ACE Team 2

Week 5 – December 12, 2017

 This week Team 2 made some great progress toward developing and programming the site for the CIRT competition. The group started out discussing research done as homework. Students conducted a site analysis on the Woodlawn area to see what the area was in need of. They came up with this list:

  • Everything in walking distance
  • Only 10% use CTA; 67% have cars
  • Abandoned apartments, 18% vacant parking lots
  • Colombian Expo 1893
  • 1960s: jazz clubs, financial area
  • Fieldhouse north of #2
  • 1946: conservation area, but didn’t happen
  • 1968:Civil Rights History
  • Majority black
  • 81,000, 27,000 people gradual decline
  • No major retail
  • Plans to renovate CTA stop
  • Lakefront community
  • U of C
  • Lots of parks
  • Obama library in Jackson Park

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Next, HDR gave a presentation about site analysis and programming. Students learned how ideas go from initial concept all the way to construction. Architects start with an idea, and then create bubble diagrams to figure out general locations. Then they create plan layouts, and then develop the plans in a program like Revit. Students participated in a plan & section activity, where they learned how to draw 3D objects in 2D from different views.

Students then used the researched information and the information from the presentation to start programming for the projects. They broke up into groups and discussed what would be the best uses for the three areas.

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The group convened and each group proposed their ideas. After a great discussion, the group decided on the following uses:

  • Building 2: Combination of a community center and a green space/roof
  • Building 3: Multiuse space including a performance space and a space for social services
  • Building 6: Serve as a connector between 2 and 3

The team will develop these ideas in the coming months.

Next up: college day.

ACE Team 2

Week 4 – December 5, 2017


This week team 2 had the great opportunity to tour the Chicago Architecture Center. Celebrating its Biennial, the exhibition is currently the largest architecture and design exhibition in North America, showcasing the transformative global impact of creativity in these fields. 141 practitioners are features from more than 20 countries, addressing the theme “Make New History.” Students and mentors got the opportunity to tour 3 floors, with 9 stops and 12 installations. At each stop, the guide presented project overview and images, and students received writing and sketching prompts to go along with the exhibit.

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Throughout the experience, students were able to get a new perspective on what architecture means to them, taking time at the beginning and end to reflect on this. Team 2 will be able to use lessons learned and ideas taken from this tour in upcoming weeks when they program and develop their site for the CIRT competition.

To document this experience, Team 2 was featured this week on ACE’s instagram account! Check it out here:

Up next: bubble diagrams; massing diagrams.

ACE Team 2

Meeting 3 – November 28, 2017

This week ACE Team 2 had their first introduction to the construction management portion of the industry. Construction managers aim to build a quality product while minimizing money and time spent. On a daily basis, construction managers have to respond to problems and changes with the design.

The group split into teams of 4 and received the assignment. They were to build a structure that conformed to the following requirements:

  • Span a minimum of 6” between (2) books (cannot be permanently attached to the testing surface).
  • Hold a 4”x 4”x 4” solid cube within the structure.
  • (2) sides are to have windows that are at least 3”x 3” and no structural members can obstruct this open space.
  • The structure must also have a solid roof and a minimum of (1) side must have a solid wall.
  • The structure must be able to hold (1) 12-ounce can of pop placed on top of the structure

The team that could build a structure meeting the requirements for the least amount of money would be named the winner. Costs included:

  • $5 fine for each criteria not met
  • $10 bonus to the project that is voted to be the most aesthetic
  • $2/minute bonus for each minute finished early
  • $4/minute fine for each minute finished late
  • $125 to purchase materials

Each group spent 10 minutes planning (awaiting a building permit) and 40 minutes to complete the structure. Groups got experience with planning for bulk rates, lead times, and minimizing material waste. 15 minutes into the building portion, a noise ordinance was announced where builders had to remain quiet for (5) minutes or risk a $5 fine. At 20 minutes, the owner decided on a change order where each roof was to have a 1″ x 1″ skylight. As a result of the change order, each group was given an extra 5 minutes of work time and $25 for materials. At 30 minutes there was a labor dispute where the local labor unions agreed that only women were allowed to use adhesives for (5) minutes or risk a $5 fine.

Students got first-hand experience with the importance of meeting or exceeding a schedule. One group was able to finish and was awarded extra money. The other three were penalized at a rate of $4/minute for each minute they were late.

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Once all groups were done the mentors judged each structure against the requirements. All groups were able to meet at least three of the requirements! The amount of money each group had left over was totaled and used to determine a winner, who will be announced next week and awarded a prize!

Next up: Chicago Architecture Foundation Biennial — meet at HDR.

ACE Team 2

Meeting 2 – November 14, 2017

Team 2 had a very informative second meeting this week. While the group was eating dinner, HDR gave a presentation about site analysis and its importance in selecting locations and developing designs. Zach showed an example of a site analysis for Goose Island in Chicago. The analysis included considerations for area needs, transportation possibilities, and zoning requirements for the island. This information was then used to propose ideas for potential development of the area.

The site analysis discussion then led into an introduction to the CIRT (Construction Industry Round Table) national competition. The theme for this year is urban block revitalization, which has a goal of transforming a formerly loved urban block. The design should enhance new living, stimulate civic appropriation systems, revive old usages, encourage new activities, and enhance job development, all at a reasonable cost. The final submission will require 1-2 A1 Boards with drawings, photographs of physical models, snapshots of 3D models, brief written explanations, and a narrative of the design process. This is dude on March 7, so the group has less than four months to complete the project– a lofty but achievable goal.


The site for group 2 will be Woodland/63rd and Cottage Grove Green Line Station, which HDR is currently working on. Currently, the area is run-down and in need of revitalization. There are 6 possible areas that can be developed, shown in the graphic below. The group decided to choose three of the sites and develop them for the national competition.

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Students then used the information learned in the site analysis presentation to start the planning process for the site. Encouraged to get all their ideas on paper, students sketched and wrote anything that came to mind in an effort to get as many ideas out there as possible. Even with a limited time of 15 minutes, it was incredible how many ideas were developed and presented. This was a great way to get the ball rolling for the national competition and get everyone thinking about what they’d be interested in designing.

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Team 2 wrapped up the meeting by advocating for which three of the six sites to design for the competition and ultimately voting. Stay tuned for results!

Up next: construction activity; bubble diagrams.

ACE Team 2

Meeting 1: November 7, 2017

This week, Team 2 met for the first time at HDR’s office. After a quick pizza dinner, each mentor firm gave a brief presentation about their company, types of projects they work on, past projects, and fun facts about the mentors. The represented firms are HDR for architecture, WSP for structural and MEP engineering, and Turner for construction management. Prompted by thoughtful student questions, the group discussed how each firm is involved in making a project come to life, from initial concept to grand opening. Throughout this year, ACE students will have the unique opportunity to act as architects, engineers, and construction managers– allowing for a comprehensive understanding of the industry.

Next up was a spaghetti structure activity which was an opportunity to put design and building skills to work. WSP mentors taught the students about the importance of triangles in achieving structural integrity, and then challenged five groups of students create the tallest structure out of spaghetti and marshmallows. In addition to height, the final structures would be judged on ability to resist loads, completion in the 30-minute time frame, and overall aesthetic appeal.

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Students exhibited great pre-planning and teamwork skills when working with their teams. After 30 minutes of hard work with difficult building materials, the structures were tested and measured. Although teams achieved various levels of success, with some structures collapsing under its own weight or as a result of the “earthquake,” students learned valuable lessons about structural strength, keeping to a project schedule, and working with multiple personalities within a team. Congrats to team 5 who achieved a structure that was 25 inches tall, able to withstand a simulated earthquake, and whose design mimicking the Eiffel Towel was judged to be the most architectural.

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Up next: National Competition introduction and voting; architecture activity.

ACE Team 2

Student Orientation – November 2, 2017

Welcome Team 2! It was great to meet everyone at Jones College Prep for the student orientation last Thursday. It’s looking like it’s going to be a great year!

The group started off in the auditorium where they got to hear from ACE program leaders, along with testimonials from former ACE students, including Team 2’s very own Marvin Ambrocio! Afterwards, Team 2 was able to meet for the first time as a group in one of the classrooms. The mentors introduced themselves, and then the group dove into two ice-breaking activities. First, the group played rounds of rocks-paper-scissors, with the winner of each round moving on and the loser becoming the winner’s new hype man. Eventually, there were two students left with two big groups cheering them on. Congrats to the winner Daniel! The activity was a great way to amp-up everyone’s competitive spirits and learn some names along the way.

Next, the group moved on to a “blind poker” activity. Students and mentors taped pictures to their heads so that everyone else could see them. The pictures were industry related– from materials like concrete to structures like the Roman aqueducts. Participants then recruited the help of their peers by asking yes/no questions in order to guess what was shown on their heads. This was a great intro to all materials, systems, and structures available to use in designs for this year, along with a great foundation for the teamwork that will be necessary to complete the project.

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Team 2 is off to a great start. Next meeting is Tuesday, November 7 at HDR’s office. Mentors will be giving brief company presentations and then moving into a spaghetti structure activity.

Week 7 – Site Programming

After a very deserved break, the students and mentors were ready to work hard and push forward with the project! The focus of last meeting was to come up with general concepts of how the space was to utilized. Now, the focus was to divide the project into 3 smaller groups corresponding to each building element in the Damen Silos site. To understand the size of the site, mentors prepared an activity that gave a sense of scale. Familiar elements like a store front or a football field were scaled to an aerial map of the site and students had the opportunity to see how these elements could fit into the site area. Students were surprised to see just how much land was available for use and how tall the grain silos are! The building and site breakout are as follows:

·       Building #1 (Silo structures with tall, thin structure attached) – Restaurant and vertical/urban farming

·       Building #2 (Wide building made up of many silo structures) – Art Gallery and School, possible sports complex

·       Building #3 & Site Development (Open canopy structure and design of the open space on the site) – Community Area for Farmer’s Markets, Craft Shows, Picnics, or Concerts. This group will also work on turning the rest of the site into usable space for other activities (pathways, grassy areas, courts for sports, patio, etc.)

Moving forward, groups will be made corresponding to each individual building element. Each team will be responsible for the coordination of the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction aspects of their piece of the project. This enables each team to go through and learn all the different aspects that go into the design of a building project. It is going to be a very busy schedule as the project develops but students and mentors are ready to work hard and push forward!

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Week 6 – Site Analysis + Bubble Diagram

This week’s meeting was focused on creating a new site analysis for the Damen Silos project. Students had to become familiar with the site and the surrounding area before moving forward with the project. Site logistics such as traffic routes, areas of interest, and surrounding neighborhoods were considered during this site analysis. Since it was their second time completing a site analysis, students were able to complete the assignment with ease! The next task was to create bubble diagrams for the concepts that students had for the project. The goal was to create a general concept to work with. Project elements such as vertical farming, a community art space, and an inviting landscape were discussed and programmed into the bubble diagrams. Students had the opportunity to share and discuss which ideas they liked best and wanted to incorporate into their design.


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Week 4 – Lesson in MEP!

This week’s meeting was held at Primera’s offices. Students were given a presentation by Halvorson and Partners and Primera Engineers on the MEP & Fire Protection disciplines. It is important for students to understand how each discipline plays a role in the overall functioning of a building. In order to give an idea of the amount of MEP coordination that goes into a project, students participated in a fun activity. The “MEP Box” was given to each group of students. The challenge was to fit all of the ceiling elements such as conduit and ductwork into a small wooden box. Different colored pipe cleaners represented different ceiling elements. No two elements could intersect within the box and  students could not bend or change the elements in any way. What first seemed like a simple task, turned into a head scratcher for many groups! At the end of the activity, students had a firsthand look of how complicated MEP systems can get within a tight ceiling space.

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Week 5 – Design Change!

To kick off this meeting, students had a lesson in drawing views of objects. The students worked individually to draw out different 3D shapes in sectional and elevation views. This exercise gave students the basic principles that go behind Architectural and Engineering drawings.




Objects such as Oranges, Soda Cans, and Cheeseburgers were drawn out to show their different views. While the objects were simple, the concept behind drawing a section and elevation is the same for a building. Students also had some fun drawing the person across from them without looking at the paper!
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This week’s meeting changed the project entirely in order to compete in the National Design Competition. In order to compete in the design challenge, the selected project had to fit in one of the following categories:

  • Presidential Library/Museum Challenge
  • Upgrade a Structure Challenge
  • Open Spaces Design Challenge

After some discussion and a team vote, the students elected to move forward with the “Upgrade a Structure Challenge”. Once the Challenge was decided, the next step was to pick a structure to work with. Students and Mentors presented ideas of existing and outdated structures in their neighborhoods. The Damen Silos site, located on the Southwest side of Chicago, was the winning structure. Students were encouraged to come up with ideas of how to revitalize this space while upgrading the structure. The focus of next week’s meeting will be to pick a use for the space in order to move forward with the design. With a March 4th deadline, the Team’s schedule will be tight and will involve a lot of careful planning in order to successfully submit all required materials.  However, with the momentum of the students and mentors in high gear, anything will be possible!  Please keep updated to see how the project comes along.