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Masters of Community Planning Participate in Professional Charettes

CPLAN students work with public in professional charrette

During fall semester of 2013 a number of Master of Community Planning (MCP) students were invited to participate in several community design charrettes that occurred throughout the southeastern region.  The first took place in mid-September at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture’s (APLA) Urban Studio location and focused on a local district in Birmingham, Alabama. An alumnus’ professional consulting firm, working on two different projects in Tennessee, sponsored the second two events.

Quite often projects undertaken by the Urban Studio’s Small Town Design Initiative (STDI) lead to longer-term engagment with communities or clients.  In this case, after completing an STDI project with Birmingham’s Lakeview District nearly twenty years ago, the Urban Studio was approached by a particular stakeholder, the Pepper Place Farmers Market, to undertake a more focused look at one part of the original plan.  The resulting charrette involved participants from across the design and planning professions, including both local and national practitioners; APLA faculty members; and APLA students from the architecture, landscape architecture and community planning programs.  Multi-disciplinary teams of professionals, students and faculty worked together during the two-day charrette to explore a wide array of opportunities and design directions for a critical area of interest and investment in Birmingham along the First Avenue South Corridor.

Later in the fall semester, two MCP students, Brandon Cummings and Katherine Martin, were recruited to participate along with two Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) students in two charrettes organized by Farmer|Morgan Associates, a consulting firm founded by alumni from APLA’s MCP and MLA programs.  These charrettes involved two locations in Tennessee, and addressed the development of a corridor management plan for the Cumberland Historic By-Way and a tourism management plan for the Doe Mountain Recreational Area, respectively.  Ben Farmer, partner and MCP/MLA alumnus, said of the planning students involvement that he has “come to expect from MCP and MLA students who participate in our charrettes that the learning opportunities will be a two way street.  With Katherine and Brandon that continued to be the case and all of the team members and the project benefited from their participation.”

The students also clearly found it to be a rewarding experience and truly appreciated the opportunity.  As Brandon Cummings stated, “the opportunity to work with Farmer|Morgan on two of their projects was very beneficial. I was able to gain professional experience outside of the classroom.  Their open door policy for the design charrettes was a unique aspect in that it allowed for multiple interactions with the public, which is a good skill to have as a practicing planner.”  Katherine Martin added that “working with Farmer|Morgan on the two charrettes was a great opportunity for me to work with experienced professionals in the planning field.  The tasks we completed in the fast-paced working environment required us to use methods and knowledge from all of our planning classes, from preservation to quantitative methods."



Cumberland Historic Byway Charrette presentation


DOE Mountain Management Plan Charrette presentation