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MURP Students Participate in Housing Charrette with Industry Professionals

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November 4, 2016

In late September, MURP students in Assistant Professor CTT and Associate Chair Jennifer Steffel Johnson’s Urban Housing class participated in a community design charrette, which is an intensive, hands-on workshop that brings together numerous disciplines to explore architectural, planning and development options for particular areas or sites.

Urban Housing is an interdisciplinary class that includes urban and regional planning, architecture and landscape architecture students. “Design by Community Charrette” was conducted in partnership with professional architects, who serve as team leaders that organize the students and their progress on the project, as well with Housing Colorado, a statewide non-profit organization “working to educate, inform and advocate for affordable housing.”

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To solicit projects, Housing Colorado released a request for proposal for potential organizations to apply to be the focus of the charrette, with applications often coming from housing authorities, municipalities and non-profit housing organizations. With their proposal, applicants must have a real project and site in mind for which they want to implement an actionable plan.

For the Fall 2016 charrette, two applicants were chosen—Mile High Ministries’ York Street Project in Denver, and Fort Collins Housing Authority and City of Fort Collins’ Colorado Housing Project in Fort Collins. Fort Collins’ project consisted of a 60-acre site of undeveloped, city-owned land. The site was zoned for up to 204 units and sought to develop a mixed used and mixed income design to provide diverse housing choices for households of all types. Mile High Ministries requested assistance with the development of a mixed-used affordable housing community on blighted property in the northeast Denver neighborhood of Cole, which is located off of York Street.

During the class, students conducted precedent and existing conditions studies for several weeks on the actual sites to understand both the clients’ needs as well as their particular projects.  After the preliminary work was completed, the design charrette took place over three days on the designated sites, which included assistance from volunteer architects, landscape architects, planners, construction and finance professionals, market analysts and representatives from the client organizations. Together with the students, the teams assembled the designs for the projects.

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At the end of the three days, the project typically progresses enough so that the client can move forward in searching for funding to implement the final product. For instance, in past years, several charrette projects have been built or are currently under construction. It is estimated that the services provided by the students and volunteer professionals is worth upward of $60,000 per organization.

To conclude the design charrette, students presented their completed work at the Housing Colorado NOW! Annual Conference, which took place in Beavercreek, Colorado from October 5 to 7.