Crafting Charrettes That Transform Communities

PAS Memo — November-December 2018

By Holly Madill, AICP, Wayne Beyea, AICP, Bill Lennertz


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When the right people are engaged at the right time, with the right information and in the right place, charrettes can build trust and provide the space for people to work together to solve divisive issues and create successful projects. Charrettes have the power to ignite transformation in communities — but without careful preparation they can backfire, leaving feelings of distrust in their wake.

This PAS Memo offers guidance and a case study from the National Charrette Institute to show planners how to be "people ready, data ready, and place ready" in crafting effective charrettes that can transform communities.


Page Count
Date Published
Nov. 1, 2018
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Authors

Holly Madill, AICP
Holly Madill is the director of the National Charrette Institute at Michigan State University. Over the last 20 years, Madill has developed a diverse set of skills, while coordinating and leading projects around a wide range of topics for the private, nonprofit, institutional and public sectors. She specializes in community engagement, placemaking, transportation and walkability, as well as development of trainings, surveys (including analysis) and proposals. She is a trainer for the NCI curriculum, MSU Extension Citizen Planner Program and the Zoning Administrator Certificate Program. Madill holds a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science from the University of Alabama and a Master's degree in Urban & Regional Planning from Michigan State University.

Wayne Beyea, AICP

Bill Lennertz
Bill Lennertz is the principal author and lead trainer of the NCI Charrette System™, the first structured approach to design-based collaborative community planning. Since co-founding NCI in 2001, Bill has trained top staff from numerous organizations, including the US Environmental Protection Agency; US General Services Administration; US Department of Housing and Urban Development; Departments of Transportation in Oregon, New York, and Arizona; as well as many private planning firms across the country. First as Director of the Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (DPZ) Boston office and then as partner in Lennertz Coyle & Associates, Bill has directed over 150 charrettes for both public and private clients for projects ranging from main street revitalizations, town centers, and affordable housing to new neighborhoods and communities. By incorporating the charrette process in a broad range of challenging projects, Bill has encountered virtually every type of political, economic, and design problem that challenges smart growth. Bill co-authored The Charrette Handbook published by the American Planning Association, is the co-editor and essayist of Towns and Town-Making Principles (a monograph on DPZ), and is a contributor to the Charter of the New Urbanism. Bill has taught at various universities, including Harvard, where he received his Masters of Architecture in Urban Design and now annually teaches the NCI Charrette System™ certificate course.