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Local Teens' Vision of 'Library of Future' Sends Them to National Design Competition in D.C.

Maya Ram (Gunn High School), Mark Smeets (Palo Alto High School), Julia Burns (Mountain View High School), and Brian Hill (Gunn High School) are members of ACE Mentor San Francisco Bay Area, Peninsula One Team.

The students from left to right are Julia Burns, Maya Ram, Brian Hill, and Mark Smeets.
The students from left to right are Julia Burns, Maya Ram, Brian Hill, and Mark Smeets.

Four high school students from Palo Alto and Mountain View are in Washington D.C. this week presenting their design in a national competition organized by the Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT) and the Architecture, Construction, Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program of America.

Maya Ram (Gunn High School), Mark Smeets (Palo Alto High School), Julia Burns (Mountain View High School), and Brian Hill (Gunn High School) are members of  ACE Mentor San Francisco Bay Area, Peninsula One Team, led by Mike Nelson and Peter Jenkins of Skanska USA and Sally Darby of Swinerton.

The students’ vision of the library of the future is one of three national finalists from 44 entries. 

 “We could not be more proud of our students. They put an amazing amount of effort to come up with innovative solutions to their design challenges,” says Mike Nelson, project executive and pre-construction manager at Skanska. 

“ACE is a vital part of the construction industry’s future and helping the next generation of architects, contractors, and engineers work together and dream big is a privilege and a passion.”

 Technology and community space are central themes to the students' vision of the library of the future. Not simply a place to hold books, this library encourages communal interaction with substantial space set aside for shared workspaces, private meeting rooms, and a technology lab with laptops, smart boards, and e-reader checkouts. 

Visitors can use their smart phone to check out books, and the students envision an app that informs patrons when a book is due, allows them to search and reserve available books and meeting rooms, contacts a librarian for help, and recommends books based on prior checkouts.

 Working collaboratively, these students kept sustainability top of mind. Design features include bike rental, waterless urinals, occupancy sensors for lighting control, natural ventilation, and windows that can cut 20% of heating and 25% of electric costs. Instead of new construction, the students identified the former Borders book store located on University Avenue in Palo Alto as a viable location for the library of the future.

 About the ACE Mentor Program

The ACE Mentor Program was founded in 1995 by the principals of leading design and construction firms. Its mission is to engage, excite and enlighten high school students to careers in the integrated construction industry through mentoring; and, provide a means for their continued advancement in the industry through scholarships and grants. ACE’s 66 affiliates covering 35 states and over 200 cities, organize 2,500 volunteer mentors to deliver the program to over 8,000 students. Since its founding, ACE has awarded $14 million in scholarships. 

For further information, visit www.acementor.org

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