The ACE Mentorship is a program that partners high school students with professionals in the architecture, construction, and engineering fields to explore career possibilities and to encourage interest in working in the A/C/E fields. Every year, the students in the program dive into designing solutions for an existing local project under the guidance of their mentors. They work through the project in the same way that design professionals work in the “real world.” 

Despite the official ACE Baltimore program being called off just a few meetings into the Spring 2020 semester, due to COVID19, Hord Coplan Macht mentors gladly continued the program virtually at the request of a few students. 

Three students from Eastern Tech Magnet High School in Baltimore, Maryland accepted the new challenge to work exclusively virtually. HCM mentors adapted the original ACE Baltimore RFP to focus solely on the exterior façade of the new UMMC Comprehensive Cancer Center. They taught the group of students about site studies, neighborhood context, materials, drawing inspiration from nature, and biophilic design principals. The students met online with their mentors 1-2 times per week to review progress with Zoom annotation and markups and to share precedent images. The students took ownership of their façade design, modeling in Inventor, an AutoCAD software they use in their engineering classes at Eastern Tech. In the final week of the mentorship, they compiled their process and work into a final presentation.   

The students named their project EMERG: Environment Methods that Evoke Resilient Growth. 

Seeking inspiration from our aquatic driven community in Baltimore, we aimed to create a modern interpretation of the medical care center that emerges from conventional designs. By utilizing materialistic duality and environmental forms, our external facade evokes tranquility and a sense of hydrophilia that allows our cancer patients to combat their illness with resilience. 

Traditionally the students end the ACE program with a final presentation night, with all participating schools, teams, mentors, families and friends in attendance. In order to recognize the students’ accomplishments and hard work, our mentors arranged for a live Zoom critique with a group of HCM employees — guest jurors, ACE mentors, and others. This was the first time our ACE students received live feedback from professionals, similar to a formal collegiate/professional design critique. The students thoughtfully responded to comments and feedback, which led to an engaging conversation for all. 

One student commented, “The final presentation was my favorite part of the program. Being able to express our design idea to a set of professionals and even receiving feedback from their perspectives were very eye-opening and have increased my understanding of design. I can’t wait to come back stronger the following ACE year.”  

Through partnerships with ACE and local schools, Hord Coplan Macht is honored to help support and inspire the next generation of architects and design professionals. 

Check out the video below to see a montage of the students’ final presentation.

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