‘Charette’ to help plan Columbus’ future

August 25, 2009 10:34:00 AM



A Mississippi Main Street Association Resource Team will conduct a planning workshop, or "charrette," in the city of Columbus on Sept. 1-3. A charrette is an intensive design-oriented revitalization program open to the public. 


"Charrette" is a French word meaning "little cart." In the early days of architecture school, instructors would circulate with a cart to collect final drawings, and students would jump on the charrette and frantically put finishing touches on their drawings. This type of on-the-go activity is similar to the environment of the charrette process. 


A charrette combines creative, intense work sessions with public input sessions. Public presence and support is essential to the long-term success of a charrette. Since the plans are created on-site within a four-day time period, the charrette ensures a level of community-wide buy-in and enthusiasm that leads to an unprecedented level of implementation. 


The charrette process identifies assets in the community, presents design recommendations, preservation projects and promotional opportunities to the community and creates excitement for citizens and both the private and public sectors. 


As a mature Main Street Program, the ultimate goal for the charrette in Columbus is to provide the community with an on-going, flexible work plan that they can use to guide the continued revitalization of their town and stimulate further economic growth.  


The charrette is funded through a West Alabama/East Mississippi grant initiative. This is a free service to our city paid for by a wired-grant through the Montgomery Institute.  


Mississippi Main Street Association Director of Design Services Randy Wilson will facilitate the charrette along with team members: Jan Miller, MMSA program services director for the Central District; Ben Muldrow, branding and marketing specialist for Arnett Muldrow and Associates; Ben Wieseman, landscape architect and planner for KPS Group; Jeremy Murdock from Mississippi State University; Tripp Muldrow, market analysis and economic development specialist for Arnett Muldrow & Associates; Tom McGilloway, urban planner and landscape architect for Mahan Rykiel Associates. Nathan Scott, landscape architect and a 3-dimensional modeling specialist for Mahan Rykiel Associates, will provide planning/production support to McGilloway. 


The Main Street Resource Team will produce diagrams, plans, renderings, photo-manipulations, branding and marketing collaterals to illustrate their recommendations. All of these products and recommendations are presented to the community on the final evening of the charrette. 


The public is encouraged to attend a kick-off town hall meeting and the final presentation of the charrette. The town hall meeting will be conducted on Sept. 1 at The Trotter Convention Center Lower Level at 6 p.m. The final presentation will be conducted on Sept. 3 at The Trotter Convention Center Lower Level at 6 p.m. For additional information, call Amber Brislin at 662-328-6305.