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ACE TEAM 8 Final Presentation and Year Overview

Ace students and their mentor hold up plastic bags in a group photo.


Students from DDC/SCA ACE Mentor Team 8 pose for a group photo


The ACE Mentor Program of America, Inc. (ACE) helps mentor high school students and inspires them to pursue careers in design and construction. ACE not only engages sponsors and volunteer mentors to expose students to real-world opportunities, it financially supports student's continued success through scholarships and grant opportunities.

DDC/SCA ACE Team 8 consisted of twenty high school students from Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. Guiding them were seven mentors from the Department of Design and Construction, the School Construction Authority, and TC Electric. Over the course of the year, students participated in the Construction Industry Round Table “Gastronomic Center” challenge. ACE program participants learned to read blueprints, sketch floor plans, and create sustainable mechanical, electric, and plumbing (MEP) measures for their final project. Team 8 conceptualized a Gastronomic Center that would offer food from all over the world. Their idea was to create a dining hub structure that would entice the public to “visit and ENJOY the world of Pangaea.”

Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and social distancing policies impacting gatherings and external programming, the ACE Mentor Program of GNY (ACE GNY) ended all face to face meeting and transitioned to meeting virtually in mid-March. Notwithstanding the challenges presented by the stay at home order, students continued to meet weekly with their mentors over Zoom and were able to put together an impressive presentation while meeting remotely.

“Our students were able to successfully navigate the challenges of virtual learning. They demonstrated both dedication and flexibility. We are incredibly proud of Team 8 and their dedicated mentors from DDC, the SCA and TC Electric. They worked hard to envision a creative and utilitarian community asset. Their project is innovative and practical. Our wonderful mentors have provided our students with a unique learning experience that will open the doors to opportunities in the ACE industries,” said Lee Llambelis, Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships and STEAM Initiatives.

The students' work on the Gastronomic Center Project reflected their varied cultures, which included Mexico, Africa, Italy, Germany, the Philippines, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Nepal. They envisioned a structure built to display the way food is prepared in different ways across the globe. Their design of an International Gastronomic Center would also serve to bring together chefs from around the world under one unique and dynamic space (Pangaea). The dining hub layout would enable the public to view the chefs preparing meals and encourage the sharing of knowledge, experiences, cooking techniques, styles, and cooking methods such the use of stoves, grills, hibachi and more under oneresilient, sustainable, and energy efficient structure. The Center would be located near the Jacob Javits Center and would run through the New York High Line. The center would also incorporate elements of the High Line’s signature design and function. Pedestrians would be able to experience dynamic views of New York City through the Glass Geodesic Dome which would have the world continents etched into its glass. Pangaea’s goal is to bring people and culture together by designing and building a dining hub location where global gastronomy is celebrated. The students estimated the cost of building the Center at just over $180 million dollars. The Center would be expected to generate $ 11.3 million dollars a year in revenue.

On May 5th, 2020, ACE hosted an online virtual session to showcase Team 8’s final presentation and overview of their year. Team 8 presented their Gastronomic Center to a panel of judges, which included Bob Rubin from Construction Disputes, Avoidance and Resolution, and Christopher Scotti, PE-Civil Engineer from Stantec. The judges analyzed the students' presentations and their ability to make a coherent, well thought-out, clear presentation on the design/construction approaches within the project’s objectives while being fully responsive to the competition package elements in the challenge. Our students received critical feedback on their designs and had an opportunity to ask questions of the industry professionals.

Overall, the year was a great success with high student engagement, and our senior team members graduating from high school and looking forward to attending college or pursuing other opportunities in the fall. Five TEAM 8 seniors are headed to college to pursue architectural and engineering degrees. Among the schools they will be attending are: Cooper Union, City College, the New York Institute of Technology, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. We look forward to welcoming them to the ACE professions in the near future!

Students sit around the table for a group discussion.

Students from DDC/SCA ACE Mentor Team 8 engage in a group discussion

Students from DDC/SCA ACE Mentor Team 8 develops a design for the 6th floor of the main building of Pangaea, an international culinary education center they proposed to be built near Hudson Yards

The location of the proposed Gastronomic Center presented on a digital map near the Javits Center

Students from DDC/SCA ACE Mentor Team 8 develops a design for the 6th floor of the main building of Pangaea, an international culinary education center they proposed to be built near Hudson Yards