How did 19 High School Students Design a 60-Floor, Mixed-Use Tower in Center City, Philadelphia?

And how was it one of the “Most Innovative Hands-on Projects,” as recognized by the White House’s US2020 STEM Mentoring Awards Program?

Certainly, support from the students’ personal lives, accessibility through the ACE Mentor Program, and seven A/E/C professionals dedicating their free time to engage young minds helped. Half a year of team-building with hands-on exercises, interactive brainstorm sessions, extensive guidance on technical process, and successfully unleashing the creative prowess within the high school seniors paved the way to the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The recognized project, Comcast Tower II (Re-imagined), was the brainchild of 19 students (“ACE Team 6”) from G.W. Carver High School of Engineering & Science in North Philadelphia. During 15 sessions over the course of six months, mentors from KSS, Gilbane, Keast & Hood, and Schrader Group exposed students to a broad spectrum of design-related issues.

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Visualization of building design (massing) exercisesACE students brainstormed how to program the space


For years, KSS employees have committed their time to mentoring with ACE. To support ACE’s mission of engaging, exciting, and enlightening students to pursue careers in architecture, engineering, and construction, KSS employees serve as practicing professionals to inspire the new generation. Being part of the ACE Mentor Program is one of KSS’s avenues to creating community impact, supporting young professional growth, and spreading the passion of architecture (and the entire A/E/C industry). Last year’s inspiration Team 6 mentors included Christina Marconi, Jordan Mrazik, and Petar Mattioni from KSS’s Philadelphia office.