Frode Rinnan's family lived in Hvedingsveita [a narrow alley in Trondheim] when he was born, and in Haldensgate in the Møllenberg district. Here he grew up in a typical working-class environment but manged to graduate from upper secondary school in the natural science programme in 1925. While in 1926 he was called a "bricklayer", he soon moved on to architectural studies at NTH (the Norwegian Institute of Technology − forerunner of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology). During his student years many of his talents came to light, and he was extraordinarily active in the student community. In the drama and music communities of "Samfundet" [the Student Society in Trondheim] he made his mark as a writer, performer and "brilliant songwriter". For two semesters between 1928 and 1929 he was also the chairman of the Student Union. He graduated as an architect in 1930.
After a brief interlude at Trøndelag Kringkaster [Trøndelag Radio Broadcasting], he left Trondheim for good. However, he maintained his contact with his home town, not least due to his many activities and contacts during his student days. As late as in 1977 he returned to give talks at the Student Union building as a respected public speaker.
As an architect he particularly left his mark on Oslo. In post-war Norway he came to be one of the leading lights behind the slogan "social housing construction". He was a key figure in the design of the Lambertseter south suburb, a pioneering project concerning suburbs in the Nordic countries. He was also active in professional and political activities, for example serving as a member of Oslo City Council for Arbeiderpartiet [Labour Party]. Before the war he was also very active in Socialistiske Arkitekters Forening [the Association of Socialist Architects].
When Oslo was awarded the Olympic Winter Games in 1952, Rinnan was given the main responsibility for all the large necessary constructions. The Holmenkollen ski jump, Jordal Amfi [skating and ice hockey rink] and Bislett stadium [football, track and field events and skating rink], which was demolished in 2004, all bore the mark of Frode Rinnan the architect. Other examples of his work include Frognerbadet [public outdoor swimming pool facility], Njårdhallen [sports hall] and the Oslo university campus at Blindern. Rinnan died in his 90s in 1997. In the Trondheim city picture, he is only commemorated by a road in the Moholt district bearing his name.
Recommended reading: Arkitektur i Norge. Årbok [Architecture in Norway. Year book] 1991.