Integrated Design Facilitation

a best practice

Whether you are following the traditional design-bid-build process or using an alternative project delivery model, leveraging integrated design principles can make your project more sustainable, resilient, and effective. Although most valuable if initiated at project onset, integration is valuable at any point in the project lifecycle.

Our team can support you in establishing trusted relationships and a shared vision for your project, by facilitating partnering and goal setting sessions. These sessions will determine shared project objectives and contribute to building sustained relationships between interdisciplinary team members for the duration of the project. Project sustainability is a shared responsibility. Establishing a sustainability charter for your project to create buy in and support from all key project team members is one of many potential outcomes from our integrated sessions. 

All project teams face challenges. We can guide you through navigating complex problems and finding design solutions in a structured charrette or workshop. Integrated design is an inclusive way to bring the whole team together to reduce design conflicts and rework throughout all project phases.

Partnering, Goal Setting, and Sustainability Chartering

Visioning and chartering occur early on during project planning and involve active dialogues with stakeholders, end users, and project owners to shape the project purpose and goals. These sessions should also involve technical experts, but the focus should be on “blue sky” conversations that support identifying the right project and thinking about it in the right way.

Facilitation & Design Strategy

After initial visioning and chartering, ongoing stakeholder workshops can be used to keep the project on the right track. As the design is refined, constraints such as budget, schedule, and risk management must be tracked and addressed on a continuous basis. Working together can streamline engagement and reduce the need for redesign or additional construction work.

Workshopping & Charrette Facilitation

Workshops and charrettes allow a design team to come together in an integrated fashion to achieve a common goal or solution. The diverse disciplines and perspectives represented at a typical charrette often create productive conflict, leading to solutions that otherwise would not have been considered. This is particularly true given the presence of contractors, construction managers, cost consultants, and other stakeholders that are on board early in design as part of an integrated design or alternative delivery project (these methods often go hand-in-hand). Charrettes also contribute to a positive and constructive team culture and facilitate social connections between team members early on. These stronger working relationships can lead to higher efficiencies and reduce unproductive conflict on a project.


The term “charrette” originates from a French phrase, “en charrette” or “on-the-cart”. In the 19th century at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, it was first coined as a term in the sense of design. At the end of term many architecture students would work on their team projects right until the deadline so that when a charrette was coming to collect their models and drawings for submission they would continue to work “en charrette” or “on the cart”. After this the term was used to refer to working right up until a deadline on a design project.

The use of this word has evolved to refer to a targeted working session for a team that is time bound and focused on solving a specific problem or design element. These are often high pressure, high energy events that foster innovative or creative outcomes and include a diverse group of stakeholders with different areas of expertise and contributions to the discussion. They are also time-bound events, which further motivates team members to accomplish the task at hand in order to meet a deadline.

Graphic showing the teams interacting in the Integrated Design Process.
Integrated Design Team Organizational Chart
Integrated design or integrated planning and design is the concept of having a multi-disciplinary team work together from project onset to collaborate and co-create a project that is more inclusive, holistic and considers a variety of risks up front. Rather than the traditional approach of distinct planning, design, and construction teams, each of whom operate in a “black box” passing a project along from phase to phase, the concept is to have one integrated team work together to consider risks and opportunities.
IDP Iterative Feedback Loops
Iterative Feedback Loops

An iterative process guarantees that the decisions reflect the team’s collective knowledge. The interactions among the different fields of expertise are taken into account and the solutions go through the steps necessary for optimization. Regular feedback loops serve to maintain the team’s commitment and produce repeated small successes, thus reinforcing the efficiency of the process.

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