July 6th, 2021
The ACE Mentor Program's Park in a Truck Initiative

The first ever design-build project for ACE Mentor Program, the Park in a Truck project engaged Philadelphia-area students about design and construction processes while advocating for their own neighborhoods. Learn more as WRT's ACE Mentors, Breanna Sheeler and Suvir Hira, reflect on their experiences below. 

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What was new about the ACE Mentor Program this year? 

Suvir: For the first time, students not only designed their own projects, but actually built them as well. [This] tactile nature of construction made it real and made for a full-on experience for students. I tell my students: it’s like a 3D experience versus a 4D experience.  

What makes these types of projects important? 

Suvir: This wasn’t just WRT, it was so many entities, and I think that’s exactly what architecture is about. It’s always a team, and one thing I tell my students is that when you build a building, it’s not just done by one person. We’re all working on one project, but we’re not the sole person working on that project. Seeing it happen at ACE is so exciting. The students have already grown so much just through collaborating with different entities and meeting different people. 

Breanna: It’s a great chance for us to collaborate with people from different backgrounds – whether it’s clients and the users but also various people from the entities we work with to make our projects possible. It’s not an individual working by their lonesome on a project that no one else sees. [Students] engage with other people to make it happen and then there are also people who will be engaging with that project for, hopefully, many, many years.   

What does this mean for the future of program? 

Breanna: We’ve learned a lot from this year. We’re hoping to grow, do more, have a bigger impact and have a more engaging, educational, impactful project for [students] as well.