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A Building Blitz to Make a Difference

Monday, June 16, 2014

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SWAT teams of painters, contractors, engineers, designers, suppliers and other construction professionals are primed to put their skills into service for poor families in Chicago.

Teams are gathering gear and polishing plans for their fourth annual AEC Cares community building project on the eve of AIA’s National Convention.

This year, the industry's volunteer coalition will renovate a 40,000-square-foot HeadStart child development center on Chicago's South Side. The center serves more than 120 of Chicago's neediest children, ages six weeks to five years, and their families.

projectDenver projectChicago
Images: AEC Cares

ProjectChicago will bring together more than 150 volunteers from the AEC community to renovate a vacant elementary school for low-income children and families. The building blitz is June 25, the day before AIA's National Convention.

The renovation, called projectChicago, will involve gutting, painting, cleaning and improving the vacant elementary school.

Planning has been underway for months. The actual building blitz will take place June 25, the day before the American Institute of Architects opens its three-day annual conference in Chicago. The theme this year: "Design with Purpose."

"AEC Cares is about linking architecture and construction professionals to the communities where we work," the organization says.

Help Needed

ProjectChicago is still seeking sponsors, donations, volunteers and public support to fill its lengthy wish list. The site's many needs include paint and painting supplies, light fixtures, carpet, cabinetry and countertops, indoor and outdoor playground equipment, and more. Learn more on the AEC Cares' Facebook page.

AECCaresBrochure

Sponsors and donations are still needed for projectChicago.

Corporate sponsors of projectChicago include USG Corp.; Troutman Sanders LLP; The Vinyl Institute; Panolam Surface Systems; Bluewolf; Wiley; Kawneer; Holcim; Kompan; MechoSystems; and MortarNet Solutions. Project team members have stepped forward from Gensler; Muller+Muller; FH Paschen; SMNG; and Latent Design.

Sponsor Sherwin-Williams has donated more than 100 gallons of paint, 25 volunteers, and cash to the effort.

In addition, through an arrangement with Amazon.com, Amazon Smile will donate five percent of purchases made through that site to AEC Cares. (The donation adds no cost to the purchase.)

From NOLA to Denver

This is the fourth year of AEC Cares' pre-AIA building blitz.

In 2011, projectNOLA rebuilt five houses that had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina. In 2012, more than 100 projectDC volunteers transformed a dilapidated two-story house in Washington, DC, into a residence for homeless youths.

In 2013, more than 150 projectDenver volunteers transformed a converted 75-year-old hospital into clean, safe, sound, attractive transitional housing for vulnerable populations. Teams tackled the facility inside and out, from new paint and flooring, to a cafeteria renovation, to new landscaping, and new lighting.

projectDC

In 2012, AEC Cares' projectDC transformed a blighted house into a shelter for homeless youths.

"When it's bright, nasty lighting like this, it's not a soothing place for them to heal," Emily Sinclair, the project's interior designer, told the Denver Post.

"It was in such desperate need of a face-lift and actually making it a healing place for them."

More than 50 companies participated in the Denver blitz and about $100,000 in cash and materials was donated.

The Chicago project will partner AEC Cares with Metropolitan Family Services.

Making it Happen

The project begins each year with Reed reaching out to the AEC community in that year's AIA convention city.

Jeana Krause projectDenver

ProjectDenver project manager Jeana Krause (left), of Layton Construction, called the experience "a true gift."

From there, a pro bono design team is created that includes contractors and project managers. Hanley Wood helms the logistics, while Reed manages fundraising and event coordination.

"The collaboration is a holistic process because everyone involved brings something to the project," a Reed spokeswoman said.

Jeana Krause, of Layton Construction, said projectDenver had begun as an obligation for her, but ended as a gift of friendship, experience and new connections. Krause was project manager for the build.

Chicago architect Brandy Koch has worked on several AEC Cares projects and will be the design team's lead architect and project manager at projectChicago.

Koch says the blitz builds are the best part of the AIA Convention.

The projects get her “excited about the profession and what we can do,” she says in a blog post on lifeofanarchitect.com.

Architects don’t just do “fancy and glitzy,” she adds. "[We can] put our work where it makes a difference.”

   

Tagged categories: American Institute of Architects (AIA); Architects; Construction; Contractors; Designers; Engineers; General contractors; Hanley-Wood; Painting Contractor; Project Management; Reed Construction Data; Renovation; Sherwin-Williams

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