City of Fort Collins – Civic Campus Blocks 32 & 42

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. 

Key Issue Identification

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.

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New CSU Research Study: The Impact of Charrettes on LEED Certification

Author:  Michael Knox, Graduate Student in the Department of Construction Management at CSU

Charrettes have gained in popularity in recent years as a tool to increase collaboration and communication among building stakeholders, and to efficiently focus the time and attention of design team members in order to achieve greater synergy and sustainability.  However, little research exists documenting outcomes of the charrette process and its role in the overall success of sustainable building projects. To learn more about this relationship, we conducted a research study surveying LEED-NC 2009 project contacts and asked what characteristics were present during the charrette process.

Charrettes

The study’s results showed that implementing charrettes in LEED projects increased the amount of points a project received by 7 on average compared to projects that did not use charrettes. 

In addition to this finding, three separate characteristics were found to negatively impact the the number of LEED points a building received. We consider these three characteristics constraining factors, since they limit what happens during a charrette. The characteristics which were found to negatively impact LEED achievement included:

  • using a charrette as a LEED strategy or checklist meeting,
  • having a defined structured agenda, and
  • having pre-defined project goals before the charrettes take place.

Results of the study suggest the charrette process has the potential to provide significant benefits, regardless of what characteristics are implemented.  But to fully realize these benefits, a charrette should not include factors that limit a group’s ability to produce creative ideas, goals and innovative solutions. Thus, charrettes are best conducted to encourage open-ended dialogue, brainstorming and creative solutions to problems as vetted thoroughly and rapidly among many people with interdisciplinary backgrounds.

This research project was conducted as part of the Masters thesis of Michael Knox, graduate student in the department of Construction Management at Colorado State University.  Michael’s thesis committee included, Caroline Clevenger, Ph.D., Brian Dunbar, and Katharine Leigh, Ph.D.  To learn more about this research project, please download the full research document here. You can also contact the author on LinkedIn.