Saturday, February 14, 2009

Architects Use Charrette Process to Design Schools

A charrette is a design process used to gather input from a variety of stakeholders in the beginning stages of designing anything from a building to a whole neighborhood. Architects are increasingly involving stakeholders in actively designing schools.

One of the leaders in this direction is a firm called Concordia. Concordia is a community based architectural planning and design team that uses an integrative and participatory process that addresses physical, cultural, social, educational, organizational and economic assets and needs. They hold charrettes to bring in stakeholders to provide suggestions and ideas for the design of their school.

Steven Bingler (left) is the founder and President of Concordia. Concordia's projects include a range of building types including the Jackson Brewery Festival Marketplace, the New Orleans Aquarium of the Americas and the Henry Ford Academy. The Henry Ford Academy is a 400 student high school located within the Henry Ford Museum (right).

Concordia has undertaken projects focused principally on the planning and design of environments for living and learning. Bingler served as a special consultant to the Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education for policy related to the design of schools as centers of the community.

Concordia was a partner in the research and publication of Dollars and Sense: The Cost Effectiveness of Small Schools, a collaboration with the KnowledgeWorks Foundation (, Rural Schools and Community Trust, and Dr. Craig Howley of Ohio University. At the behest of the KnowledgeWorks Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Steven co-authored the second release, Dollars & Sense II: Lessons from Good, Cost-Effective Small Schools.

Click on the heading above to read a short article from New Horizon's for Learning on Bingler's approach to designing schools.

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