Making Community Design Work

A Guide for Planners

By Umut Toker

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Since the earliest settlements, people have deliberated the issues that affect their future together. Making Community Design Work shows how planners can guide the process toward effective decision making and beneficial community design.

This well-crafted book distills decades of community design experience into a sound conceptual framework of value to practicing planners as well as planning students. Umut Toker covers a broad range of planning scales and introduces field-tested tools for participatory decision making at regional, city, community, and site-specific levels.

To succeed, any planning project must address both the physical space and its users. From setting goals to evaluating results, Making Community Design Work helps planners navigate the process of creating environments that meet the needs of the people they serve.


Introduction and Chapter 1

About the Author

Umut TokerUmut Toker is associate professor of city and regional planning in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at California Polytechnic State University.

He has been involved with several design projects such as the Concept Plans for Downtown Delano and Traver, California; Urban Revitalization of Downtown Mebane, North Carolina; and Sandhills Community Project in Spring Lake, North Carolina.

In 2007, Toker finished the 3D Digital Model of City of San Luis Obispo, a device that will increase future community input for urban design decisions.

His teaching includes participatory planning and design methods, urban design studios, and computer applications. Toker has written a number of pieces based on his research in Research Policy and Journal of Architectural and Planning Research.

Product Details

Page Count
Date Published
April 1, 2012
APA Planners Press

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Working with People for Their Future
The Concept of Participatory Decision Making
The Legal Background of Participatory Decision Making in Planning and Design

Chapter 2. What Is Community Design?
Objectives, Stages, and Outcomes
What Is Community Design?
Objectives of Community Design
Stages of Community Design
Outcomes of Community Design
Community Design: Main Principles

Chapter 3. Community Design: Origins, Development, and Current Views
Grassroots Movements
Prominent Pre-1960s Planning and Design Ideas
Community Design: The Beginnings
Community Design and Its Transformations
The Contemporary Community Designer: Accommodating Multiple Parties


Chapter 4. Initiating the Participatory Planning and Design Process
Constructing the Participatory Framework
Identifying Tasks and Instruments

Chapter 5. The "V" Process: From Project Objectives to Plan Proposal
Preliminary Exploration--Knowledge Acquisition
Goal Setting
Strategy Identification
Action Planning
Connecting Decisions to Planning and Design Outcomes


Chapter 6. Methods and Instruments for Community Design Activities
Methods and Instruments for Preliminary Exploration
Methods and Instruments for Goal Setting
Methods and Instruments for Strategy Identification
Methods and Instruments for Action Planning
Methods and Instruments for Physical Planning and Design Decision Making
Emerging Visualization Techniques for Community Designers
Finalizing the Plan or Design Proposal and Developing the Proposal Document

Chapter 7. Community Design Activity Formats
Workshop and Meeting Formats
Informal Formats


Chapter 8. Participatory Decision Making at the Urban Design Scale
Project Description and Project Area Identification
Formats and Methods for Identifying Goals, Strategies, and Actions
Digital Applications in Municipal Urban Design Decision Making
Translating Process Outcomes into Urban Design Decisions
Case: Downtown Delano, California, Concept Plan
Case: Downtown Morro Bay, California, Enhancement Project, Phase I
Case: San Francisco, California, 4th/5th Streets SOMA Study

Chapter 9. Participatory Decision Making at the Community Planning Scale
Project Description, Identification of Participants, and Outreach
Formats and Methods for Identifying Goals, Strategies, and Actions
Digital Applications in Community Plan Decision Making
Case: City of Delano, California, Strategic Plan
Case: Madera Ranchos, California, Avenue 12 Concept Plan

Chapter 10. Participatory Decision Making at the Regional Planning Scale
Project Description and Developing an Outreach Strategy
Formats and Methods for Identifying Goals, Strategies, and Actions
Methods for Involving Large-Scale Communities
Case: Envision Central Texas
Case: "How Shall We Grow?" Central Florida's Visioning Process

Chapter 11. Participatory Decision Making at the Site-Specific Design Scale
Understanding Client Needs and Program Development
Conceptual Design, Design Development Methods, and Acquiring Feedback
Design Development
Case: Sandhills Family Heritage Association Community Center, Spring Lake, North Carolina
Case: Laguna Child and Family Development Center, Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico

Chapter 12. Community Participation in Planning and Design: Future Steps
Community Design, Physical Planning, and Design Issues
Community Design and Social Issues in the Information Age
Community Design and the Environment
The Future of Community Design Methods




"Making Community Design Work is by far the most comprehensive publication on this critical subject to date. Professor Toker does an excellent job in presenting the history, the politics, the concepts, and the methods of community design for a range of scales. Most important, he conveys the feeling and spirit of community design which ultimately determines success or failure in these endeavors!"

—Daniel S. Iacofano, FAICP, founding principal, MIG; author, Meeting of the Minds and The Inclusive City

"Making Community Design Work is a direct response to an international movement aimed at giving people a voice in shaping their future environment. This is a practical 'must have' tool for planners, designers, students, and other related professionals, community organizations, and workshop facilitators everywhere. The book outlines 'off-the shelf' workable methods illustrated by informative case studies. It integrates tools and processes that help to deepen the public conversation. It is equally valuable in shaping the next generation of designers and planners in understanding effective participation processes."

—Henry Sanoff, Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Architecture, North Carolina State University; author of Democratic Design and Community Participation Methods in Design and Planning