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.

63rd and Cottage Grove

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.

The Chicago ACE Mentor Program and Associate Board of Directors is happy to announce two scholarship opportunities offered exclusively to ACE Chicago Alumni: our annual ACE Alumni Scholarship and the Eli W. Cohen Scholarship. See further details below regarding the award, eligibility and the application process.

Both awards are offered to encourage excellence at post-secondary levels and to bridge our support of ACE students from high school graduation to an eventual career in the design or construction industry. Applicants will be assessed by the ACE Chicago Associate Board of Directors and will be based on the following criteria:

  • Outstanding performance in the student’s chosen ACE-related education track
  • Compelling personal character
  • Demonstration of leadership within scholastic and/or extracurricular activities
  • Organization and presentation of the student’s application

Annual ACE Alumni Scholarship

  • Sponsored by the ACE Associate Board
  • One-time $2,000 scholarship
  • Eligibility: Chicago ACE alumni seeking a degree in the fields of Architecture, Construction, Engineering, or related disciplines at the undergraduate or graduate level. Qualified applicants must have completed at least 1 year of post-secondary education.

Eli W. Cohen Scholarship

  • Sponsored by the family of Eli W. Cohen, a renowned structural engineer who helped forge the Chicago skyline and founded the consulting firm that eventually became Thornton Tomasetti. The Cohen family will participate in the selection of the scholarship recipient.
  • Recurring $2,000 award paid annually for max of 3 years until graduation.
  • Eligibility: Chicago alumni pursuing an engineering degree. Qualified applicants must have completed at least 1 year of post-secondary education.

Applicants interested in one or both of these scholarships must email the below documents for consideration by October 23, 2017 to Once you send your attachments to this address they will be automatically uploaded to our system and you should receive a confirmation email.

  • Resume and cover letter, including the dates of enrollment in the ACE program
  • Personal statement reflecting on your experiences in the ACE program and highlighting your commitment to the design and/or construction industries (approx. 1-2 typed pages)
  • Official transcript(s) reflecting coursework through Spring 2017
  • Letter of recommendation written by an employer, teacher, mentor or other person familiar with your collegiate or professional work (letter should be either emailed directly to the Associate Board email or sealed/signed & mailed, and may not be written by a member of the ACE Board)
  • Please indicate if you are interested in the ACE Alumni Scholarship, the Eli W. Cohen scholarship or both.

Recommendation letters can be sent directly by the author (from their email address) to the above address OR, OR mailed to:

ACE Alumni Scholarship

c/o Katrina Fernandez Nova

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

111 West Monroe Street, Suite 2300

Chicago, IL 60603

We look forward to receiving your application! Please contact us at with any questions.


ACE Chicago Associate Board of Directors

Our final week of the design-build workshop was very productive and exciting! We embarked on the construction phase, spending the entire week at the job site. Although we faced a few minor setbacks during construction, we were able to successfully bring the vision for our project to life, presenting the final product to our client, ACE, family, and friends on Friday. Special thanks goes to the ACE Mentors and Administration, The National Public Housing Museum, ACE Technical High School, Chicago Rolled Metal Products, Cushing Co., and Clayco Corp., for their generosity in helping to make this project a reality.

The project features a total of 40 spinning acrylic panels with graphics, information about the future museum, and historical facts related to the history of the Jane Addams Homes on both sides supported by an aluminum frame and “tree-like” column structure with Polycarbonate roof panels. Take a look at the images below of the “Informational Kiosk” for the future National Public Housing Museum located at 1324 W. Taylor St. in Chicago, IL, as well as candid’s from the week and our final presentation.


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This week was a busy one for the students! After some hiccups and quick fixes, our design was officially finalized, and all materials were ordered throughout the week. The students created construction drawings and began construction of the panel components of their design. Additionally, they started the final boards for the presentation of the completed design, which will be held next Friday August 11th at the completion of the program. We are currently coordinating various material deliveries for next week, and can’t wait to get started building on site bright and early Monday morning!

Week 6

This week the students were very busy! A lot of time was spent refining the design in order to create construction documents and order materials. Although the project is now slightly behind schedule, the students’ design has improved greatly since last week. Mock ups were made of the panel construction design, as well as Sketchup and Revit 3D models.

The students were also fortunate enough to visit the offices of Cushing Co. and Chicago Metal Rolled Products, where they were given tours and information regarding their project. Everyone learned a lot, and we are optimistic that the finished product will be great for the National Public Housing Museum and for the surrounding community.


week 5

This week, the team focused on finalizing the materiality for each aspect of the project. We worked in three different groups throughout the week: Informational Panels Group, Tree Column/Roof Group, and Budget/Schedule Group. Communication between all three groups was essential to the progression of the project and for accomplishing this week’s tasks. Both the Informational Panel and Tree & Column groups produced detail drawings using Auto Cad, displaying dimensions and annotations for each component.  The Informational Panel group also created a full size mock-up of one panel, helping us to understand what type of hardware and connections are needed to properly secure them. The budget & scheduling group worked to develop a detailed budget and began reaching out to potential contractors/suppliers to receive quotes for specific project scopes of work.

Friday was a field trip day! We traveled to three different places. Our first stop was the Aqua Tower where we received a tour of the bKL Architecture Offices. Next, we walked to the Magellan Development Group’s Lakeshore East Office. There, we learned about the master planning of the Lakeshore East Development and had the opportunity to see a scaled model of the entire development. We also walked over to a construction site for one of their projects, where we met with the construction manager and discussed the project. Our last stop was to the Hull House Museum. We received a tour of the entire house and learned more about the history behind both the house itself and Jane Addams.

collage 4

During week 3 of the summer design build program, the team focused on finalizing the design of the project and creating a presentation for the client meeting. Students worked together to produce final hand drawings, a digital model using Sketchup, and two physical models. Towards the end of the week, students began developing the project budget and schedule. Jason Perez , a Senior Project Manager, came and provided us with insight about developing a budget and schedule, sharing a few examples with us.



On Friday, we met with the client and community members to present our design. We had a great presentation and received positive feedback about the overall design. Following the presentation, the team discussed the revisions that we need to make to the design based on the client’s feedback as well as the direction that we want to take moving forward as far as scheduling, budgeting, and material selection.

  • Presentation Slides:
  • Client Meeting:


This week, students visited the site of our design/build project, and the future site of the National Public Housing Museum. Located at the corner of Ada and Taylor streets, this site is situated between Little Italy and University Village, and minutes away from the UIC campus. The students got to measure the actual dimensions of the site to get a better idea of where they want to place our design/build object, and get specifics on the size of our structure. We then explored the neighborhood, including the community garden across the street.

week 2 collage 1

After the site visit, we continued developing the design and have come to a decision on a final concept for the project. On Friday, we began to explore using the laser cutter and 3D printer to create models for our designs. Architect Phil Tu presented a tutorial to our team, teaching us how to properly operate the 3D printer. In addition, we created a scale model of one of the proposed designs using the laser cutter.

week 2 collage 2


As the students continue designing and adding detail to their concept, the project will continue to grow and evolve. We are eagerly preparing for our meeting with the Client next week!