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Construction Industry Roundtable Challenge

On January 19, 2021, the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) in partnership with The School Construction Authority (SCA) moderated a virtual discussion with ACE Team 8 focused on the 2021 Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT) challenge. ACE Team 8 is an affiliate of the ACE Mentor Program of America. ACE is an afterschool program designed to encourage high school students to pursue careers in Architecture, Construction and Engineering industry. ACE Team 8 led by the DDC STEAM Initiatives team and is made up of 25 public school students from neighborhoods all over New York City. Team 8 is led by 7 mentor professionals from DDC and the SCA.

For over a decade TEAM 8 has participated in the Construction Industry Round Table Challenge. Team 8 voted to design a homeless shelter in New York City. Students are tasked with creating a functional, modern, welcoming shelter that addresses the needs of its occupants as it relates to health, safety, treatment, and nourishment.

Team 8 considered four potential locations as possible shelter sites: Floyd Bennett Field, Jumping Jack Power Plant and the Red Hook Green Terminal in Brooklyn. They also considered the Spofford Youth Detention Center in the Bronx. They ultimately voted to design a homeless shelter at Spofford. The students discussed the practical amenities shelter residents would need like access to public transportation and what type of facility they would be creating given this was intended to be a temporary transitional shelter meant to help residents get back on their feet. Among the things they had to consider was would this be a single sex shelter, a family shelter or a combination of the two?

Oral Selkridge, DDC Director of Public Buildings, played the role of devil’s advocated. He asked if the venue was too nice would residents want to leave?

Kurpesh Patel, Deputy Director of Infrastructure at DDC urged students to think about the project from an architectural and engineering point of view and to focus first on how it should look inside. He encouraged students to consider the existing conditions, how the rooms were laid out and how could the space be modified? He asked if the students would want to consider breaking out walls to make the space bigger for common amenities like a shared kitchen and rest rooms.

ACE TEAM 8 student Pamela Bernal, noted that the group should “focus on remodeling the interior design of the building and focus on the recreational areas, cafeteria, and common spaces like the job readiness room where classes could be held for shelter residents.”

STEAM team leader Gemelli Briceño guided students through the research of each location using Google Maps. After weighing the pros and cons of each site, Team 8 selected the Spofford Detention Center as the location for their shelter. Students were then divided into five groups:

  1. Engineering
  2. Sustainability
  3. Design/Architecture
  4. Scheduling/Cost Estimation
  5. Writing/Research

Team 8 discussed their ideas in break out rooms. The engineering group discussed the condition of the building, the building layout and if they want to keep the existing rooms or knock out walls to create additional common areas. The sustainability group discussed water sustainability, the ventilation system, energy gardens, and the possibility of the shelter having its own energy grid. The Design/Architecture group discussed the zoning map of the building and details found on the map. And lastly, the Scheduling/Cost group discussed the potential cost of the buildout and the renovation.

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction

The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $14 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit