Tips for successful charrette design and planning

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8 Tips for a Successful Charrette

A charrette creates an environment of collaboration and consensus to develop an approved land development program that will help quicken the design process and gain faster approvals for entitlements. As an alternative to long-range city planning, this process can be used successfully for private projects to gain public programming consensus.

The following tips share how facilitators can execute a great charrette:

1)   Create participant variety.
Include advocates, opponents, consultants, and regulatory officials, but do not exceed more than about 15 to 30 participants.

2)   Do pre-charrette research.
Determine hidden agendas and pre-conceived ideas. Know the local history. Provide participants with a list of issues ahead of time.

3)   Provide the facts.
Be prepared with important data regarding zoning, environmental issues, infrastructure, traffic, the market, competition, demographics, et cetera. Present reference maps and supporting graphics.

4)   Encourage comparative thinking.
Provide an audio/visual presentation of relevant projects from around the country to get the creative juices flowing. Follow the show with images of the subject site.

5)   Consider wild ideas.
Evaluate all ideas. No concept is too crazy. Go down the list of facts specific to the site, and put ideas in graphic form. Engage all participants for their point of view! Do this activity in the morning. The facilitator must be motivated and knowledgeable—and good at sketching.

6)   Work to the deadline.
Summarize the program that would include all points of view, and determine a solution that is the best compromise. Listen.

7)  Draw fast!
Facilitator and consultants create graphic design(s) for review by participants within one or two days at most. The master plan should reflect and/or acknowledge all points of view—both the “whys” and “why nots.”

8)  Present the solution.
Frame the design in terms of comments from all participants. Listen to valid criticism, and revise the plan on the spot with new ideas.

Following the guidelines presented above will get your program on the fast track toward project completion.

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