ace DB collage for web

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 by Monday, May 13, 2019. 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.


Week 6 (July 23- 27)


The DBW Team split up into groups that worked on the sketchup model, the structural model of the leaf with the columns on AutoCAD, the information display panels, and the bench which has planters built into it. The structure group created a model that has a wood joint system and a model that had metal tubes instead to compare which version will be best. The display group began using photoshop to illustrate the 6 panels, and worked on the material list for the panels. The bench group worked on finalizing the material list needed in order to send to power construction, who is graciously able to donate lumber for the project.


Today we got into a large group at the beginning of the work day to have a list of things to accomplish. Most of the groups stayed the same as Monday, although a few students were put into smaller groups in order to work on: gravel vs concrete for the base of the structure and for the path way from sidewalk to the Ufarm gate, leaf cladding material list, and finding the orientation of the structure on the site. Christian took a group of students to the site, which were able to mark off where the pathway and the structure will be placed so that we can begin digging soon. A few students were able to give insight to what they did today and what they learned, one student from the information display group said she was finishing up the layout of the panels before she implements the information about the Ufarm. “Being able to adjust to changes made for the panels and columns made some moments rigorous, yet seeing the reality of a process like this in the project expands my appreciation for work being done on a larger scale” – Riley


Today the team took a trip downtown to see the construction being done on the renovation process of the Willis (Sears) Tower. The project is going to make a new lobby space, while also updating the elevators to be faster and more energy efficient. The project is expected to be completed in 2020 and is the first large-scale renovation being done in the Tower’s history. Turner, Clayco, Thornton Tomasetti, ESD, and Gensler are a few of the companies working on the project. Iron and construction workers were seen actively working on the structural components of the renovation.


Today marked the beginning of the construction phase, as half of the team went out to level out the weed patch that took up space within the perimeter of where the structure will be built, and started to break ground to create a gravel path. The other half of the team stayed at the ideashop to continue working on the information panels, materials, and shop drawings. Material list has to go out to Power Construction, the company donating the lumber. Shop drawings of the leaf structure will be sent out to Chicago Rolled Metal Products.


The majority of the group went to the site to continue digging, and a few students stayed at the ideashop to finalize the information wall display panels. On site, measurements were checked and adjusted to ensure that a path is created from sidewalk to the ufarm. The group on site broke up into groups that worked on leveling out the weed patch and digging up the path to the ufarm gate.


A few of the students and TA’s came to bKL Architecture firm to work on the photoshop files that had the information panels, and the construction documents for the foundation of the columns, a site plan that showed the structure oriented in the position that it will be built in in order for the person that is coming out to pour concrete on Wednesday to see beforehand. They are expected to come survey the site on Monday, July 30th. We were able to get a tour of Matt’s office and we were able to have lunch before getting back to work. The group worked at the office from 9am-1pm, and some stayed till 4pm to continue working on the connection details between the columns and the leaf structure.  

Alexander Casimiro, Teaching Assistant

Week 5 (July 16-20)

Today we split into 2 groups: one working on the project, and one getting a SketchUp Tutorial. Since we are starting to use computer modeling heavily for the project, we decided it would be worth it to do an in-depth SketchUp tutorial. While half of the class were in the SketchUp Tutorial, the other half continued to work on the project, implementing the feedback that the client gave us on Friday. To achieve this, we split into 3 smaller groups: seating/planters, information wall design, and digital/physical model making. Here are some the things that we changed:
The leaf structure is no longer touching the ground
No water collection
Removed planters from the end of the leaf (too tall)
Picture of the cross-section instead of having a real one (for maintenance)

Today we finalized the leaf design with help from Dominick, from Sheehan Nagle Hartray Architects. We mapped out the leaf canopy to scale on the floor for the team to get a feel of how big it will be in real life. We decided that our original dimensions were too big, so we scaled it down. Instead of having the walls in a T-shape in the front of the leaf, we decided to split the walls and have one wall in the front, and one wall towards the back of the structure, for support. Since the planters will no longer be at the end of the leaf, we are going to design seating that incorporates planters as well. We are still deciding on steel vs wood columns for the structure. The information team is working on all the details for the display walls. There are 3 walls total, one will be telling the history of the UFarm, one will be displaying the technology, and one will be a Photo-Op. The information/technology display is our main priority because that has to be sent out to the client and must get approved. After we get a thumbs up from the client, we must send our the drawings to the manufacturer to get it printed. Keeping in mind the synergy between nature and technology, the students designed a wall with a hexagonal mosaic displaying information about the students and groups involved in maintaining the farm. Some of the hexagons which contain information, will be 3D to attract the eye of the viewer.

Kate and Mike from Turner Construction talked to the students about the next steps. What do we do now? Schedule! They told the team about the reality of planning in construction. As an architect, you will always want to keep working on your design but you have to learn to stop and move on. We are at a point in the project where we have to finalize everything. Making a materials list, calling manufacturers, and making shop drawings are next on the list. Only 12 days left until we start construction. Let the countdown begin!

The seating/planters team worked on a materials list for the bench. The structure of the bench was altered due to the change of material for the information walls. The walls will not be structural, therefore the bench will have to be connected to the two columns on the middle and end of the Information wall. Joshua, Mike, and Diana from Turner Construction worked alongside students to create a schedule for the rest of the program. We nailed some key dates:
Monday 7/23- All designs finalized with dimensions
Tuesday 7/24- Finalize SketchUp Drawing, Finalize Leaf Canopy Design, Order
Bench Materials, Metal Visit
Thursday 7/26- Order Columns, Finalize Information Display Content
Friday 7/27- Client Meeting, Order Information Display Materials, Foundation
Monday 7/30- Group 1: Concrete Contractor Site Visit, Digging Layout
Group 2: Laser Cut Information Display Pieces
Group 3: Building Bench + Planters
Tuesday 7/31- Digging + Assembling Displays
Wednesday 8/1- Column Installation
Wed-Fri 8/1-3- Foundation Installation
Monday 8/6- Construction Begins
Y-Bracket, Bench, Soil/Flower Installation
Tue/Wed 8/7-8- Canopy Installation
Thursday 8/9- Install Information Panels
Friday 8/10- Clean Up & Final Presentation at 10:30

Today the team took a break from the Idea Shop and went to see past DBW projects. Everyone got on the train and headed to Homan Square. After seeing 2 of the past projects, students began to realize that our project has a lot of complicated parts to it and we have to stay simple! Visiting the projects also allowed the students to see how materials look after a year or two years of being built. We are leaning towards steel columns after seeing last year’s project. We also got inspiration for the material of our display wall and how we will lay out the information. We can’t wait to get back to the Idea Shop on Monday to finalize all of the little details and start shop drawings.

Lisette Velazquez, Teaching Assistant

ACE Team 2

Week 9 – January 23, 2017

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This week team 2 gained a good feeling for massing and made valuable progress toward floor plan development. Mentor Andrea started off the session with a lesson on massing and programming by showing the students a 3D printed model of the Woodlawn project area. These models are helpful in the design process to determine massing– the general shape, orientation, and location of the proposed buildings and sites. The models help physically show designers and owners how the new design will incorporate into the current surroundings.

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Once teams got a feel for the massing for their area, they broke down and started working on floor plans. They used scaled cutouts of things like bathrooms, basketball courts, stairways, and people to determine how much they could fit into each space. They also worked with the other groups to plan how to get from each space to the others. This is especially important for group 6, who connects the groups 2 and 3 to the surrounding area.

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In the last few minutes, groups elected spokespeople to present progress made during the session. This helped each group get a better sense of what other groups were planning, and discover areas where they could use better communication. It also helped everyone get a better feel for the overall theme and how the different groups fit together to make a cohesive project. Also, the three presenters got great experience with public speaking for the final presentations in April.

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Up next: continuing floor plans; modeling; MEP intro.

ACE Team 2

Week 8 – January 16, 2017

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Team 2 returned to their childhood roots this weekend with a trip to the Lego Lab at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The group started off with an activity to get their creativity flowing. First, everyone was give 1 minute to create a duck out of legos. Then, everyone passed their ducks to the left, and were given 2 minutes to improve upon the duck. The ducks were then passed again, and participants were given 4 minutes to turn the ducks into hotels. This fun and lighthearted activity illustrated the design process– from initial concept, to peer review, to design changes.


After the duck activity, the focus shifted to city planning. Groups brainstormed buildings and city elements necessary to have a successful and prosperous neighborhood. These included utilities, a grid system, grocery stores, and public spaces. Then, groups were given 30 minutes to create their ideal city out of legos. With the limited time, students did a great job of pre-planning and organizing their cities to be functional and ideal. Groups then presented and received feedback from their peers.

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This fun activity helped put students in the programming mindset– designing with an overall purpose in mind. This is an important concept to master for the CIRT competition.

Up next: floor plans and massing.

ACE Team 2

Week 7 – January 9, 2017

Team 2 had an exciting week. Film crews for the ACE special came to observe the meeting, and many students and mentors were called in for interviews.

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While interviews were going on, the team made a lot of progress toward developing the CIRT site. Agenda of the night included:

  • Dinner with discussions of the overall project theme
  • Group survey results & splitting up into groups (2, 3, and 6)
  • Presentation on scale
  • Programming recap
  • Programming by floor/area activity
  • Site planning & design
  • Site plan activity

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It was a great week, full of both insightful lectures and productive group work. Groups 2, 3, and 6 were able to start developing their site and plan it into the overall theme.

Up next: Lego Lab!

ACE Team 2

Week 6 – December 19, 2017

In a slight change of plans, Team 2 moved up college night. The construction site tour originally planned was cancelled because of politics between the owner and the city of Chicago. The timing worked out well though, with many of the students in team 2 either in the process of applying to college, already accepted to college, or starting to think about the process. Mentors filled out and presented a survey which showed the diverse experiences and options available in and after college.

Mentors were eager to communicate lessons learned and answer any questions students had about life after high school. The diversity of mentors, from hometown, major, activities participated in, and careers post grad, showed the students how many options were available to them. Some of the results from the survey:

College Night 4 College Night 1 College Night 6College Night 2 College Night 3 College Night 5

Mentors explained the importance of being involved and finding something that you are passionate in. College is a great opportunity to try out new things and the mentors hope that students take full advantage!

Next week: continuing to develop the CIRT project site.

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.