Charrettes Sharpen Focus

March 23, 2007
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WEST MICHIGAN — The American Institute of Architects Grand Valley Chapter is celebrating the national organization’s 150th anniversary by helping make West Michigan more sustainable.

The AIA has partnered with the West Michigan Strategic Alliance to sponsor the West Michigan Regional Urban Design Charrette, which will take place April 12-14. It will bring members of several local municipalities together to deal with key sites in their areas.

Three projects of five submitted were chosen to participate in the program: the Sustainable North-Central Muskegon County, the Holland Area Gateway and Division Avenue Revitalization. Each receives the benefit of professional help from AIA members, as well as $1,500 from the West Michigan Strategic Alliance to help cover the costs for individuals from participating municipalities.

Robert Daverman, chairman of the charrette and architect with Progressive AE, said the process — where teams of 24 architectural and planning professionals as well as members of the local government and community will gather to discuss the project — will encourage collaboration between municipalities.

The teams will have a balance of skills to meet the goals of the site, whether it is input from a traffic engineer or environmental architect. Daverman said the teams will visit the site to be discussed and will delve into the site’s history, past studies, the present use of the site, the surrounding area, and its potential.

AIA Grand Valley and the West Michigan Strategic Alliance also are applying for grants to enable them to continue creating 45 charrettes over the next five years.

“With that, we can literally, over five years, cover the 179 jurisdictions,” Daverman said. “We believe we can really get people thinking and experiencing multi-jurisdictional planning at a very high-level, collaborative way.”    

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