By: Allison Smith, Sustainable Building Associate
City of Fort Collins – Civic Campus Blocks 32 & 42
The City of Fort Collins desires to create a better civic center near Old Town Fort Collins on Blocks 32 & 42 (the blocks bordered by Maple, Mason, Laporte, and Meldrum streets). Fort Collins City Hall, the municipal court, City Manager’s office, and assorted city offices are housed in a hodge-podge of buildings on these blocks.
Brian Dunbar and I facilitated a 3-day Design Charrette with participants from RNL, [au]Workshop architects+urbanists, Logan Simpson Design Inc., Integral Group, Architectural Energy Corporation (AEC), Ambient Energy, City of Fort Collins, Adolfson & Peterson Construction, and other project stakeholders. The morning of September 23, more than fifty people gathered in a meeting room on Block 42. For the next ninety minutes, the participants listened to brief presentations on the process, context, vision plan, sustainable concepts, and site analysis. After a break, most stakeholders participated in a small group activity to establish Guiding Principles for the project wherein LENSES was used to identify Flows that influenced the Guiding Principles. Groups of eight reviewed the problem, held a dialogue, and brainstormed their vision for Fort Collin’s Civic Center. Each small group presented their ideas and visions to the full group.
This dynamic discussion centered on issues related to transportation, employees, citizens, and energy. Project stakeholders were drawn to principles surrounding the notion of World Class, Resilient Design, and having a Civic Heart. Through this process the stakeholder’s thoughts were incorporated into the Guiding Principles that framed the later design discussion.
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The Institute for the Built Environment facilitates design charrettes by making sure all participants and all perspectives are heard. The Guiding Principles went through several iterations until the whole group came to consensus on the language and intent of the principles. Furthermore, IBE began the charrette by establishing rules for the charrette process which frequently includes “listen well to others”, and “no cell phones”, but can also include issues specific to the project. Throughout the process the facilitation team encourages the participants to think systematically. Having representatives from each area of the design team, the construction team, and the user group helps to keep systems thinking active throughout the discussion. By the end of the charrette’s third day, City employees and the architectural team had narrowed the civic center block plans from 9 proposed schemes down to 2 plans. Without the charrette process, I believe it would have taken over a month to arrive at 2 plans that all of the stakeholders would be pleased with.
IBE will be facilitating charrettes in November and January – I am excited to continue honing my skills in this valuable tool in the Integrated Design Process (IDP). Charrettes can be an important tool to engage all stakeholders and expedite the design process. More can be learned about charrettes by looking at various projects on our IBE website and by visiting the National Charrette Institute’s website.