Week 4 was focused on completing final drawings, models, and the presentation for the client meeting at the end of the week.

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On Monday, the students went on a field trip to the 606 Trail and Skinner Park to visit and analyze similar sites and projects.

On Tuesday, they further refined the design they chose from week 4 and developed standard views of the pavilion and seating structure. On Wednesday, study models of the main design and a couple of renditions were made.

Thursday was preparation for the client meeting/presentation in Nichols Tower on Friday. The presentation on Friday went well and the clients were excited about the initial prospective designs. After talking about a couple of possibilities for improvement and refinement, the students are ready for the next step of pre-construction.



Meldrick Dizon

Design/Build 2016 Teaching Assistant







This week students worked on pavilion designs individually then came together to choose a final pavilion design for the Homan Square Farm. The next day, Jeff Levrant , from the Homan Square Foundation visited and they presented their design ideas to the client. The client gave them feedback and more information on what could be done within the space. After this meeting they  started on the physical model. Friday they met with Jason Mendoza, a construction manager, that taught them about budgeting for their final project. The students chose materials and labor necessary to clear the site and start building. They are almost ready to build!


Nia Long

Design – Build Teaching Assistant









Week 2 the students brainstormed in groups and came up with different designs for the site. They faced challenges when they tried to come up with the functionality of the site. Ultimately they came to a general consensus of which components they would be implementing. Structural Engineer, Steven Baldridge, came to visit and give a presentation on of his experiences in the field and projects he’s worked on. Steven gave the students guidance on how to properly build structures according to safety standards. Using this knowledge they modified their designs then came together to create a master site plan. They integrated major components including rainwater collection, a multipurpose outdoor classroom, an accessible entrance and a garden. They ended the week with beginning their detailed components of their designs.


Nia Long

Design-Build Teaching Assistant












Week 1 began this summer’s Design Build Kickoff in Homan Square. This year’s workshop started with a parent-teacher meeting where the project was presented. Here students gained a background on the location of the site and what they would be doing in the upcoming weeks. Friday was the big Design Charrette! Students had the opportunity to speak with the client and get an idea of the their needs. Architects and engineers explained how to go about planning the initial layout. Afterwards students broke into small groups to brainstorm their  site plans while taking into account the surrounding area. Then each group had an opportunity to present their ideas to the client and peers while receiving critique. The students had the opportunity to visit the site at the end of the workday. Week 2 we will continue to develop our designs.

Ernest, Design-Build Teaching Assistant

The ACE Mentor Program is excited to announce our partner for summer 2016, and share details of the planned community project.   This year we will work with the Foundation for Homan Square in North Englewood, a non-profit community advocate who has redeveloped a former Sears Company manufacturing site into a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood.  The site includes a new High School built into the old power station, offices and classroom space in an existing 14-story masonry tower (the original ‘Sears Tower!), new housing and a thriving community center.  Currently, the Foundation is working to establish an urban farm alongside adjacent unused railroad tracks.  Homan Rails Farm, launched in 2015, is intended as a demonstration project and community teaching tool focused on local and healthy foods.  The ACE Design Build team, a group of over 20 high-school and college students, professional design instructors and other supporters, will help develop a master plan for the farm and construct a piece of that plan in the coming summer months!

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The 2016 program is generously supported by donations to the ACE Mentor Program, Chicago Public Schools and Cognizant’s Making the Future Education Program!

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ACE is seeking two students who have an interest in design, construction, and community development to assist with this year’s summer program. The collegiate assistants will fully participate in the summer Workshop as both a team member and teaching assistant. It is expected that the selected candidates will help motivate and lead the students through the design-build process, while also assisting the instructors with organizational or administrative tasks.

To be eligible for this position, the candidate must have completed at least 1 year of the ACE Mentor Program and be currently enrolled in a collegiate architecture, construction, or engineering program. There are no further restrictions. Architectural or structural design ability, construction experience, familiarity with 2D and 3D drafting programs, and prior leadership experience are highly desirable; however, it is not expected that one candidate possess an expertise in all areas.

Teaching Assistantships Application Instructions

Interested students should email resume and cover letter with the subject ACE DESIGN BUILD DIRECTORS to acementorchicago@gmail.com by Monday, April 18, 2016. The cover letter, in addition to highlighting past experience, should include current contact information and provide the year/number of the candidate’s former ACE team. In appreciation for your participation, ACE will provide a one-time college scholarship paid directly to you, for college related expenses such as books and supplies. Award amount will be $2,500.


The ACE Community Design Build Workshop has been selected by Cognizant Technology Solutions’ as one of just 40 programs across the country to receive funding through their Making the Future Education Initiative.  We would like to thank Cognizant for their affirmation and support in growing our summer program!

Cognizant Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Cognizant)

TEANECK, N.J., March 17, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Cognizant (NASDAQ: CTSH) today announced it is awarding 40 grants to expand afterschool, in-school, and summer programs across more than 60 sites in 25 states through its Making the Future education initiative. Designed to promote creativity and inspire interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) among young learners, the initiative supports fun, hands-on “making” programs for students from grade school through high school. The 2016 grants will provide approximately 175,000 hours of making activities, including projects on electronics, robotics, computer programming, digital fabrication, 3D printing and wearable technology.

Cognizant’s Making the Future initiative, part of the company’s overall efforts to promote skills that help ensure a competitive American workforce, was launched in 2011.  Through the annual grants and other programs, Making the Future has introduced more than 260,000 children nationwide to over 1.9 million hours of making activities focused on STEM disciplines.

full press release here

On behalf of the Chicago ACE Mentor Program, our 20 students, and the Santa Lucia School, I would like to thank everyone who has graciously donated time or materials to this year’s project.  The project, or ‘Giardino’, as the students have termed it, is turning out beautifully, and it couldn’t have been done so well without a lot of help!  We have estimated that over $13,000 worth of time/materials have been donated to the school for this project, along with a little inspiration and creative thinking from our students!


Donors Include:

Chicago ACE Mentor Program

Chicago Public Schools Department of College and Career Preparation

Curie High School


Wight Company

CPMH Construction

Ozinga Concrete

Lindblad Company

All-Tech Decorating

Sherwin Williams


Power Construction

Totem Lumber

GCS Supply LLC


Mortenson Construction


Superior Nut and Candy Company


Cushing Company


Adrian Smith Gordon Gill Architecture


Arts Tires Incorporated


And probably several others, whom I have missed!



Client:  Santa Lucia School, K-8
Location:  Bridgeport / Armour Square
Project Summary:  A small urban school on the Southside of Chicago, shy on space but full of energy, was in desperate need of an outdoor space for their children.  The ACE student team, with the support of professionals and volunteers, was able to help transform a 10’ x 125’ neglected concrete side-yard into an appealing outdoor space.  The improved site added 1200 sf of useable outdoor space wtih gardens, gathering spaces and some room for young children to stretch their legs.  The ACE students nicknamed their project ‘Giardino’, in a nod to Santa Lucia’s Italian roots.
The design includes two semi-circular garden spaces intermingled with two larger outdoor classroom areas.  Gabion benches,constructed from reclaimed concrete provide seating and help to define the boundaries of each space.  Other elements include a life-size chessboard, a laser-etched mural, and a colorful wall of polycarbonate panels, designed to protect clerestory windows to the basement.
All of this was completed for $7000 in just 7 weeks, by soliciting the support of local contractors and other friends of Santa Lucia.  Congratulations to our client and to our student team on completing one of our most ambitious projects to date!
Matt Snoap, ACE Summer Workshop Director