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A Father-Daughter Birdhouse Biz Grows in Boston

In the pandemic's early days, local architect Nima Yadollahpour created a birdhouse design workshop with his eldest child, inspiring lessons about craft, carpentry, and entrepreneurship.

Resembling a tepee with fluted detail, the birdhouse on the left stands 21 inches tall and sells for $169; the birdhouse on the right, geared toward hummingbirds, is inspired by architect Steven Holl’s work and sells for $25.

Several years ago, Nima Yadollahpour, principal of Boston architecture firm ONY Architecture, and his young daughters built a birdhouse for a robin that had made a nest in their yard. “It was a nice project,” Yadollahpour recalls, noting it was largely forgotten until the winter of 2020 when his oldest daughter, Mina, then 10, asked if they could make another birdhouse. “I thought it could be a good opportunity to teach her about architecture and carpentry,” he says.

Yadollahpour had just begun sharing midcentury-architecture books with Mina when the pandemic hit. “Between the kids being on screens all day and my stress with my businesses, it was tough,” he says. To alleviate anxiety and channel positive energy, it occurred to him to focus on designing the birdhouses. “I thought, let’s try to make this a real thing,” says Yadollahpour, who had a website devoted to the venture—coined Chirp, featuring birdhouses that evoke the styles of renowned midcentury architects—quickly up and running. Mina researched birds common in New England and throughout North America, along with the preferred habitats for each species.

Each bird, Yadollahpour says, has specific size and layout requirements for its style of house, and Chirp’s online store categorizes according to species and house types. The different house designs are sold through the website as kits or fully assembled units. The business mission was to introduce people to architecture and design and encourage parents to work on projects with their kids by assembling the birdhouses and connecting with nature.

“It was a real outlet for me; I was excited about what we were doing,” says Yadollahpour, who provided Mina with lessons about fabricating, selling, and inventory, and together the duo came up with a packaging experience. At times, during the height of the pandemic, they were getting 50 orders a day, and a contractor was brought in to help keep up with demand. While that fervor has died down, and Mina is now an active 12-year-old long back at school, Chirp is still cranking out orders. The pair have recently been giving talks at local libraries about the birdhouses. “It’s been good for Mina to have this public speaking experience,” says Yadollahpour, ever the dad on a mission to create teaching moments.

A version of this was first published in the print edition of Boston Home’s Summer 2023 issue, with the headline, “Home School.”