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Apr 17, 2012

Dina Griffin

You may not know her by name, but you definitely know Dina Griffin's work—the Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago for instance. As president of the Chicago-based firm Interactive Design, Inc. (IDEA), her team won the assignment of Architect of Record and worked with renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano to construct the 264,000-square-foot building.

With more than 20 years of experience and as one of just a couple hundred African-American female architects in the U.S., Griffin, is already a legend in her own right. She talks to UPTOWN about her story as a trailblazer but first, Griffin sits with US to talk about upcoming projects, recent discoveries and her favorite brunch.

REFLECTIONS: Hometown: Chicago, IL First job: The Architecture Department of Facilities at the now extinct Montgomery Ward Headquarters. * Words to live by: Find YOU and the world will see it. * Working on currently: Our firm is currently working on the Curtain-wall Replacement project for the AJC Ferderal High-rise Building in Cleveland and several projects for the University of Chicago, In May, I will be a panelist at the American Institute of Architects’ Annual Convention in DC, speaking on the role of women and minorities in the profession.

DIVERSIONS: Currently reading: Triumph of the City, Edward Glaeser. He makes the case for urban density as opposed to urban sprawl. * Recently discovered:  I met Vernice “Flygirl” Armour this week. She is a black female who piloted an attack helicopter as a Marine in Iraq and is now a motivational speaker. Her mantra is “You HAVE permission to engage!” I will be reading her book, Zero to Breakthrough next.

PLAYING FAVORITES: Hotel: Hotel Sofitel, any city. * Getaway: Paris and the beaches of Mexico. * Brunch spot: RL, Chicago (I get a twist on eggs benedict and substitute spinach for the meat); Coco Sala, in Washington, DC. I order breakfast flatbread, no meat. * Last place you dined out: Oya in DC.

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