Gaute Grindheim, AIA

Read more about my past experiences below.

The story of a Project Manager

My Story

I am Norwegian (grew up on the west coast of Norway) and a Permanent Resident in the USA.I found my passion for architecture when, after high school, I worked in the North Sea on deep sea diving boats.  They had draftsmen onboard, and I took an interest. I went back to school and took a one-year technical drafting course at a vocational high school.  I went to study Architecture in Aberdeen, Scotland (UK), and was the first foreign student to participate in their foreign exchange program with Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL.

There I met Alfred Caldwell and other great professors.  Mr. Caldwell was a great influence on me, and I especially liked his classed related to ancient architecture and the beginning of civilization.  My fourth year at school was a year of practical training.  To continue the Mies influenced experience from IIT, I took a job with Fujikawa, Johnson and Associates (now Fujikawa, Johnson, Goebl and Associates). I had a great experience there and got to work on every aspect of the development of architectural projects.  From there I went back to Aberdeen and completed my undergraduate education and after marrying an American I came back to Chicagoc.

It was a recession, and I had a hard time finding work.  I graduated spring of 1991 and got a job for a small firm in Oak Park in spring of 1992.  It was three of us, and I was lucky to be involved with many aspects of the practice.  I was exposed to specification writing and learned how important they are for the construction of a project.

Since I had my resume out to most of the larger firms in Chicago, after little over a year in Oak Park I was interviewed by Loebl, Schlossman & Hackl.  They brought me in and put me on a healthcare project.  This was when computers were shared (they had 4 at the time).  Over time, as computers became more relevant, I was the first employee to receive a dedicated computer on my desk.  In six years, I went from being an intern to become a project manager and Associate Principal.  I was managing most of the projects we were designing for The Resurrection Health Care Corporation (later Presence Health). Resurrection was expanding at the time, and I became involved in every new hospital they purchased.  I was also managing all projects we had with Alexian Brothers at the same time.  They are both now a part of AMITA Health.

Some of my colleges decided to move to Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum (HOK), and after a short while I followed them.  This was spring of 1999. I was thrown into a healthcare project and continued to work in Healthcare for about a year.  With my background in technology and standards, I was mad the Procedure Area Leader (PAL) in the Chicago Office. This was a companywide group who developed and implemented standards for the entire company.  I was instrumental in HOK moving towards the National CAD Standards at the time.

I have always been interested in technology, and one of the IT leaders in the ST. Louis office offered me a position as Software Manager for the Chicago Office.  I was intrigued and jumped onboard.  This allowed me to test software as well as provide training for all staff in the office.  This was my first opportunity to train others.  I found it extremely rewarding, and helped staff utilize the tools available to its limit.  One young intern wrote me a nice card when she went back to school and said i should be a teacher.

After little over a year, I went back to managing projects, as the new leader in the office felt I could better utilize my skills this way. I grew as an architect and took on major projects such as the Wrigley Global Innovation Center (Chicago, IL), JW Marriott Indianapolis (Indianapolis, IN), and The Kentucky International Convention Center (Louisville, KY).  I worked with many different types of clients and in many different industries.  I also took on the responsibility of Director of Operations and received firsthand knowledge of how a large organization operates.  This was an exciting time and I enjoyed it tremendously.  It gave me a new insight into how architecture is practiced.  Over the years with HOK I have always made sure the younger staff around me grew with me.  Their success reflects my success.  As I became the Director of Operations, I also had to make sure all existing and new project managers were familiar with the way HOK conduct business as well as the tools we use to manage our projects.  I therefore set up training programs for the Project managers and extended some of the training to any staff member who was interested.  HOK in the latter years implemented a mentoring program, and I volunteered to participate on the Mentoring Committee.  There we developed an internal mentoring program, where I participated as a Mentor.

It has always been important to me to help others succeed, and I will continue to mentor others for as long as I am practicing.


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