|Documentation helps keep everyone informed and extends the life of the design process.|
|Peter J. Musty & Jeff Schommer, CharretteCenter|
to open the printable pdf
of this Article. (32kb)
Thorough documentation should occur throughout the process. Having an independent team document the charrette helps to create an environment of trust. The documentation team consists of three roles: the recorder (amasses information), the reporter (synthesizes information), and the publisher (informs the stakeholders). By keeping the stakeholders abreast of information gathered and conclusions made throughout the charrette and allowing comment, the Design Team can refine their designs to reflect the wants and needs of the stakeholders. Through documentation, a better product will emerge.
The Documentation branch of the team is often understaffed because it is often underappreciated. If done right, this team can help achieve a lot of trust by publishing the progress of the charrette in real time. Yet it is consistently a task that teams always seem to back into.
There are three main parts - following a traditional media model.
First - there is typically a recorder gathering data from the charrette itself - could be as extensive as a videographer, could be as simple as taking notes at stakeholder meetings. The recorder role is theoretically simple but at times hard to execute: consistently record important data from every event.
The reporter is responsible for assembling the raw data gathered from the recorder into summary documents or reports. It is this information that is usable to the design team and the stakeholders. Without a reporter rapidly organizing the data into usable information, neither the stakeholders nor the team will fully grasp the value of the first stages of the charrette. Lower budget or shorter charrettes often simply rely on the design team to perform this function mentally - and the data is never processed or distilled for the public.
The publisher has the technical job of publishing the summary information that the reporter creates. This can be done in multiple ways nowadays - High tech through web pages, radio, cable, newspaper... or low-tech through documents handed out or lists posted on the wall of the charrette studio.
A good documentation team will document the charrette or public process into a cohesive story. Documenting the process will help explain how conclusions and visions were established. Quality documentation will describe the discussions that took place during the event and explain how the community came to conclusions about how best to resolve the issues pertinent to them.
The documentation team can consist of as many people as necessary. By following objective principles of journalism, the documentation can establish credibility. Members of the design team can be included to add "expert" explanations to the designs and stakeholders can be included to explain decisions from the position of one who is directly affected.
It is important to decide on your presentation format or formats early to maximize transparency. In order to build and maintain trust between the design team and the charrette clients (residents, business owners), open conversation must occur between those involved. The format of presentation can help create an environment of transparency. A community-wide presentation meeting is typical of charrettes, but other formats can be utilized throughout the process to increase transparency. Other presentation formats include periodic newsletters, newspaper articles, graphic handouts and websites.
The role of the Web
Information can be documented on the Web so that stakeholders who are unable to attend the public visioning meetings have a way to stay informed and offer their input. Documenting the charrette process and outcomes on-line provides a lasting memory of the charrette. One aspect of on-line documentation and presentation is that it can be interactive. The inclusion of message boards within a Web page documenting the charrette process allows conversations to take place on-line.