Inside the Studio: Facade Face-Off

a sampling of Studio G charrettes through the years

a sampling of Studio G charrettes through the years

When the team of architects working on the Excel Academy Charter School needed a little inspiration, they gathered the entire Studio G gang and held an office-wide charrette.

But what exactly is a charrette, you ask?

Our definition: a creative, collaborative design blitz. An everybody-in, anything-goes, no-idea-too-crazy, brainstorm session, often fueled with feverous sketching (and perhaps a little caffeine).

The term charrette is a popular one among us design-folks. Born in the granddaddy of design schools, L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, the term dates back to the 19th century. The French translation means “cart”, referring to carts that would be wheeled through the design studios at the end of a term, collecting final projects. Of course, the architecture students worked up until the verrrrrry last minute (some things never change), often chasing the cart down the hallway while applying the finishing touches to their submissions, and therefore working en charrette.

Thankfully, our recent Studio G charrette, wasn’t entirely deadline-driven – but it was an opportunity to solicit ideas and fresh perspective from our talented staff. The topic: facades

en charrette! a look into the Studio G sketchbook...

en charrette! a look into the Studio G sketchbook…

Tamar Warburg and Darice Cadriel presented the group with their work on the new energy efficient and environmentally sustainable 70,000SF school middle school, high school and gymnasium for Excel Academy. Located in East Boston, the new charter school project includes classrooms, flexible educational  spaces, administrative offices and a cafeteria. The team had been diligently working on the architectural guts: interior space planning, circulation, functionality, materiality, etc. But what about the outsides? (We know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but a building says A LOT through its façade.)

Together, the Studio G team ‘charretted’ until we identified an underlying logic for the Excel exterior – eventually selecting Piet Mondrian’s geometric paintings as inspiration, and proving that sometimes (okay, most times) more minds are better than one!

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