News / 4.4.18

Fort Competition Teaches Kids About Architecture, Design

Refortify hosted its fifth-annual fort-building event with Breakthrough afterschool students

Breakthrough’s youth were back in action with Refortify volunteers last week, learning design and architecture skills while building their dream forts.

For five weeks, kids between the ages of 7 and 11 were encouraged to brainstorm ideas, research and come up with a concept, culminating in the design of their own fort. Working with local professional design teams, they used donated clothing, bedding and building materials to bring their visions to fruition.

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Samples of some of the completed forts.

This year’s “Forts and Fabrics for a Cause” was held at the Chicago Design Museum in Block 37, 108 N. State St. from March 27-29. The first day was assigned as “Build Day,” followed by “Play Day,” where the termed “little architects” were invited to experience and enjoy their forts. An industry fundraiser showcasing all of the creations was held on “View Day,” the last hurrah of the three-day event. All of the money and materials collected was donated to Breakthrough, which is a community center and shelter in Garfield Park, on behalf of the participants.

Epstein sponsored a fort, with Jenn Pisano serving as a volunteer architect. Jake Effinger, our senior design engineer, was a fort judge. Additionally, Epstein Community Foundation (ECF), a charity founded by Epstein employees aimed at developing partnerships with communities, was a Mansion Sponsor for the event.

Two of the "little architects" Epstein worked with.

Jenn assisted on a project titled “The Fun Spot,” conceptualized and built by three girls, Jada, Alayah and Marcala. According to their design, the fort was to include a dance floor, a snack table -- complete with PB&J, naturally -- a ball pit, a designated “cozy” corner, and their names shining in lights. Who wouldn’t want to hang out there?

During Build Day, the girls helped Jenn construct a paper chain to hang throughout the ceiling, design a sign featuring their initials and organize the snack table.

The team hard at work to bring The Fun Spot, also known as "JAM," to life!

Other forts included “Purple Diamond,” “Underwater Basket,” “Baller House,” and the ever-elusive “Men Only.” A common theme among most of the little architect’s concepts? Basketball. While March Madness comes but once a year, a home with an indoor court provides hoop action all year long!

The event allowed participating kids to not only see their designs develop from concept to creation, but also to learn about possible career opportunities within the art and design fields.

This was Refortify’s fifth event with Breakthrough.