Why the Most Successful Master-Planned Communities Begin with Design Charrettes

Master-planned communities are designed to be all-inclusive. They encompass large areas of land that often include residential areas, recreational amenities, and business and retail units. Creating projects of such magnitude requires a lot of planning and collaboration, but many master-planned communities hit roadblocks during the early stages of development.

A community’s design and vision need to be well thought out, and all stakeholders need to be on board. These components are often discussed in the early stages of development and are critical to the success of a master-planned community. Design charrettes are a great tool that fosters collaboration and consensus – two key attributes that help keep projects on schedule.

Our team has seen the development of many master-planned communities, and Tom Woliver’s projects stand out for their ability to seamlessly progress through the early stages of development. I recently sat down with Tom, the founder of Oxland Advisors – a real estate development and consulting company, to discuss how design charrettes have benefited his projects and how developers can use the tool to their advantage.


What are Design Charrettes?

A design charrette is a collaborative design-focused meeting that allows everyone with hands on a project to get together to plan, brainstorm and capture the vision of a project. The team members who should attend these meetings can include everyone from planners and architects to builders, technology consultants, landscapers, and even ad agencies.

“The ideas you get out of charrettes are only as good as the team you bring to the table,” Tom said.

No topic is off-limits during these collaborative meetings. Topics typically discussed during a design Charrette for a master-planned community can range from the community’s land plan, which amenities to program, landscaping options, and marketing campaigns.

The process is a great tool for other large community-based projects like transit-oriented development plans and wide-scale redevelopment projects. It can also be applied to smaller design-based projects.


Benefits of Design Charrettes for Master-Planned Communities

There are numerous benefits to using design charrettes when designing master-planned communities. Most notably, the process can save time, money and improve project performance. The standard design process involves a lot of back and forth among stakeholders – making it easy to lose sight of a project’s vision. By participating in design charrettes you gather ideas and address concerns early to help minimize future issues that could throw a project off schedule.

“The return on investment for these sessions is huge,” Tom said. “You will be saving some much time on the front end and going into the thick of the project with a unified vision and blueprint for the development.”

Design charrettes are also a great opportunity for developers, engineers, and other stakeholders to engage community leaders in the development process – providing the opportunity to address concerns that otherwise may have delayed the project down the road. The process also helps break the ice among unacquainted stakeholders, foster trust, and create a more collaborative design process.

“You need to bring local stakeholders to the table so they can help the team build consensus around the project you are bringing to their community,” Tom said. “If you don’t, you run the risk of creating a mediocre development.”


Why This Matters for Developers

Developing a desirable master-planned community takes immense planning, but many of them get hung up on the design details discussed in the early stages of the project. Hosting a design charrette allows you to collaborate with the project’s planners, architects, engineers, community leaders, and other stakeholders to help create consensus on the project’s vision and goals. You will also build trust among stakeholders and create a collaborative environment that allows you to bring desirable developments to the community you are working with.

Our team is experienced with design charrettes and is always looking forward to participating in them with Tom and his team. As engineers, we know these meetings are going to result in better products and streamline the project process overall.

Want to learn more about design charrettes? Watch episode 13 of our podcast, Texas By Design. You can watch the episode on Youtube or listen wherever you get your podcasts. If you like the episode, be sure to subscribe so you can stay up to date on all the latest news and trends affecting the AEC industry.



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