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Joint DDC/SCA ACE Mentor Team Proposes New Internation Gastronomic Center at Hudson Yards

DDC: Shoshana Khan, 718-391-1251,

(Long Island, NY – June 4, 2020) A proposal for a national design competition by the joint NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC)/NYC School Construction Authority (SCA) ACE Mentor team would create an international gastronomic education center at Hudson Yards in Manhattan featuring top chefs from around the world in an attractive and environmentally sustainable complex. There are 20 public high school students from Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island on this year’s DDC/SCA ACE Mentor Team.

Students from DDC/SCA ACE Mentor Team 8 develops a design for the 6th floor of the main building of Pangaea, an international culinary education center they proposed to be built near Hudson Yards

The DDC/SCA team’s proposal, entitled “Pangaea,” would host top culinary experts from around the world, promoting gastronomic education within one unique and dynamic space. It was presented by the team virtually as part of the Gastronomic Center challenge of the Construction Industry Round Table’s Annual National Design & Construction Competition. Overall, 25 ACE Mentor teams from around the country chose to participate in the Gastronomic Center part of the competition. 

“We’re very proud of the team, which worked hard to develop a creative and highly detailed technical proposal that meets the exacting requirements of the contest,” said Lorraine Grillo, who leads both agencies as Commissioner of the NYC Department of Design and Construction and President and CEO of the NYC School Construction Authority. “They began the project in January and remained on track even when distancing constraints became required in March.”

“Our students were able to successfully navigate the challenges of virtual learning,” said Lee Llambelis, DDC’s Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships and STEAM Initiatives. “They demonstrated both dedication and flexibility. We are incredibly proud of Team 8 and their dedicated mentors from DDC, SCA and TC Electric. They worked hard to envision a creative and utilitarian community asset. Their project is innovative and practical. Our wonderful mentors have provided our students with a unique learning experience that will open the doors to opportunities in the ACE industries.”

“Working collaboratively, the inspired students embodied the intent of the design challenge,” said Ruby Saake, SCA’s Senior Management Specialist for Business Development. “They created an integrated culinary building design and culture. While working together, guided by their enthusiastic professional mentors, the students expanded their understanding of the importance of community and the building environment. We appreciate the engagement, passion and commitment that the students and mentors brought to this design challenge.”

“ACE GNY Team 8 was led by dedicated mentors who made sure each and every student understood the basic A-C-E concepts through various presentations and visits from guest speakers,” said Sue Veres Royal, Executive Director, ACE Mentor Program of Greater NY. “Team 8 took on the challenge of participating in the 2020 CIRT National Design & Construction Competition, structuring their sessions at an accelerated pace to meet the competition's deadline. This was no small feat, as student and mentors had to work diligently into March in order to complete and submit their project. The mentors and students of Team 8 persevered throughout hurdles this year, transitioning from in-person to virtual sessions, to practicing and successfully completing a virtual final presentation of their project. We are very proud of ACE GNY Team 8's work this year and all they have accomplished!”

The ACE Mentor Program was designed to “engage, excite and enlighten high school students to pursue careers in architecture, engineering and construction through mentoring and to support their continued advancement in the industry.”

For the national competition, teams were required to describe challenges they faced when choosing the project; the design process through writing and visuals, including budgets, timelines and workflow; how their chosen approach was innovative, realistic and different from other approaches; social, ecological and beneficial qualities of their design solution; and what they learned from the competition. A total of 52 ACE Mentor teams submitted for the three challenges that were part of the competition this year.

The resilient and energy-efficient Pangaea center would be located near Manhattan’s Hudson Yards and Jacob Javits Center and would run through the High Line, a location that nearly eight million people visit annually. A main building that would overlook a geodesic dome would contain classrooms, test kitchens, a multi-media library, training rooms, food laboratories, terrace garden areas, a gift shop, a forum/exhibition area and a food market. The dome would have a circular turfed lawn and would open up to a decorated picnic area.

A 3D model of the gastronomic center “Pangaea” proposed for Hudson Yards by the DDC/SCA ACE Mentor Team 8

To preserve energy, the center would have photovoltaic glass panels and a biomethane generator powered by food waste and LED lights. To conserve water, a greywater system would be installed along with low-flow plumbing fixtures, a rainwater-harvesting rooftop tank and green roof absorption for excess water runoff. Economically friendly materials would be chosen for construction and the main building would feature recycled glass windows, furniture made from recycled materials and biodegradable adhesives. Single-use plastic would be prohibited.

Since Pangaea would be located near the Hudson River, to prevent potential water damage it would be constructed with flood-resistant materials, and HVAC and electrical systems would be elevated with fuel tanks anchored.

The students estimated the cost of creating the property on top of a 140,000-square-foot area would be just over $180 million, with anticipated funding from the City, donations and private investments. An expected $11.3 million in annual revenue would be generated through advertising, corporate sponsoring, interactive food stations and cooking courses. The center would take approximately 2.25 years to build.

Founded in 1994 by a group of leading architects, contractors and engineers in New York City, the ACE Mentor Program has served over 65,000 students nationwide and over 10,000 students in New York alone. Today more than 9,000 students and 3,600 mentors participate in ACE each year in 37 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Three-quarters of ACE students come from minority and underserved communities.

DDC’s partnership with SCA and ACE Mentor is organized under the DDC’s STEAM education initiative, established in 2014 as a pipeline for City students to career fields related to science, technology, engineering, art/architecture and mathematics.

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction

The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $14 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit