The term charrette, literally, the French word for cart, originated in 19th century Paris at the École des Beaux Arts, where professors passed through the school to collect students' work in a small cart. As the cart made its rounds, students scrambled to put the final touches on their drawings at the last moment.
Today, the term charrette refers to an intensive and participatory design workshop during which a variety of community stakeholders work collaboratively to define a shared vision for the future of their community. A charrette is an open, creative and multidisciplinary brainstorming exercise, with multiple feedback loops, that enables community members to solve a design challenge in a compressed period of time.
Located in the heart of historic downtown Newport News, the Superblock property (on Washington and West Avenues between 26th and 28th Streets) represents an exciting opportunity to jump start the transformation of downtown. With new development occurring in and around downtown, the time is right to explore how the Superblock could become a significant place for the city and a catalyst for further downtown development.
Community Superblock Charrette Vision
The City of Newport News and the Newport News Redevelopment and Housing Authority invited the Newport News community to help generate ideas for what can and should be on the Superblock site in the future. On June 27–28, 2014, the community convened to envision the potential future land uses and character of the Superblock through a two-day design charrette. The goal of the design charrette was to enable city stakeholders, residents and members of the development community to collaboratively develop a shared vision for the Superblock.
This was an opportunity to roll up our sleeves, be creative, and work together to imagine what the Superblock could look like in the future. Above all, it was an opportunity to have fun and meet others who care about the future of downtown Newport News!