As a full-service civil engineering firm that is focused and experienced at New Urbanist principles and practices, we have engaged in dozens and dozens of masterplan charrettes throughout the United States and internationally, with some of the top urban planning firms of the world (DPZ and Partners, Moule and Polyzoides, Placemakers, Dover-Kohl and Partners, Sargent Town Planning, Lisa Wise Consulting, Princes Foundation for Building Community, and others.)

These charrettes engage urban planners and designers, architects, landscape architects, transportation planners, geotechnical engineers, economists, developers, land owners, city and county officials and many other stakeholders who engage each other in order to design masterplans and codes for redevelopment districts or new communities. CGI’s main role in these charrettes is to fully comprehend and communicate the existing infrastructural conditions and help to shape the masterplan design to embrace the opportunities and constraints of a given site. In addition we will often design street sections for new or retrofit streets, design conceptual grading and drainage, conceptual utilities, cost estimates, and engage the entire team in review and design of a full panoply of sustainability measures. Many feedback loops occur with the team and the community during the charrette week, and the result is a masterplan that has major consensus and a high degree of probability of successful implementation.

The masterplan is then often turned over to local engineers for the next stage of design development and implementation; and this is often where a significant breakdown in vision and coherent implementation occurs. In order to maintain continuity, in some cases the developer has asked us to engineer the design development and contract documents phase, in other cases we have been asked to review the local engineer’s work, and in other cases we have been asked to conduct what I call a Post-Masterplan Infrastructure Charrette.

The Post-Masterplan Infrastructure Charrette procedures and protocols are identical to the Masterplan charrette, but are more detailed and focused on the design development of the masterplan. In the pre-charrette phase a cloud storage folder (such as Dropbox) is set up and populated with the key project files, the charrette team and schedule are developed, and a pre-charrette manual is written and distributed. During the charrette all of the designers and stakeholder are engaged to develop the infrastructure plans for the site development, and they actually design it. Post-charrette, a report is written summarizing the results and conclusion of the charrette; which serves as a manual for the further design development and construction drawings. See the following images for excerpts from some of these documents.

Figure 1. A screenshot of a typical Post-Masterplan Infrastructure Charrette Dropbox folder.

Figure 2. An example of a Post-Masterplan Infrastructure Charrette schedule.

Figure 3. An example of a Post Infrastructure Charrette Report Table of Contents.

I am sharing this information with you in hopes that it can be used to help ensure that your masterplan vision is protected, and implemented in a lean and efficient manner. I welcome your comments or questions!

Paul Crabtree, PE