For a little fun, the students of Team 2 split up into three teams and were tasked with designing a structure/capsule which might contain a 4″ x 4″ x 4″ cube, span a minimum of 6″ between two books, support the weight of a single can of pop, and have at least two window. There were specific materials available for “purchase” (each team had a strict budget) and time constraints within which they had to design, purchase their materials, and build. This exercise in time management, planning and design thinking skills turned out to be quite the challenge; throughout the construction process real-life issues even arose! After about 20 minutes the “owner” decided the models were too dark thus a change order for a skylight was issued. Later a citation for exceeding the noise ordinance level was issued and everyone had to whisper for one minute. Soon after that a labor dispute arose and, as a result, only the oldest member of each team was allowed to use any adhesives for the next several minutes. Despite these minor bumps in the road each team created beautiful and suitable structures! A great time was had by all and some insight to the full construction process was gained.

IMG_20150120_183016      IMG_20150120_183533      IMG_20150120_183810


The following week students learned and practiced section drawing and how this type of drawing can be using to articulate different, sometime more specific, ideas and information than elevations or plans. Imagining and sketching sections through various fruits and vegetables helped solidify this practice. From there, Team 2 worked to develop concept floor plans and subsequent sections of the performance space in Focal Point Community Campus!

This week Team 2 worked on developing the final project concepts. Through hand drawing and the 3D modeling in SketchUp, the students were able to mass out the selected concepts and program. It was a great chance for students to dive into the ideas they discussed in Week 7 and vet out how the overall concepts could become something more realistic for the Focal Point Community. See a few images below for a taste of where the project is headed!

IMG_3952 IMG_3950

Concept… Design… Make a Wall Brainstorm…Words.. Images..

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

-Andy Warhol

So we missed week 7 because it was freezing outside but… Week 8… We had some great presentations including a very interesting look into Biophilia by VOA’s Jose Barajas and great information about the Maggie Daley Plaza! All presentations can be found on the Google drive…If you have any trouble accessing the drive please email your mentors!! Next on the agenda that day: firsthand conceptual design.. we searched through magazines to find inspirational images of what we all thought our new site could be… backstory: we chose a site in Chicago that needed to be revitalized and ideas were spewing… and we even had a few differences of opinion! Way to go ACEers! That’s the spirit.. keep up your opinionated conversations.. they will take you places! What a great start. Can’t wait to go actually visit the site and be able to do some site analysis. This will start to assign some guidelines and methods to the madness of possibilities!


Important Files:

See Google Drive (Email Mentor for Links)


Next Meeting:

Breah’s Advice: (Thursday, January 22) at the VOA Office, 224 South Michigan Avenue, Floor 14, from 5-7pm (same place as last week).  We’re going to have a short presentation and dinner and then we’re going to head out to our site to do a little research.  We will be leaving the VOA office promptly at 5:40 – so do not be late!  It’s about 5 blocks from the VOA office, so be sure to wear both comfortable shoes and warm clothing!!  Additionally, be sure to bring a writing utensil and maybe a notebook or something to use as a hard writing surface, as we’ll be collecting info on the go.

This week’s meeting focused on branding environment, interiors and beginning design process. Students engaged in a visual listening activity where they placed stickers on images that either had an interesting architecture or interiors that appealed to the students in some way. Many images will then be used as inspiration for the students as they begin designing their own spaces. We then continued into quick presentation about the site so we are more familiar with the location and other building and amenities near by. The students then used foam and Lego’s in a mass modeling activity. Primary goal of the mass modeling activity is to begin the design process from a big picture stand point.  Students began thinking about how they building will interact with the site and what the form of the building could be.

Upon return from the holiday break, Team 2 students were excited and eager to get back to work! We did a quick recap of our meeting with the client in Week 6 then parred down the programmatic concept list to the following:

IMG_3897– Performance space

– Job Opportunities

– Mural

– Garden

– Synergy




Despite the abstractness of some of these items, the students were able to articulate how all the concepts might work together, both as physical spaces/locations on the site and as community anchors for Focal Point. Next the students, using scaled blocks, created bubble diagrams and concept drawings that incorporated some or all of the concepts. We discussed these ideas and came up with some great brainstorms for the next week!


Team 2 is moving right along! Before the Winter Break we met with our client, representatives from Focal Point as well as the lead designers and project managers from their team. The students finalized their preliminary ideas for the site and presented these concepts. What followed was a great discussion and feedback session which have served as a spring board for design and planning at more recent meetings.

One specific outcome of this client presentation/meeting was a succinct list of programmatic concepts. The students focused on Culture, Food, and Recreation as overarching topics to more specific programmatic elements and described why they believed certain concepts would be valuable to the site.

MTG 6_3639 MTG 6_339


This week Team 3’s ACE meeting began with a brief overview of ARUP’s sound lab and structural engineering. ARUP’s sound lab showed students the importance of the acoustics of a space.  And the structural presentation gave a brief overview of structural concepts and materials.  Concepts such as how live loads and dead load contribute to the total load of a building.A structural engineer needs to consider how the materials used in a building can support these loads. The students then engaged in an activity where they had to construct a bridge to support a load.  Each team was influenced by budget, supplies, and time to construct the bridge.  There were many creative solutions as a result.


Put your design cap on…

Architecture is not simply a job. It is a lifestyle. It is a way of looking at the world. It is a constant exploration where one looks for and finds inspiration in the world around them, and then applies that inspiration to create something. And that thing we create is beautiful and makes a difference in the world.

– J. Brantley Hightower


I was not able to stay the entire time last week, but I know we had a lot of fun learning about the architecture design process! And playing Dear Deloras (learning everyone’s name with an adjective in the beginning). And I am sure the fashion show was fabulous. Good job all on the super original hats! Judging by the pictures, you guys had a blast! See you on Thursday!

Important Files / Links:


Next Meeting:
Thursday November 19, 2014
Clune, 10 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2200
5-7 PM


Which of the following represents the correct order of the Design Process?

a. Bidding and Negotiations, Concept Development, Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documents, Construction Administration
b. Concept Development, Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documents, Bidding and Negotiations, Construction Administration
c. Concept Development, Schematic Design, Design Development, Bidding and Negotiations, Construction Administration, Construction Documents
d. Concept Development, Design Development, Schematic Design, Bidding and Negotiations, Construction Documents, Construction Administration
e. Bidding and Negotiations, Concept Development, Design Development, Schematic Design, Construction Documents, Construction Administration

We Build it with Pasta and Dots…

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

-Steve Jobs

Week 1 was held at Sargent + Lundy and we learned a lot about Structural Engineering…Forces in Compression, Tension, Bending, Shear, Torsion…Live Loads and Dead Loads…Structural Elements such as Beams, Cantilever beams, Floor Slabs, Columns, and Foundations including Footings, Caissons and Piles…Lateral Loads like Wind and Earthquakes…Lateral Systems that resist these loads like Columns, Frames, Trusses, and Shear Walls…Materials like Steel, Wood, Masonry, and Concrete… So much to learn in a short period of time, but we were able to put our knowledge to the test later on!

Icebreaker of the day: Two Truths and a Lie. Lies are often harder to come up with on the spot! Some of you were far too good at it… just kidding… but really, you can get to know a person pretty darn well from this game. We had a few laughs while guessing everyone’s lies. I mean how many people can actually slam dunk in basketball or fall out of a window and break their arm or actually like spiders…haha

Activity of the Day: Build the highest structure with Spaghetti Noodles and Dots… Not to mention, Withstand a very very intense Earthquake… I would say that’s quite the understatement. We broke into groups and created awesome edible mini structures. Excellent COLLABORATION my friends! Each structure withstood the shaking of the human earthquake. All of you were winners in my book, but give it up for Team 5 at 47 inches!

Team 1 = 37 inches


Team 2 = 36 inches


Team 3 = 34.25 inches


Team 4 = 26.5 inches


Team 5 = 47 inches (WINNER)


Team James = 43.5 inches and it crashed and burned during the earthquake



THANKS Sargent + Lundy for the awesome yummy food!

Important Files:
Presentation Week 1b_MATERIALS

Next Meeting:
VOA Associate Incorporated
224 South Michigan Suite 1400
Floor 14
5-7 PM

Questionnaire: (Reply an Answer to this Blog for a Candy at our next meeting!):
*Note: You must sign up for a WordPress account in order to reply.

Name one of five forces listed in last weeks Structural Engineering Presentation (Hint: See file above) – And let’s try to be original for the first five answers please 🙂