Meet Saaema Alavi: Architect, Piano Player

This Burr Ridge resident hopes to finish a book that details the challenges and triumphs of career-driven mothers.

On a warm Sunday evening, storefront doors were locking one by one as the last of the stragglers were leaving Burr Ridge’s Village Center.

While the general flow of satisfied customers was moving toward the parking garage, Saaema Alavi was the only person walking into the mall. With some food in hand, she strolled up to Bath & Body Works and took a seat on a bench outside the store.

What brings you to Bath & Body Works?

I work here part-time to put some extra cash in my pocket. I’m on break so I grabbed a snack from down the street.

What do you do for a living?

I’ve been an architect since 1995. I used to love every aspect of buildings. I would enjoy getting lost in the numbers and schematics, and I could visualize it all coming together in my head before I even drew it up on paper. Lately, however, I feel like the profession is becoming too abstract. I’ve contributed to a bunch of projects in downtown Chicago, like Children’s Memorial Hospital, the Chicago Board of Trade and the River East Plaza.

What street do you live on?

Tomlin Circle.

What do you like about Burr Ridge?

I’ve lived in Burr Ridge on and off for 27 years. What I like now, compared to my other stints in town, is that we actually have things to do here. It’s nice having little shops, restaurants, a fitness center and a winery so close to home.

Do you have any hobbies?

I enjoy painting — mostly geometric shapes and objects. I’m also writing a book about architecture, evaluating the industry from a working mother’s perspective. I play the piano too. It’s a peaceful and calming thing that you can do by yourself.

What community issues are important to you?

I have two kids, so I’m in the library quite often. Most people in Burr Ridge have to go to Indian Prairie, but I’ve always hoped that we would get our own library someday. Growing up I lived on the side of Burr Ridge that sent kids to Hinsdale Central and we slowly got in the habit of making that short trip from school to the Hinsdale Public Library, but they charge hefty fees to non-residents.


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