Learn the Process – Design Charrette

The design of a financial institution branch or workplace doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it’s a fundamentally collaborative process. Or at least we believe it should be. Surprise or disagreement among stakeholders after a design presentation is an unfortunately common occurrence, and it’s usually due to miscommunication in the hand-off between a building user’s requirement discussions and the design process.

We have a solution to this, nurturing that hand-off and integrating our clients into the design process. We kick off the design phase of our projects with the charrette, a live, collaborative design session. Here, key project stakeholders sit down with Momentum’s project management and design team to hash out design concepts and develop a conceptual design.

This immediate feedback loop and direct collaboration eliminates the need for the tedious back-and-forth between stakeholders in the traditional design process. What does the staffing model look like and what type of layout should support it? How will the building look and feel? What technology and banking equipment will be incorporated and how will the space support it? How will visitors and staff navigate the building?

During the charrette, these ideas are discussed in real time while the design team creates draft design documents. Misunderstandings, miscommunications, and competing ideas are dealt with immediately and don’t have the opportunity to grow into larger problems over time.

The result is that there are no surprises. There is no major branch or workplace design reveal during a presentation, but rather an iteratively developed set of documents and drawings that represent a consensus among both our team and our partner’s team.

Not only does this process result in designs that everyone is happy with, it can also significantly reduce the cost and shorten the schedule of a project. The earlier a design change is made, the less effort is required. This is a well-researched concept best illustrated by the MacLeamy curve in the chart below. Where major design revisions usually take place during the design development or construction documentation stages, our charrette session pulls the most significant revisions up into the pre-design stage.


Our design-build delivery adds one more benefit to the charrette: Instead of waiting for the construction documents to be bid out for estimates and constructability reviews, where revisions become more difficult and costly, our construction team is engaged from the beginning and is able to give real-time feedback on the cost and schedule impacts of branch and workplace design decisions.

If you’d like to learn more about charrette sessions or discuss your next project, feel free to reach out to our team and start a conversation through our contact page.


This blog is just one part of our “Learning the Process” series, which you can read here. We’ve released a whole series of articles covering aspects of our project management process. In many cases, the innovations we’ve discovered can carry over to the work you are doing and can help you build more robust project management processes on your own team.

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