Thursday, August 7, 2008

What is a charrette? Frequently Asked Questions

As Silver Spring plans a "charrette" for the new Silver Spring Library, here is some general information about "Charrettes." It's from the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (known as M-NCPPC, or the Commission) website set up to explain and describe the process for developing SilverPlace.

Frequently Asked Questions: Information about the SilverPlace Charette

What is a charrette?

In urban planning, a design charrette is a collaborative effort between all the stakeholders in a particular community to create a unified vision for a development project. In the case of SilverPlace, the stakeholders are the residents, local businesses, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (known as M-NCPPC, or the Commission), the developers and other civic groups and public officials. The charrette is led by a team of experts including urban planners, architects, engineers, landscape architects and traffic engineers.

The most important component of successful charrettes is involvement from all interested parties. It is vital to receive input and ideas.

What is the process?

The first step is for the charrette team to establish the basic requirements for the site – in essence, the goals and guiding principles for the development. Then, the team will encourage input at a series of open workshops and meetings.

What happens during these meetings and workshops?

Using the recent SilverPlace charrette as a model, there is a public kickoff meeting where everyone is welcome. Charrette team members will lay out what they know about the site (size, requirements, constraints, etc). Stakeholders are welcome to begin expressing their ideas.

Over the next two days, the charrette team will sketch out a variety of options for the site, derived from what they gathered at the public input sessions. The public is welcome to drop in during these work sessions, talk to the design team and view the work in progress. In the evenings, the team will present the results of their work to the stakeholders, seeking feedback.

On the third day, the charrette team will prepare the final charrette presentation. So that they can remain focused, this meeting will include the designers only.

On the final day (in this model, the charrette team will make a final presentation to the public.

About 30 – 60 days later, the design team will release a formal report with drawings of the proposed development.

How will people learn about the charrette?

In the case of SilverPlace, the charrette team will send postcards to a broad list of area residences and businesses. Additional notice to businesses will come through the Chamber of Commerce. The team has sent announcements and news releases to the media, and placed an ad in a local newspaper.

Who got the announcement flyer?

The Commission mailed announcements widely about the pre-charrette meeting to its mailing list. Those were followed up with emails to more than 20 civic associations.

Will computer-aided design be among the resources available during the charrette?

We will use some, but the architects will mostly hand sketch a variety of designs based on the changing ideas and input from the stakeholders at the charrette. The architects will do 'pin ups' of the designs as they evolve over the course of the week for all to review.

How will you interpret input from non-planners?

The charrette leader will work hard to solicit the input of residents and other stakeholders and incorporate these ideas into collaborative designs during the charrette process..

M-NCPPC has developed a separate website for SilverPlace. Please visit

No comments: