The Charrette: An Interdisciplinary Academic Tool

By Lauren Karwoski-Magee and Debra Ruben.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In an interconnected world that thrives upon immediate communication through such interfaces as e-mail, Facebook and Twitter, design programs are challenged to find opportunities to promote interpersonal and interdisciplinary interaction.
The design charrette, historically an individual pursuit of intensely focused work, can be an academic tool that capitalizes upon students’ impulses toward social networking by introducing interdisciplinary teamwork around projects of social importance. The intense, focused time frame of the charrette, the exposure to ideas from many individuals, and the benefits of face-to-face interactions expand the charrette into an opportunity for dynamic interpersonal collaboration.
This paper assesses annual interdisciplinary design charrettes at Drexel University through a review of event preparation, project outlines, student interactions and tangible outcomes. The assigned projects for the charrettes, both global and local, share common goals of the need for sustainable design proposals, universal access, and community outreach. In these charrettes, undergraduate and graduate students collaborate on design projects, relying on their teammates’ skills from disciplines that include Civil and Architectural Engineering, Anthropology, Biomedicine, Entertainment and Arts Management, Graphic Design, Information Systems, Public Health, Digital Media, Legal Studies, Economics, Architecture and Interiors.
By facilitating collaboration, the design charettes enabled these diverse participants to develop richly varied projects that built upon each individual’s strengths in a common, open forum.

Keywords: Charrette, Interdisciplinary, Teamwork, Drexel, Global, Local, Community Outreach, Universal Access, Collaboration

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp.53-64. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.808MB).

Lauren Karwoski-Magee

Instructor, Department of Architecture + Interiors, Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Lauren Karwoski Magee received her Master of Architecture from Southern California Institute of Architecture and her Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Virginia. She is the Director of Instruction in Representation for Architecture in the Department of Architecture and Interiors at Drexel University and teaches hand and digital drawing classes as well as architecture studios. Lauren is a practicing architect in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York and is principal of The Drafted Line, an architecture firm. Her interests in practice and in education include interdisciplinary design methods and the role of the craftsperson in design work.

Debra Ruben

Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture + Interiors, Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Debra Ruben is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture and Interiors at Drexel University and teaches both lecture and studio courses in the graduate and undergraduate Interior Design program. Curriculum development and research includes integrating sustainable design into Drexel’s CIDA accredited Interior Design program. Debra’s area of research centers on Interdisciplinary design thinking and sustainability issues related to community and participatory design practices. An Interior Design practitioner for 18 years, her work has won several awards including Best of Show for the IDEC 2005 juried Interior Design Competition.

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