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.

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.