On May 1st, a group of New York City high school students wrapped up their year in the 2017-2018 ACE Mentor Program of America. Led by mentors from SOM in collaboration with Sciame and Atelier 10, the students presented their final design project to a panel of judges at Columbia University. This is the second year that SOM’s New York office has been an ACE team leader since first taking part in the program, which is designed to encourage students to pursue careers in architecture, construction, and engineering, in 1997.
The team's final project, called “Sunrise Garden,” envisions a vibrant, connected, and sustainable future for a former industrial area in Brooklyn. Students met weekly with architects and engineers to design and plan the three-phased project. The proposal includes the creation of a transit hub with recreational spaces, a trade school, and active green spaces, as well as a plan for community engagement. It was recently named as second runner-up in the Construction Industry Round Table’s National Design & Construction Competition.
Thirteen students from the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn joined SOM's team, participating in an engaging schedule of lessons and activities throughout the academic year. SOM mentors represented a mix of expertise and professional levels. "When I found out about the ACE program at SOM, I immediately recognized it as a great opportunity to share my own experiences with future practitioners," said architectural professional and first-time mentor Nidhi Jain. "Their eagerness to learn and enthusiasm to create have shown me the true spirit of the program."
On completing her second year in the ACE program, high school senior Labiba Nazrul said, "I knew I wanted to go into architecture before I attended the program. However, the experience further pushed me to pursue it. Now, I’m excited to take this experience with me into college as I continue to study architecture and will forever be thankful to our ACE mentors." Nazrul received a scholarship from the ACE Mentor Program of Greater New York, as well as a Macaulay Honors Scholarship from the City University of New York, where she will begin her undergraduate studies in the fall. She is also one of three ACE students that will intern at SOM’s New York office in the summer.
Architect Nicole Kotsis, an ACE mentor and an organizer of the internship program, said, "We’re so excited to provide this opportunity for the students because it will allow us to continue the mission of the ACE program while providing a meaningful, even more hands-on experience—one that will hopefully enrich their studies and strengthen their desire to continue in the fields of design and construction."
Structural Engineer Christopher Oster, who has been an ACE mentor for two years, said, "It was great seeing our returning students continue to develop their ACE knowledge and take on leadership roles within the group. We're excited to see some of these students graduate from the ACE program and continue their architectural journey at schools such as Cornell, Syracuse, and Pratt, to name a few, and we know that next year’s returning students will step into those leadership type roles. We’re looking forward to another fantastic ACE season ahead."
The ACE Mentor Program is active in more than 200 cities across the United States. Read more about SOM’s involvement with the program here.