“En Charrette” / the project definition workshop

FSB Chickasaw Nation Visitor Center Project Definition Graphics

The real charrette is here. This is the day we explore creative ideas with the stakeholders. We have previously distributed the pre-charrette packet for the Program Definition Workshop. We are counting on everyone having done their homework by thinking about the various pieces of information we have sent them regarding ideas for spaces, ideas for the flavor and style of the building interior and exterior and what experience they would like the architecture to create.

I always ask the stakeholders, “if the building could talk, what would you want it to say to visitors, what do you want their experience to be and what feelings would you want them to have from interacting with the architecture?”

We have a full day ahead; starting at 9 am, a working lunch and hanging in there till 4 pm or whenever we’re done. We are only leaving the room for stretch and potty breaks. We developed a timeline for the day. The morning is filled with introductions, goals and purpose and defining the space needs; the afternoon is filled with discussing the site development and the exterior design followed with a summary session.

There are a few key “Rules of Engagement” for the workshop:

  • There are no bad ideas
  • Everyone has a chance to speak without interruptions
  • Everyone is expected to be fully engaged in the creativity

Following the introductions, there was little effort needed to jumpstart the flow of discussion. We were having a hard time keeping up with documenting the various ideas in written and graphic form. Sketch paper and felt pens were flying, laptops were spinning their drives and the walls were being populated with the results. Key goals and objectives were established in four key areas:

Physical Considerations:

  • Compliment (be respectful of) buildings in the area, but have own distinct identity
  • Strong physical relationship to the park.
  • Overlook park with extensive glazing on south.  Also need to consider shading devices.
  • “Feel” like part of the park.
  • Must serve two functions; 1)  Visitor Center, 2)  Administration for park
  • Should draw people to the park
  • Blend phases of the park from a historical perspective
  • Improve appearance of intersection and provide improved pedestrian access.
  • Would like to consider connecting Visitor Center to park with sidewalks and bridges.
  • Creative use of day-lighting
  • Consider interior courtyard
  • Consider water features (interior and/or exterior)
  • Would like to include small space for picking up box lunches
  • Coffee Shop/Café
  • Large volume in Gallery
  • Need bus unloading area (parking will likely be off site)
  • Design/construction must meet GSA requirements
  • Sustainable goal is to achieve LEED Platinum Certification

Philosophical Objectives:

  • Must feel welcoming to the public
  • Should attract visitors to area and other attractions, including downtown Sulphur and the Cultural Center
  • Visitors should leave anxious, excited to go into the park.
  • Should reinforce respect and preservation of the land (i.e. sustainable concepts)

Business Considerations:

  • The park will be open year round (only closed Christmas day)
  • The Visitor Center should strive to increase visitation to the park and area in general
  • The Visitor Center will need to accommodate up to 100 students/visitors at one time.

Chickasaw Perspectives:

  • Should highlight history of the Chickasaw Nation’s connection to the park.
  • Should express Chickasaw heritage
  • Should reflect the Chickasaw Nation as a permanent part of this area (past, present and future)

For the remainder of the morning and throughout lunch the space needs for the Visitor Center unfolded:

Visitor Center       2,462 square feet

  • Welcome-Information Desk
  • Multi-Purpose Lobby
  • Gallery / Planning-Tribal Kiosks
  • Gift Shop / Gift Store / Storage

Tribal Administration        280 square feet

  • Manager / Assistant-Waiting

Park Administration          2,338 square feet

  • Reception / Storage
  • Manager Office
  • Offices / 2 private, 2 shared, 10 work stations
  • Conference Room / Break  Room (shared with Visitor Center)

 Building Support  1,211 square feet

  • Mechanical, Electrical, IT, Elevator, Toilets, Halls, Walls

Preliminary Total Facility Area           6,291  square feet

For complete space breakdown click here.

We continued on to explore ideas about the development of the site and building design. But those will have to be saved for another post. The effort of the day produced more than we expected. All the players were to be complimented for their creativity, level of participation and just for hanging in there with us.

Stakeholders from the Chickasaw Nation included:

  • Administrator of Tribal Development (TD)
  • Administrator of Self Governance (SG)
  • Administrator of Tribal Communication and Community Development (TCCD)
  • Project Specialist TCCD
  • Project Coordinator TD
  • Project Specialist TD

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Filed under Design, Interior, LEED ®, Materials

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