University of Pittsburgh
May 25, 2006

New York Times Graphics Editor Mika Grondahl's Winning Design for Finnish Nationality Room at Pitt to Be Presented June 2

Finnish native Grondahl is completing an M.A. degree in architecture at the University of Oulu in Finland
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-A design by New York Times graphics editor Mika Grondahl has been selected for the proposed Finnish Nationality Room in the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning and will be presented at 2 p.m. June 2 in the Cathedral's Commons Room. Osmo Lipponen, Consul General of Finland in New York, will attend the public presentation.

The jury-comprising a Finnish professor of architecture, the Finnish Room committee, and Pitt officials-found Grondahl's winning "Big Dipper" design, which integrates an early Finnish smoke cottage with the newest audiovisual technology, to be "realizable and to have an elegant overall plan." The contrast between modern and historic in Grondahl's design also represents Finland's rapid development as one of the most advanced countries in the field of technology, the jury stated.

Several Finnish architects and interior designers submitted design entries, which, according to the jury's contest rules, had to be an authentic embodiment of Finnish culture, convey high artistic value, and employ austere simplicity characteristic of Finnish architecture.

Grondahl's design features a long common table in the middle of the room and a floating rear projection screen that is framed with woodpiles. The walls are made of blackened thick logs connected with traditional dovetail joints. As proposed in the design, the interior will be dimly lit, with the only natural light coming from small hatches on the wall; when the room's electric switch is turned on, lights in the form of the Big Dipper constellation shine through an opening in the ceiling.

A Finnish expatriate living in New York City with his wife and three children, Grondahl is on a leave of absence from his position at The New York Times. He is completing work on the Master of Arts degree in architecture from the University of Oulu in Finland. His thesis project is a 35-story Finland Center located in the heart of Times Square in New York City. After graduation, Grondahl plans to complete design projects through Lumi 4, a design company he runs with his wife.

For images of Grondahl's winning design, visit For more information, call 412-624-6150.