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DEFINING THE PROBLEM: A major issue in Chicago is violence and crime. The numbers of murders, shooting incidents, and gang violence continue to rise, and crime rates and levels of violence remain high. 50%-60% of urban youth are exposed to neighborhood violence.

GATHERING INFORMATION: For inspiration I first researched three different case studies of youth centers with goals and needs similar to my own: The Hamilton Grange Teen Center in New York, US, the Gary Comer Youth Center in Chicago, US,  and  a Youth Centre Design in Lille, France. I interviewed a Chicago high school student and a Chicago social worker as potential clients. They encouraged me to include an art space in my design, which I hadn’t yet considered. Finally, I researched potential locations, finally finding a spacious lot in a neighborhood where violence is common and a teen center is most needed. 

VISION: I formulated the necessary elements to include in my design, and began to configure the layout and flow of the building in a bubble diagram. I used a mood board of materials, colors, elements, and inspirations collaborating to form the wanted aesthetic. 

RESPONSE: I began designing potential floor plans, planning the locations and sizes of rooms and spaces. I came up with three possible designs, and converted one of them (which I decided I would pursue)into a 3-dimensional Lego model. As a final step in my design, I used all of research and planning in my SketchUp model, where I decided on exact measurements, final materials, and additional elements.

FEEDBACK: In the comments below, please share:

What would you want to see at a teen center as a high school student? What interests would you want to be fulfilled?

Do you think this teen center would make a difference/positive impact in the lives of Chicago youth? 

How can you encourage your community to be involved?


SketchUp Program

Notability App

Google Earth,_Chicago




  1. Such a great idea Mimi!!

  2. Love your idea! Good job with your model it looks really cool.

  3. Good job! Love how you made your model out of legos. Super creative !!!

  4. Hi Mimi,
    I really loved looking at your project! Your schematic design drawings are amazing! I think that is is such a good idea to have a teen center as a high school student. And the interests that I would like to see at a teen center are exactly what you included, a gym, a place to study and a lounge area to hang out with friends.

  5. Hey Mimi,
    Your project idea is super cool! My final project for architecture is similar to yours and I loved to see the different approaches that you took. I really loved your sketches and you did an amazing job with your project.

  6. Hi Mimi, I really liked your project, and the idea behind it as well as the building you designed. I thought the building design was really good, and I especially liked the study which connected the two buildings. I also liked how you included your design ideas, to give us a sense of your thought process behind your design. Overall I think your project is really good.

  7. Hi Mimi! I really liked your project and I think this such a great idea. Your presentation was very clear and I really liked your LEGO model. Great job!

  8. Hi Mimi! I think your progression through the design process is very clear and apparent in this post. I specifically like the way you actually added an element to your project that was emphasized during the client interviews, the art studio. In addition, I liked how you added the different design ideas and the different geometry you were considering for the building. The lego building you added was a very creative way to make a 3d design. Great job!

  9. Hey Mimi!
    I really enjoyed your project. You explained it very well and organized all of your components well. My design had similar rooms to yours and the idea was to make an environment for those struggling with mental health or just need space to relax. It was nice to see how we had similar projects in the sense that we both wanted to create a safe space for youth. It was also interesting to see how you took your problem and made a similar solution. And, great job on your model!

  10. Hi Mimi! Your project looks really good!! Everything is well-written and thought out. I loved the how you added a lounge room, garden, and kitchen as relaxing and finding a safe space is very important for a teen, having a place outside is nice as in Chicago they might not have that opportunity to garden, etc, and including a kitchen could help with clubs and programs that could teach kids to cook and bake. I think this would also be a good place to have clubs, events like games, speaker visits, and interactive activities, and fundraisers. Nice work!

  11. Hey Mimi! This is a very important and extensive idea that you played out well. The models are well done and I enjoyed the lego recreation of your structure. Chicago is a very big and busy city and the inclusion of a garden makes it much more important and unique. The teens and young adults will have a place to calm down and just wait and think. This is such a great and inspiring idea.

  12. Hi Mimi! I really enjoyed reading your project and especially liked your intricate, well-done sketches. I think the idea of a teen center is a great way in which to provide youth with support and safety in Chicago. Personally, I have never seen a teen center and I think would be beneficial for those to create new friends as well as a place in which the youth are able to spend their time with each other. I think the structure would have a positive impact because of the support the youth would receive in Chicago.

  13. Hey Mimi! Your designs are really interesting to look at and work very well with your topic you targeted. As a high school student, I find this center to very appealing to me, and something I wish is nearby. I like how you connected all buildings together so effortlessly instead of making a giant square which is sometimes done without thinking. Great job!

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