Task Force Update: Charrette Sharing

On November 10th and 11th, the team from DiMella Shaffer Architects led a pair of design charrette workshops for approximately 50 members of the Lathrop community. Residents from the Northampton and Easthampton Resident Association’s Council and committees joined with Board members, management, Kendal friends — including the Executive Director of Kendal at Home — a local land planner and members of Cutler Associates, the firm that Lathrop has retained as the pre-construction manager for Project Silver Lining.
The two days of lively discussion began with a report from DiMella about the results from their focus group sessions with residents, staff and Board. They also highlighted the various wish lists that were generated during the visioning meeting that was held in September.
Next, Steve Bailey from Kendal presented a summary of the Lathrop Master Plan Questionnaire that was completed by residents, staff and Board members. (A full report will be available within a few weeks and will be shared throughout the community.)
The land planner from Berkshire Design discussed the various zoning guidelines as well as wetland, conservation and agricultural restrictions that apply to both campuses. This discussion provided an important framework to understand the possible uses for the land in both Easthampton and Northampton.
Once this background information had been shared, DiMella presented six high-level design concepts for the Easthampton campus and three concepts for Northampton. These concepts reflected all the feedback about program and space priorities and opportunities that fit within the environmental guidelines. These concepts were not presented as solutions but rather as starting points to stimulate discussion. The gathering was then encouraged to begin to envision Lathrop’s future within a shared and realistic structure.
On the second day, participants collaborated in seven small groups to consider a multitude of design options and combinations for each campus, using the initial nine concepts as foundations. Each group then reported their version of the campus designs to the whole group to stimulate conversation and to begin to move toward consensus as the design elements were narrowed down.
As the next step, the pre-construction manager will estimate and report the overall costs associated with the various design concepts to test their feasibility from a financial perspective.
The goal is to keep the master plan process moving forward in a realistic fashion and at a considered pace. By the end of the process, all who are involved will have had opportunities to provide insights and input as we seek to realize Lathrop’s current and future mission.
Some residents took the opportunity to remind the group that one of our values is simplicity and to point out that while the process may be complex, the end result should be simple, sustainable and, most importantly, sensitive to the calling Lathrop has to support successful aging in place.
Thom Wright, Executive Director, encouraged the group to measure everything that is envisioned by continual reference to Lathrop’s shared values, and, always, to seek to continue, throughout the planning process, to foster community through collaboration, inclusivity and diversity.