The AIA Minnesota Search for Shelter - Design Charrette

In the 1980's America experienced a boom in those affected by homelessness. There was an outcry for solutions to providing better solutions to providing shelter and services for those who have had a harder road laid out in front of them.

Members of the American Institute of Architects answered the call and organized themselves in over 21 cities across the U.S. to hold Design Charrettes to gather all those interested in developing solutions to end homelessness. 

In this short film, we get a brief look at those who are still leading the way in what is still called "The Search For Shelter Charrette".

Project Details

Title: The Search For Shelter Design Charrette
Commissioned by: AIA Minnesota 
Date: Winter/Spring 2014

Interviews with John Klockeman, Rosemary Dolata, and Jennifer Hilla Schlag.
Music: "Halls of Sound" by TJ Hill
Special Thanks to the Catholic Charities' Higher Ground, and all the volunteers who contributed their time, talent, and work to the Search for Shelter and the talent and volunteers appearing in this film. 

Behind the Scenes

John Kockeman being interviewed by Rosemary Dolata for "The Search for Shelter Charrette"

John Kockeman being interviewed by Rosemary Dolata for "The Search for Shelter Charrette"

Jennifer Hilla Schlag being interviewed by Mary Larkin   for "The Search for Shelter Charrette"

Jennifer Hilla Schlag being interviewed by Mary Larkin for "The Search for Shelter Charrette"

Project Description from Client:

In 2014, AIA MInnesota's Search for Shelter Design Charrette (SFS) celebrated its 28th year helping local and regional affordable housing organizations envision beautiful, innovative design solutions for projects that previously existed only in written form. This video gives a brief background of SFS and hopes for its upcoming years! Learn more at


  • Promote SFS to local funders, participants, and partners.
  • Generate awareness to AIA Components across the country with the idea that they could launch a SFS in their own community
  • Take a first step toward the SFS 30th Anniversary promotions/activities

Preparing for Success

With a limited budget and timeline for production,we experimented with the idea of crowdsourcing video clips from participants of the 2014 charrette weekend. Predictable this had mixed results so additional time was donated to the project to be prepared with enough material incase that concept didn't pan out.

We filmed this project with the knowledge that there will be a larger story to tell. So interviews included a lot of material about the history of Search For Shelter that we hope to include in a future film.

One area where the crowdsourcing efforts have paid off, is in some of the Housing Advocacy Committee filming an interview on a later date with one of the past participants with Search For Shelter. Again that interview will be included in the larger story.

Editing Choices

The mood of this piece was a big driver in the final narrative. Pacing, music, and the imagery, used all play a significant role. 

In this case, nailing down the narrative drove all other decisions and really focusing on whom the message of this film is aimed at. 

The target audience is other chapters and members of the AIA, so there isn't a need into technical descriptions about what's happening throughout the charrette. Yet, it was still important to keep all the visuals on point with the message.

Charrette Team presenting their solution while being filmed from the "wings" of the stage.

By working with AIA MN over the last few years on this topic, we've also gathered an archive of footage that helped to fill in the gaps where our budget didn't allow for new material to be produced, while limiting those uses so that if they may be familiar, they are also contextual to both the current and past project.