Design Charettes at CPL

The concept of “design” and the role it plays here at CPL is a broad topic that encompasses our culture, our people and our work.

Design is an essential part of Who We AreIt crosses all disciplines and practice teams and is embedded in our everyday decision-making process. It impacts our clients, our partnerships, our communities and our people. It also affects the way we work, collaborate, mentor and evolve as design professionals.

To put it frankly, we care deeply about design.

One of the ways we stay dedicated to facilitating a culture that is centered around design is by having frequent “Design Charettes” in each of our offices. These charettes are collaborative brainstorming sessions that can range anywhere from a quick, impromptu conversation to a planned, intensive discussion involving multiple team members and stakeholders. At CPL, charette sessions are important internal tools that allow us to inspire one another, push creative boundaries, and explore unique design solutions for our clients.

In CPL’s Buffalo, NY office, our team has monthly design charettes that are typically focused on specific projects or proposal submissions. These scheduled workshops occur during a lunch hour and are always advertised as open invitations for anyone in the office to attend. All team members are encouraged to sit in, share their thoughts, absorb ideas, and most importantly, be inspired.

“Prior to each charette, a Project Manager will often share key project goals and information, including project specs, floor plans and images to help us all prepare for the upcoming session,” said Carly Owczarczak, CID, LEED AP BD+C, NCIDQ, CPL design team member in Buffalo. “I genuinely look forward to these meetings each month and appreciate the opportunity to participate in a design-focused conversation with my colleagues.”

Recently, team members in our Buffalo, NYRochester, NY and Woodstock, GA offices worked on and completed renovations for the Northridge Church’s campus in Webster, NY. Throughout the course of the project, the team conducted several design charettes to facilitate intentional conversations around material assessments, color sections as well as the project’s overall design direction. As a result, the newly renovated space emotes a warm, industrial, “local coffee shop” feeling as soon as you walk in – a design outcome that was directly requested by the client.

Our design charettes have quickly become very powerful tools used for engaging team members, stimulating ideas and enhancing our quality of work. They allow us to garner a better understanding of each other’s perspectives and further maintain a design-oriented culture.

With a career spanning more than 30 years, Mike is engaged in the firm’s business development efforts and is leading our Higher Education practice throughout the east coast and beyond. His experience encompasses work with K-12, higher education and corporate clients and is evidenced on many campus communities, both large and small, public and private. Mentoring young professionals is one of his favorite parts about the job, coupled with a strict focus on quality of design as an architect.

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