.com or call 312.482.8866
Laying the Foundation
Despite the successes that she has experienced, Griffin is keenly aware of the gender and racial voids in her field. As for the future, Griffin’s outlook is hopeful. Concludes Griffin, “I look forward to the day when there are so many minority architects that no one will know their number—it won’t make any difference.”
Dina Griffin is an Diasporian American female architect; the 6th black woman to become a registered architect in the State of Illinois and was the 125th black woman registered in the United States. Out of the 233,000 registered architects in the United States, 1,858 are Diasporian Americans and only 278 of those are females.