Editor's Note

Stephanie Stroud 

One of the beautiful things about landscape architects is their elegant ability to handle chaos. Planning, organizing, designing—all of these things come with their own element of unpredictability, and the landscape architect is able to step in and provide cohesion. The planning process is often lengthy, but if one were to condense it into a few hours or a few days, it may be what we often refer to as a “design charrette.” Used to facilitate fast-paced design and yield fertile ideas, the charrette of today often incorporates professionals, citizens, and interest groups, gathers them into a single room with lots of paper and markers and ample coffee, and allows them to communicate through quick graphics. It can seem like chaos, but to the trained eye, it is a place of high productivity, creativity and communication.

Interestingly, the charrette has origins in France. Back in the 19th century at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, professors would send a cart (a charrette) around to collect students’ work at the submission deadline. Some students would actually hop into the cart to feverishly finish their work as it rolled down the street, hence working “en charrette.” This scene was popularized by artists such as Émile Zola, and caught on as a phrase and then a term to mean a quick and intense work session.

This spring, there are plenty of opportunities for participation in your landscape architecture community, whether it be in April’s community design charrette, WASLA’s annual conference, or as a juror for UW. If you have something you would like to share, please contact Stephanie Stroud, [email protected]



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