During his 29-year career in the real estate development and construction industries, Sandy Wiggins has worked with project teams through the development, design and construction of projects totaling almost $1Bn. In November 2001, he cofounded the Delaware Valley Green Building Council, an organization devoted to changing the way these industries work in order to regenerate the natural environment and leverage the built environment to improve human health and productivity. In January 2004, he founded Consilience, LLC, a consulting and development company with a mission to build environmentally, socially and economically sustainable communities by bringing together the principles of Green Building with other emerging development strategies that facilitate regeneration of the natural environment, improved health and increased social equity.
Sandy's standard mode of design involves the Charrette. In the following entry, he describes the Charrette process.
Dynamic Planning, Charrettes and Integrative Design
Planning is a three-step process for leveraging positive change and
maximizing the sustainability of public and private planning efforts.
It provides a non-linear, collaborative and facilitated framework for
solving complex design problems. There are three distinct phases to
Dynamic Planning. Phase one is the Discovery phase which sets the
stage for a successful process by insuring that all of the right people
and all of the right information are present in the charrette
environment. The Charrette itself is an intense, collaborative,
multi-day design effort involving all of the key project stakeholders.
The Implementation Phase builds on the trajectory of the Charrette and
Integrative Design is a collaborative effort which involves all of the project consultants and key stakeholders in a continuous and creative feedback loop in order to maximize efficiencies by integrating design decisions across disciplines and developing resource effective “solution multipliers”. The process is a proven method for developing highly sustainable projects at competitive market costs. Good Integrative Design relies heavily on Dynamic Planning to maximize the cross fertilization of ideas.
The keys to a successful Dynamic Planning Process and Integrative Design Charrette are:
The objective of the charrette is production of a highly sustainable, well integrated, and long-lived plan with the widest possible consensus. Success depends on getting all of the right people to show up and on providing them with all of the right information.
All interested parties must be involved from the beginning. Having contributed to the planning, participants are in a position both to understand and support a project's rationale.
A multi-disciplinary team method results in decisions that are realistic every step of the way. The cross-functional process eliminates the need for rework because the design work continually reflects the wisdom of each specialty.
Compress Work Sessions
The Charrette itself, usually lasting three to seven days (for building and development design projects), is a series of meetings and design sessions that would traditionally take months to complete. This time compression facilitates creative problem solving by accelerating decision-making and reducing unconstructive negotiation tactics. It also encourages people to abandon their usual working patterns and “think outside of the box.”
Communicate in Short Feedback Loops
During the Charrette, design ideas are created based upon a “public” vision, and presented within hours for further review, critique, and refinement. Regular stakeholder input and reviews quickly build trust in the process and foster true understanding and support of the product.
Study the Details and the Whole
Lasting agreement is based on a fully informed dialogue, which can only be accomplished by looking at the details and the big picture concurrently. Studies at these two scales also inform each other and reduce the likelihood that a fatal flaw will be overlooked in the plan.
Confirm Progress Through Measuring Outcomes
By measuring progress based upon agreed upon desired outcomes, you ensure the transparency of the process and make it easy for people to see that the project is being implemented as planned.
Produce a Feasible Plan
The charrette differs from other types of development workshops and public engagement because its objective is to create a feasible plan. This means that every design decision point must be fully informed by all relevant disciplines.
Use Design to Achieve a Shared Vision and Create Holistic Solutions
Design is a powerful tool for establishing a shared vision. Visual representations illustrate the complexity of the problem and can be used to resolve conflict by proposing previously unexplored solutions that represent win/win outcomes.
Include a Multi-Day Charrette
Most charrettes require between three and seven days, allowing for a minimum of three feedback loops. The more difficult the problem or project, the longer the charrette.
Hold the Charrette Onsite
Working on site fosters the charrette team's understanding of local values and traditions and provides the necessary easy access to stakeholders and information. The charrette studio should be located in a place where it is easily accessible to all stakeholders and where the designers have quick access to the project site.
The major steps in the Dynamic Planning process, including Integrative Design, are:
1. Research, Education & Charrette Preparation
1.1. Project Set Up and Organization
1.2. Stakeholder Involvement Plan
1.3. Base Information
1.5. Charrette Logistics
2.1. Organization, Education, Vision
2.2. Alternative Concepts Development
2.3. Preferred plan synthesis
2.4. Plan Development
2.5. Production and Presentation
2.6. Charrette Work Product and Publication
3. Plan Implementation
3.1. Information and Relationship Strategy
3.2. Product Refinement
3.3. Design Finalization and Presentation