About two weeks back, I had my first day with Brown Design Studio. As most expect their first day to be walking into an office setting, getting settled into their desk and learning the basics of how to do things-mine went differently.
I had the luxury of being invited to a charrette. With no idea what a charrette was, the definition I googled for it gave me the understanding that there was going to be a group of us finding solutions to a specific problem. Alright, so what problem? Who was going to be there? My immediate visualization of how this charrette was going to unfold, simply went to believing that it would be primarily composed of successful architects.
Surely, it made me nervous to think I would be the only one there, that would be looking at everyone as if they were speaking a different language while asking me questions that pertained to something I have no knowledge on. Luckily, it ended up being a mixed crowd. Even with little to no-idea as to what was going to be discussed and possibly resolved, I had my questions and doubts in regards to there being a positive outcome. There stood, a few architects, a teacher, urbanists, and traffic engineers. Generally, they all have things in common, but everyone there thought differently.
We all stood there and got the announcement as to what this problem was. Not necessarily a problem, more so a project, with the potential of being great. We were given our location as to where the project would take place- just west of the city, untouched land, and what the project was. Groups were organized, and everyone started planning.
Being the newbie, I stuck with the only person I knew there- Eric Brown, my boss. Simply out of knowledge that he knew this was my first time ever being apart of this kind of process. We were given a map, tracing paper, and markers and immediately questions, ideas, and facts were being delivered from everyone in the group. It allowed for us to create a strong foundation for designing a place with input from a lot of diverse people . Having the chance to engage with my group in putting in my $0.02, I was able to have some impact. However, the one with the most optimum ideas, was Eric. Ideally, this project was to be an addition to the city, that it needs, but the challenge was to maintain the character of Savannah.
While observing the way everyone worked, and how everyone agreed with the plan that Eric had envisioned. I was not only learning the ropes of urban design, but how Brown Design operates. Brown Design uses the charrette process in both public and private work to bring people and ideas together. This can be a client team or a public neighborhood but the process makes design more inclusive for all and helps build solid relationships.