On February 8th, the Community Design Program (CDP) of the Iowa Architectural Foundation presented their findings and recommendations to the City of Carlisle. The presentation represented hours of work from an intensive weekend of fact finding, community meetings and design work by a ten-person professional team at the IAF.
“After several months of organizing, we brought a team of professionals or a “charrette” into Carlisle, stated Edd Soenke, Architect and Team Lead. Soenke explains, “The term “charrette” comes from the19th century when architecture professors would ride in a charrette (little cart) and take notes and drawings in order to collect data and information from students and the town’s people during a rebuilding period a in France. The term is recognized by architectural professionals and planning consultants worldwide.”
Mr. Soenke continues, “Our program is unique because we meet with multiple groups throughout the community to get their input on what they would like to see on a go-forward basis. Each charrette is tailored to fit the community’s needs. Design teams are generally made up of a variety of professionals, including architects, students, interns, community and regional planners, landscape architects and graphic designers. Many times, if we can identify an architect or architectural student in the community, we try to get them involved. In Van Meter we had two students/interns from the community who were a big help and provided inside information that is not available in the public meetings.”
Starting at Iowa State University as the Iowa Community Design Assistance Team (ICDAT), the concept was moved to the Iowa Architectural Foundation in 2001 and renamed the Community Design Program. Since then, over a dozen communities around Iowa have benefited from their expertise and guidance.
CDP charrettes assist communities in translating community vision into actual diagrams, sketches and renderings in order to build community support and to assist with fundraising. Design teams do NOT provide building schematics or project cost estimates. This work is left to the subsequently-hired design professionals.
“In Carlisle we had a team of 10 professional volunteers”, Mr. Soenke adds. “We had meetings on four previous occasions and the design process started in the afternoon of January 28th. After meeting with additional community members in three or four different venues throughout the city, we started the planning and collaborating on Friday the 29th.
“In the past we have taken our notes and, over the course of a few months, would put together the plans and elevations but today we find it much more beneficial to all work together until we develop the final plan. It is much more instructive to do the design within the community and let the community be a part of the process. It is important for them to see it unfold in front of them.
“We start by creating a SWOC analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & challenges) wherein every community is different, and this will help us better understand what we have to work with and where we need to go.
“The biggest challenge of bedroom communities, of which Carlisle could be considered, is that so many activities happen in the neighboring city and not enough is happening in town. We want to address those issues so we can get people to stay in town and stay local.
“Carlisle is unique because they already have a completed Walk-a-bility audit. The opinions from the audit saved us time and were easily tied into our comprehensive recommendations for short term and long term community design goals
Soenke concludes, “Short term recommendations are usually less expensive items and include improvements such as coordinated paint colors, minor façade improvements, improved signage and amenities. Long term recommendations include streetscaping in the business district, trail expansions, a park complex and a business development area. It was a great experience and we were honored to play a part in Carlisle’s future.”
For more details please download the CDP Plan here.