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Top 5 tools for Design-based Public Participation

October 5th, 2015 by Aarin Lutzenhiser · Comments Off on Top 5 tools for Design-based Public Participation

Check out our latest free webinar presented by NCI Executive Director, Bill Lennerz. Learn about our latest tools, developed and tested on-the-ground for NCI projects in Denver, Norman, OK and Memphis. The way a meeting starts is key to its success. Learn how to positively engage people from the moment they walk in the door to the end of the meeting. Learn how to integrate tech tools and drawing into public meetings. Learn the most effective way to collect input on a proposed plan from a large public meeting.

Top 5 tools for Design-based Public Participation

45-minute webinar recorded 9/22/15

Comments Off on Top 5 tools for Design-based Public ParticipationCategories: High-tech Tools/Social Media · Public Meetings · Public Participation · Stakeholders · Videos/Webinars

NCI Working in the Field: Practicing what we teach

September 10th, 2015 by Aarin Lutzenhiser · Comments Off on NCI Working in the Field: Practicing what we teach

In addition to our annual public trainings in Portland, OR and Washington, DC, for the first half of 2015 we have been working on a variety of interesting projects and customized trainings. This ongoing project work means that we bring new, constantly evolving,
real-world experience to everything we do. Coupled with our trainers’ over 25 years of accumulated stories from work in the field, our trainings are both fresh and grounded in a deep history of wisdom and success.

  • Forest County Potawatomi Community As part of our ongoing work with the US EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities under their Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program via a grant to the Project for Public Spaces, NCI collaborated with the Local Government Commission on a mini-charrette for the Forest County Potawatomi Community in Crandon, WI to develop recommendations for a sustainable development action plan for this Native American Tribe.
  • Memphis Fairgrounds An NCI team including Placematters and Equity Consulting Collaborative facilitated live and web-based forums to gather community input in advance of the Urban Land Institute panel on the Fairground reuse project. It was a first for a ULI panel to be preceded by an NCI community outreach process.
  • Saint Mary’s Food Bank NCI is facilitating the application of the NCI Charrette System™ to St. Mary’s Food Bank’s (Phoenix, AZ) strategic action planning process. Operations work teams are crafting action plans using a shared website as well as on-site working meetings. Plans will be merged during a 2-day charrette with management.

Comments Off on NCI Working in the Field: Practicing what we teachCategories: Benefits of Charrettes · Charrette Projects

Lessons from Memphis: How to use a vision wall for a fast meeting start

August 3rd, 2015 by Aarin Lutzenhiser · Comments Off on Lessons from Memphis: How to use a vision wall for a fast meeting start

The usual way many public meetings start is for people to meander in over the course of ten to twenty minutes, visit the sign-in table, sit down with their smart phones or head off for the food. This can make it a challenge to get people’s attention when you need it and it’s simply not a fun way to start an event.

Instead, here’s an example of a more positive and engaging way to start a public meeting. In a recent set of meetings in Memphis, TN this month, NCI engaged people in the creation of a vision wall beginning the minute they walked in the door. This approach got everyone working and on board with the meeting purpose of creating a project vision.

During the check-in process participants were handed three sticky notes and were directed to the vision wall. There, facilitators instructed people to write down three ideas for the future of the Memphis Fairgrounds. A wall poster with the following examples helped them get started: ample park space, attractive to walkers and cyclists, regional recreational site.

Facilitators instructed people to take their sticky notes to the wall. The first person up placed their three notes in a row. Everyone coming after scanned the wall in search of similar ideas. Similar ideas were placed below, new ideas were placed horizontally to continue the top row. Long columns of similar ideas began to emerge.

Once the public meeting began, the vision wall was closed. The facilitators then worked during the first part of the public meeting to first be sure the columns were correctly ordered by similar ideas. They then quickly wrote up ideas from the longest columns on a flip chart for report out at the end of the meeting.

Comments Off on Lessons from Memphis: How to use a vision wall for a fast meeting startCategories: Public Meetings · Public Participation

RFP for Workshop Consultant for South Phoenix Village

June 2nd, 2015 by Aarin Lutzenhiser · Comments Off on RFP for Workshop Consultant for South Phoenix Village

Request for Proposals for Design Workshop Consultant for South Phoenix Village
Submission Deadline: Monday, June 22, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. MST

FSL Real Estate Services intends to select a consultant to help plan and facilitate a two-day design workshop and a follow-up presentation to take place in the summer of 2015. The Broadway Heritage Neighborhood Resource Center, at the southeast corner of 24th Street and Broadway Road in Phoenix, has been selected as a venue for the design workshop. The dates of the design workshops will be mutually agreed upon by FSL Real Estate Services, City of Phoenix staff, and the selected consultant.

The attached RFP is requesting a collaborative design workshop (not a full charrette). It does list minimum qualifications that include “formal training in design workshops or charrettes (i.e. through the National Charrette Institute…”

Download the RFP here.

Comments Off on RFP for Workshop Consultant for South Phoenix VillageCategories: Charrette RFPs

How to run your whole project like a charrette

May 21st, 2015 by Aarin Lutzenhiser · Comments Off on How to run your whole project like a charrette

Some people come to an NCI training wondering if they will ever have the opportunity to use a charrette, but they leave knowing how the NCI Charrette System™ can change the way they work on all of their projects.

Run your whole project the way you run a charrette- faster, better, together. First, at the Project Start-up Intensive your team co-authors a realistic project scope and budget. No more off-target RFP’s. No more outlying team members. Then throughout your project, incorporate feedback loops for all levels of stakeholders, not just at the charrette. Reduce costly rework through just-in-time information sharing.

Recently, Bill Lennertz recorded a short presentation on how to run your whole project like a charrette. It is only 16-minutes long and can be viewed here.

Comments Off on How to run your whole project like a charretteCategories: Benefits of Charrettes · Charrette Organization and Management · Videos/Webinars

NCI Charrettes: Collaborative Design Thinking

March 10th, 2015 by Aarin Lutzenhiser · Comments Off on NCI Charrettes: Collaborative Design Thinking

For over 40 years, charrette practitioners have been using design thinking to solve the most challenging and complex problems, from community-wide design to net zero energy buildings. Design thinking is the way designers and artists innovate to create elegant solutions. A charrette is the process experienced designers use to tackle complex problems with a large set of disparate stakeholders. Design-based public involvement integrates people into the design process through three short feedback loops over multiple, contiguous days. This is the most effective way for participants to learn about the benefits and trade-offs of design decisions.

Architects have known for centuries that the most creative way to work is to immerse themselves in a problem for an uninterrupted period- often several days. Rather than chipping away at a problem one meeting at a time over a period of weeks, the charrette brings specialists, stakeholders and end-users together for an uninterrupted period of time, allowing them to break through to a creative solution. What normally takes months is accomplished in a fraction of the time.

Over 40 year ago, innovative designers started using the charrette process to bring entire communities into the design thinking process. The Charrette Handbook includes a concise history of the charrette process with descriptions of the following early urban design charrette projects.

Charrette Projects Timeline
Excerpted from The Charrette Handbook

École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France
“Charrette” is used to describe the cart on which completed student architectural drawings are placed at the deadline for critique

Urban Land Institute (ULI) Advisory Services Panel in Louisville, Kentucky

Caudill Rowlett Scott (CRS) Squatters in Blackwell, Oklahoma

W.L. Riddick Community Problem Charrettes

Carnegie Institute of Technology Master’s
of Urban Design Program

Urban Design Associates (UDA) Charrettes in Pontiac, Michigan

American Institute of Architects (AIA) Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team
(R/UDAT) in Rapid City, South Dakota

Community Based Projects (CBP) Program of the College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State University student charrette in Indianapolis, Indiana

Interaction, Inc.’s collaborative, multiple-day workshop in San Francisco

Centerbrook Architects and Planners series of “design-a-thons” in Dayton, Ohio

Solar Cities Design Workshop/Charrette at Westerbeke Ranch, Sonoma County, California

Muncie Urban Design Studio’s Muncie Urban Design Charrettes, Muncie, Indiana

University of Washington Department of Architecture student charrette, Seattle

Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company Friday Mountain Charrette in Austin, Texas

Mississippi Renewal Forum, organized by the Congress for the New Urbanism and Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company in Biloxi, Mississippi

Comments Off on NCI Charrettes: Collaborative Design ThinkingCategories: Benefits of Charrettes · Design Thinking · NCI/Charrette History

Lean Charrettes

June 18th, 2014 by NCI · Comments Off on Lean Charrettes

NCI Faculty and Board Member, David Brain, presented a well-received paper on Lean Charrettes at the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) in Buffalo, NY this month. The paper was written for The Project for Lean Urbanism: Making Small Possible and presented within the Lean Urbanism conference track at the CNU. 

Over the past decade, even as there has been a growing fascination with the benefits of charrettes as a tool for planning and public engagement, there has been a constant complaint that charrettes are too expensive. This complaint has become more common and more urgent in recent years, with shrinking budgets and tightening competition among firms for a smaller pooler of available work. Lean Urbanism has introduced a new set of concerns about the costs of the process. It is particularly difficult to fit a charrette into the budget of a project when the goal is to make “small possible.” But Lean Urbanism isn’t just about streamlining the planning process. In the simplest terms, it is about reducing the time and resources invested in planning and dedicating them instead to getting things done, in more manageable increments, with less top-down intervention or public investment, creating more opportunities for individual action, with smaller increments of investment. Read More…

Comments Off on Lean CharrettesCategories: Budgeting · Charrette Preparation · Meeting Facilitation · Plan Implementation

Confidential interviews lay the foundation for success in Norman, OK

June 3rd, 2014 by NCI · Comments Off on Confidential interviews lay the foundation for success in Norman, OK

NCI wrapped up a successful 5-day charrette in Norman, Oklahoma last week. The charrette charted the vision for the city center of Norman that will lead to a new form based code. NCI led the charrette team that included Opticos, Ferrell Madden and Alta Planning.

Six weeks prior to the charrette, the team interviewed over 60 people in 5 hours. The interviewees were grouped by similar viewpoints, such as downtown business owners, residents and faith-based groups. Without the presence of city staff in the room and the promise that names would not be attributed to comments, people could speak freely among their peers. These interviews provided multiple benefits for the upcoming charrette. The process of listening to people before starting design was the first step in establishing an atmosphere of trust in this contentious political environment. The interviews also provided the charrette team with a quick in-depth knowledge of the people, positions and issues.

In conjunction with the interviews, NCI conducted a public project kick-off meeting. This meeting was a chance for everyone to share his or her viewpoint with the charrette team, again before the start of design. Participants engaged in a series of exercises including photo preferences surveys and input on strong places/weak places. The combination of the interviews and the public meeting succeeded in calming the community’s expectations about the upcoming charrette and gaining their commitment to participate.

For more information on these tools, confidential interviews and public meeting tools are described in the new second edition of The Charrette Handbook and are taught in the NCI Charrette System™ Certificate Trainings.


Public meeting in Norman, OK

Comments Off on Confidential interviews lay the foundation for success in Norman, OKCategories: Charrette Organization and Management · Charrette Preparation · Charrette Projects · Public Participation

Announcing The Charrette Handbook, 2nd ed.

April 24th, 2014 by NCI · Comments Off on Announcing The Charrette Handbook, 2nd ed.

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!

Comments Off on Announcing The Charrette Handbook, 2nd ed.Categories: NCI/Charrette History

NCI Charrettes Raise Expectations about Public Process

April 10th, 2014 by NCI · Comments Off on NCI Charrettes Raise Expectations about Public Process

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 Off on NCI Charrettes Raise Expectations about Public ProcessCategories: Charrette RFPs