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What is a Design Charrette?

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“The term “charette” evolved from a pre-1900 exercise at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in France. Architectural students were given a design problem to solve within an allotted time. When that time was up, the students would rush their drawings from the studio to the Ecole in a cart called a charrette. Students often jumped in the cart to finish drawings on the way. The term evolved to refer to the intense design exercise itself. Today it refers to a creative process akin to visual brainstorming that is used by design professionals to develop solutions to a design problem within a limited timeframe.” [definition source]

Bryan Louisell brought in the design challenge: to develop an exterior facade scheme for the former Rollerdrome building on Putney Road in Brattleboro, VT. The large non-descript building guards the entry approach to a large complex at the north end of the West River bridge, owned by Dennis Smith, encompassing The Marina Restaurant, an active commercial marina with a boatlaunch ramp, offices, repair shops, the Brattleboro Outing Club boathouse, the West River Trail southern trailhead, and much more. There is a need for an attractive, welcoming waymarking concept, to alert and inform potential visitors of the opportunities available out-of-sight down the slope and around the corner. Other than the Retreat Meadows ramp on Route 30, this is the primary public access point to the West and Connecticut Rivers, and the Meadows themselves. Austin Design has thrown itself into the fray… it’ll be interesting to see what results!

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All photos by Bill Austin!

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