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Announcing The Charrette Handbook, 2nd ed.

April 24th, 2014 by NCI · Comments Off

NCI is thrilled to announce the second edition of The Charrette Handbook will be launched at the annual APA conference in Atlanta next week. This is the first update to The Charrette Handbook in seven years. The second edition of The Charrette Handbook is a complete desktop reference for planning and conducting charrettes. The new edition brings this essential reference manual up-to-date with the NCI Charrette System™ training curriculum, including how to leverage social media and conduct charrettes on a budget, and adds examples of how charrettes can be used in public health partnerships.

 “The charrette process – as clearly taught in this important book – is the most effective tool, bar none, for reaching consensus around placemaking.”

-Jeff Speck, AICP, author, Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time 

To celebrate the publishing of our second-edition book, co-author Bill Lennertz will have a book signing on Sunday, April 27th at 12pm at the APA conference in Atlanta. If you are attending the conference, this is a great opportunity to purchase a copy and meet Bill in person. In addition to the book signing, Bill will be presenting a session along with Charles Green, Health Communication Specialist at the CDC: “The New Charrette Handbook, Health, and Public Planning” Monday, April 28th at 4:00pm. 

The Charrette Handbook is now available for pre-order on our website; we will begin delivery May 1.

Need a copy of The Charrette Handbook right away? We have six copies of the first edition available for purchase through our website. Order now and receive free shipping!

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Thinking about conducting a charrette for your next project? Join us in Washington, D.C. this May!

April 17th, 2014 by NCI · Comments Off

Thinking about conducting a charrette for your next project? Act quickly and register for NCI’s next public training workshops in Washington, D.C. because these trainings are only three weeks away: May 5-9, 2014.

You will learn a systemized process for involving all stakeholders and community members in planning projects during the 3-day NCI Charrette System™ certificate training. In the advanced, 1.5-day NCI Charrette Management and Facilitation™ certificate training, you will acquire the essential tools and techniques required to facilitate challenging public meetings while you manage a fast-paced multiple-day charrette.

Recent RFPs specifically requesting charrette experience reinforce that charrettes are relevant in today’s planning process, because when people experience an authentic NCI charrette, it raises their expectations about public process. If you’ve always wanted to visit the U.S. Capitol, this is a great opportunity to attend the NCI trainings, earn your certificate, and experience the abundant history and culture available in Washington, D.C.

Visit our website today to purchase your seat before the trainings sell out. We’d love to see you there!

“The work that NCI does is a renaissance of thinking in the areas of process and problem-solving. We all need a good dose of inspiration from time to time to keep going. I got mine at the NCI workshop.” 

- Patrick McCormick, Urban Design Planner, City of Kelowna, BC

Comments OffCategories: Trainings/Events

NCI Charrettes Raise Expectations about Public Process

April 10th, 2014 by NCI · Comments Off

Last month’s newsletter highlighted how charrettes are becoming an integral part of the public participation process in Michigan. Just this week, NCI received an RFP for another charrette in Washtenaw County, Michigan. For the preparation of a site development, the Office of Community and Economic Development of Washtenaw County states they will be using the NCI Charrette System™ to conduct their charrette process.

Take a closer look at the proposal.

Whether you are a NCI Charrette certificate holder, or just beginning to learn about the NCI Charrette System™, this RFP demonstrates that charrettes are relevant in today’s planning process. The NCI Charrette System™ is increasingly being requested in public design processes; because when people experience an authentic NCI charrette, it raises their expectations about public process. Our next public training workshop where you can earn your NCI Charrette certificates is in Washington, D.C., May 5-9, 2014.

Comments OffCategories: Benefits of Charrettes · News/Press Releases

Charrettes are Taking Hold in Mid-Michigan

March 26th, 2014 by NCI · Comments Off

“We wanted to bring charrettes to mid-Michigan as a model for involving the community in planning projects.”

This is typically how Susan Pigg, Director of the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission (TCRPC), introduces the Michigan Avenue/Grand River Avenue Vision Project. For this project, NCI led a design team through two charrettes to complete a detailed vision plan for this 21-mile corridor. The results are contained in the full color Capitol Corridor Report available for download here. NCI and Dover, Kohl & Partners presented the report to a formal meeting of the TCRPC that voted to accept the report on the spot. Now that’s the way to conclude a project!

Charrettes are already taking hold as a way of doing planning in mid-Michigan. The Michigan Avenue/Grand River Avenue project was not even finished when the Capital Area Transit Agency (CATA) announced that they would use the charrette process for their East Lansing section of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project. This charrette, led by Dover, Kohl & Partners begins today through the 23rd of March.

The Michigan Avenue/Grand River Avenue Vision Project is now a featured case study in the NCI Charrette System™ Certificate training. See details below for our upcoming training in Washington, D.C. May 5-9.

Comments OffCategories: Benefits of Charrettes · Charrette Project Website · News/Press Releases · Public Participation · Trainings/Events

NCI and Portland’s Placemaking

February 20th, 2014 by NCI · Comments Off

Why is NCI located in Portland, Oregon? What it comes down to it, we just love this place. Some of us have been in Portland for over 20 years now and it just keeps getting better. Somehow, the people of Portland have maintained an evolving collective vision for what this place is, and importantly what it is not. Local decision makers and planners have made solid urban placemaking choices over the years and now Portland is recognized as one of the most sustainable, walkable and bikeable U.S. cities.

Here’s a little history. Before there was a NCI, founders Bill Lennertz, Steve Coyle and Aarin Lutzenhiser played a role in the planning of Portland neighborhoods. Among the many project that the firm Lennertz Coyle & Associates (LCA) led, was the APA award winning Hollywood and Sandy Plan charrette. During a 6-day charrette in 1997, which included NCI board member and faculty Marcy McInelly of Urbsworks, the Portland Bureau of Planning and LCA drafted the plan that now guides the resurgence of the Hollywood District as a neighborhood transit center. Three years later, the experience from that any many other charrettes formed the foundation for the development of the first NCI courses.

We welcome you to visit our fair city this March 10 – 14 to gain your NCI Charrette System™ certificates and to see what everyone is talking about when they say that you have to see Portland. We’ll show you a good time! The training is located at the downtown office of CH2M HILL, across the street from a major food cart pod and a couple of blocks from the streetcar line. You can now travel Portland’s East and West sides on the streetcar. See the nearly completed cable stay bridge that will take light rail, streetcar, bikes, buses and pedestrians (no cars!) across the wide Willamette River. Sample the best coffee, beer and eateries regularly featured in the New York Times and Bon Appétit. Then stay for the weekend, do some spring skiing and/or tour the Oregon coast. See training registration details here and let us know if we can help you plan your trip.

Comments OffCategories: News/Press Releases · Trainings/Events · Uncategorized

Last Chance to Register for our Chicago training

February 12th, 2014 by NCI · Comments Off

We want to remind you that NCI is facilitating a 3-day NCI Charrette System™ training in downtown Chicago, February 26-28th. There are 4 seats remaining at this training; now is the time to register for the event on our website.

For those of you who live in the Midwest, this is a rare opportunity to attend a NCI training in your own backyard. The NCI Charrette System™ training will provide you with a systemized process for involving all stakeholders and community members in planning projects. At the end of the training, you will receive the NCI Charrette System™ certificate of completion.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Comments OffCategories: Trainings/Events

NCI Training registration is now open for Miami, FL

November 19th, 2013 by NCI · Comments Off

Each January the National Charrette Institute and MRED+U Program invites the public to join its graduate students in learning the ins-and-outs of planning a charrette. The NCI Charrette System™ training is led by the National Charrette Institute will be held at the University of Miami School of Architecture, January 8th-10th, 2014. Please see the registration page for more details.

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Why does the Michigan Avenue/Grand River Avenue project need an 8-day charrette?

October 10th, 2013 by NCI · Comments Off

The most important factors to consider when deciding on the length of a charrette are: a) the complexity of local politics, b) time available for the project, c) the available project budget, and d) the project size. The Michigan/Grand River Avenue project calls for the design of three large study areas along a 21-mile corridor containing multiple jurisdictions. The size and number of jurisdictions and organizations that need to be involved contribute to the project’s complexity complex situation. Eight days were required to accommodate two geographically separate public kick-off meetings, open houses, and 14 technical meetings.

A long charrette of 7 or more days can best accommodate all five charrette phases including three reviews that act as stakeholder feedback loops. This schedule also has enough time and flexibility to respond to new and unexpected issues. Diligence in the Research, Engagement, and Charrette Preparation phase will alert the charrette team to political issues, but charrettes have a way of intensifying a situation. Issues can and should surface early on in the charrette so that the team can respond through ad hoc meetings and new design explorations. When issues emerge, it is far better to be on-site for five or six more days so they can be resolved in a timely manner, rather than leaving town for a month. Having been stirred up, the politics can become intractable during such a time gap. For these reasons, the seven-day model is well suited to projects with complex political and design challenges.

Projects that have simpler politics and fewer design challenges are candidates for shorter charrettes.These projects must still go through the five charrette phases and three feedback loops essential to The Charrette System™.  For shorter charrettes, this is accomplished by completing the first two phases before the charrette. In this model, a public kick-off meeting is held four to six weeks prior to the charrette, which authorizes the team members to return to their offices and create design alternatives for presentation at the beginning of the event. This variation can be effective in saving costs, primarily in terms of space rentals and equipment and any additional staff costs for the charrette. However, it is a safe choice for only the simplest of planning projects and is definitely not recommended for volatile political environments. There is a danger in starting a charrette with design alternatives based on the results of the public kick-off meeting that some people may not have attended.

Comments OffCategories: Benefits of Charrettes · Charrette Organization and Management · Charrette Project Website

Immerse yourself in an 8-day NCI Charrette in East Lansing, MI

September 6th, 2013 by Bill Lennertz · Comments Off

NCI is leading a multi-disciplinary team for the second Michigan Avenue/Grand River Avenue Charrette, October 22-30. In conjunction with the charrette, we are holding a pre-charrette seminar on October 22nd. You are also welcome to attend the charrette public meetings and open house.  Click here for the charrette schedule.

A limited number of NCI certificate holders will have the opportunity to shadow at the design studio and participate in “side-bar” discussions about the process. Depending on the need and your experience, you may be able to help in the production phase- coloring, or computer work in the final stretch. If you are interested in attending please email

Comments OffCategories: Charrette Project Website · News/Press Releases · Upcoming Charrettes

NCI is hiring!

September 4th, 2013 by NCI · Comments Off

National Charrette Institute (NCI) Open Position Summary

Position: NCI Program Coordinator

Reports to: Director of Operations, Executive Director

Type of Position: Part-time, 32hrs/wk

Compensation: Starting at $16/hr, plus vacation, sick and medical benefits


The National Charrette Institute is a small 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a broad reach throughout the US and internationally.  For the past 13 years, we have built an international reputation teaching and coaching planning professionals and community leaders in the NCI Charrette System™. We are seeking a Program Coordinator in our office based in Portland, OR.  The position is suited for an energetic, detail-oriented person who is interested in working in a positive, customer service oriented organization.  Good customer service, administrative skills and office experience a must. Some knowledge of, and interest in, urban planning is a strong plus.

This position is of significant importance to the success of NCI as the Program Coordinator is often the first contact that clients, potential clients, members, trainees, and the general public have with our organization. The ability to multitask and be detailed oriented is a must. Interpersonal, organization and data management skills are needed to support the overall organization and training programs. Answering phone and email inquiries, maintaining the contact database, processing sales orders, record keeping, organizing and coordinating training logistics are the primary focus.  The ability to write simple informational and marketing pieces and keen editing skills are required. A variety of administrative tasks such as arranging travel logistics, tracking expenses, volunteer outreach, taking meeting notes, scheduling meetings and managing task lists are inherent to the job.

Essential Job Functions


  • Process course registrations
  • Creation, coordination and shipping of training materials
  • Activity and venue scheduling and logistics, both locally and remotely
  • Communications and follow-ups with course participants, sponsors and clients, both pre- and post training
  • Coordinate volunteers for all NCI trainings and events
  • Coordinate training scholarship process
  • Training announcements
  • Coordination of catering, materials and printing
  • Coordination of CEU reporting and availability (AIA, AICP, ASLA, CNU-a, etc.)
  • Provide support on-site for local trainings, and remotely for in-house/out-of-state trainings
  • Respond to training inquiries

 Product Sales

  • Processing, filling, and shipping CD and book orders
  • Ordering products to have in stock, tracking sale numbers
  • Following up with product inquiries

Outreach and Marketing

  • Coordinate, edit and send out monthly email newsletter, and other announcements such as promotions
  • Processing memberships, sending renewal reminders, following up with donors, sending thank-you notes and follow through with recognition, maintaining database records of donating members
  • Publicity and marketing strategy and implementation for products and trainings as well as general outreach. Assist with website updates and editing
  • Social Media and blog postings
  • Respond to phone and e-mail inquiries from public
  • Assist with creation of hardcopy and digital documents for outreach and distribution


  • Scheduling meetings
  • Document and website editing
  • Travel logistics, airfare, hotels, etc.
  • “Running around” (post office, UPS store, etc.)
  • Typing up flip charts and meeting notes, minute-taking
  • Goal and task tracking
  • General office maintenance and coordination: mail, filing, backing up of computer files, tracking and ordering of supplies, credit card receipts, etc.
  • Data entry
  • Preparing displays, mailings
  • Internal communications


  • Conference tracking, for attendance/potential presentations
  • Follow up with conference session attendees
  • Conference coordination for NCI session or exhibitor booth


  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Professional and courteous phone manner
  • Computer skills: data entry, word processing, internet, spreadsheets, document management
  • Ability to handle multiple assignments and work under deadlines
  • Ability to prioritize work
  • Ability to track specifically delegated tasks as well as larger needs and goals of the organization
  • Willingness to accept direction and work as part of a team as well as independently
  • Willingness to learn new skills and ways to perform tasks
  • Interest in, and understanding of, urban planning a strong plus
  • Some image processing (Photoshop) and layout skills (InDesign, PowerPoint) desired

To Apply:

Please send a cover letter and resume to


Comments OffCategories: News/Press Releases