16 May 2012

5 strategies for charrettes in the face of smaller budgets

Everyone is feeling it. With the new economy comes smaller budgets. Is it even possible to conduct a multiple-day charrette these days? The answer is yes, but it takes some creative resource management. Here are five strategies for keeping costs down by leveraging local resources. This approach not only cuts down on travel expenses and carbon footprints but also serves to strengthen the capacity of a community to conduct its own planning.

  • First, find ways to save money before your charrette. Pre-charrette studies can quickly eat up a budget. Find local consultants who know the current conditions and can provide solid advice without doing an expensive study. Some requirements, such as an EIS, do call for a full-blown studies, however, a capable consultant can gather the necessary data and provide useful guidance at the charrette at a lower cost.
  • Hire local consultants to provide services not provided by staff. For specialties such as transit planning or retail design you may have to seek outside experts. Be sure outside consultants are grounded by local staff or community members
  • Use staff, perhaps in collaboration with a local expert to conduct the pre-charrette public engagement process. This has the additional benefits of staff building and maintaining community relations.
  • Look to universities and colleges for help. Local planning or sociology departments can provide valuable assistance in on-the-ground community outreach. Architecture departments may provide renderers and GIS assistance.

Like a homeowner who does his/her own construction management on a remodel, some of these cost saving approaches come with risks. NCI trainings can lower these risks by providing local staff and consultants with the process framework and management tools required to manage a complete project that includes a multiple day charrette.