New Urban Guild architectural charrettes are a three-step process that includes the charrette itself (the Charrette Phase,) the Design Development Phase, and the Construction Documents Phase. The Design Development Phase and the Construction Documents phase are optional but highly recommended. Guild architectural charrettes usually focus on one or more of the following three categories according to the needs of the development:

Commercial & Civic Design

   Having your civic and commercial buildings properly designed is as important to a town as having a properly-designed front entry is to a house. These buildings set the tone for everything that comes later.

Custom Residential Design

   Custom Residential Design makes the most sense for projects where a new or significantly modified language of architecture needs to be developed, and/or where new floor plans need to be developed.

Plan-Based Residential Design

   Plan-Based Residential Design works best where existing architectural languages (styles) are used, and where existing plans are re-elevated to match the style(s) of the development. The Guild brings in members with significant stock plan portfolios with the intent of using existing floor plans with new elevations designed at the charrette for the intended architectural range of the development.


Charrette Team

   The Guild, upon determining the Developer’s needs, selects architects and designers from the Guild that are best suited to the Developer’s particular combination of requirements, including timing. Some of the Guild members we propose for the work will not be locally licensed architects. These individuals will be brought in with the expectation that they will either work on projects that do not require licensed architects (such as single-family homes) or team up with one of your locally-licensed architects and hand the job off to the locally-licensed architect at an appropriate point. In other words, all work requiring the seal of a licensed architect will be performed by a locally-licensed architect.

Architectural Precedent Photography

   Sometimes, the architectural precedent that will be used to define the character of the place is local, and can be toured by all designers on the first day of the charrette. Often, however, it is too remote for a physical tour. Alys Beach, for example, is a combination of the architecture of Bermuda and that of Antigua Guatemala. In such cases, the most efficient way of getting the architects acquainted with the architecture is to photograph it beforehand. Steve Mouzon has done this numerous times, and has a rigorous system of shooting that documents all elements of the architecture that the designers are likely to reference. Photoshoots should be scheduled enough in advance of the charrette to allow for cataloguing the images before the charrette.

The Charrette

The First Day

   The first day of the charrette begins with a development mission statement by the Developer, a planning overview, and an address by Steve concerning the architecture. Next, we tour the site. If there is strong local architectural precedent that we plan to incorporate into our work, we tour that, too. The remainder of the day is spent discussing the particulars of the architectural language so that we all have a clear understanding of the desired architectural direction. This is a very important meeting, because we are not just getting everyone on the same page, but are also refining the direction of the architecture in ways that are not predictable prior to the charrette. It is possible that we might get some drawing done on the first day, but it is more important to spend time establishing the architecture early so as to be more efficient with design work later.

Design Days

   Day 2 is the first design day. The Development Team and their consultants (especially market consultants) will set up for ongoing critiques at the beginning of the afternoon design session. The presentation area for the critiques should be located within the same room as the studio space so that everyone else who is designing can hear the critiques as they progress.

The Last Day

   The last day includes a morning design session and final presentation in the afternoon. The Developer may elect either to have designers complete revisions suggested earlier or work on new designs. The final deliverables of the charrette will be copies of the designers’ drawings. The designers retain the originals of their work.

Design Development Phase

   It is highly recommended that the Developer continue with the Design Development Phase once the Charrette is complete. It would be possible, of course, to have a single architect develop the designs produced at the Charrette, but having multiple hands develop the designs is a clear advantage. It is the aura of authenticity that encourages people to spend more money on a place. 

Construction Documents Phase

   We recommend that the Developer continue with the Construction Documents Phase once the Design Development Phase is complete. A significant amount of authenticity will have been established by using multiple designers to this point, but full authenticity occurs when Construction Documents are completed by multiple hands. Please also note that using multiple firms to produce Construction Documents will almost certainly save time because it spreads the workload.

© New Urban Guild 2018