Does your city want to accommodate growth, but not at the expense of its historic town center? What if your community needed to market prime acreage to industries yet also provide recreation for residents? Perhaps a coastal community needs innovative stormwater management solutions, but isn’t sure where to begin? Like Winterville, Effingham County, and Tybee Island, respectively – you look to a charrette.
“Charrette” describes a rapid, intensive, and creative multi-day work session in which a team of designers and local stakeholders focus on a particular planning problem and arrive at a collaborative solution.
The Center for Community Design & Preservation (CCDP) has conducted over 100 design charrettes since 1997. The format of individual charrettes remains flexible to satisfy the unique community needs and to respond to the local strengths and opportunities. Charrettes can be used to begin solving a variety of community concerns, such as downtown revitalization, building reuse, affordable housing, corridor planning, parks and recreation, wayfinding, and environmental management.
As part of the College of Environment and Design, our core team comes from the disciplines of Landscape Architecture, Historic Preservation and Urban Planning, but we often draw on students from across UGA to create discipline-specific teams as needed. Our charrettes have attracted Geology students to help design a kaolin museum, Education students to re-envision an African American boarding school, and Law students to advocate for community development in underserved neighborhoods.
Map of CCDP Charrettes
Take a look at our interactive Community Design Charrettes ArcGIS StoryMap to learn more about charrette projects completed by the Center of Community Design and Preservation. You can jump to specific cities, browse through charrette information, explore project themes, and more.
How do Charrettes Work?
Often described as “a tornado in reverse”, a facilitated charrette can take scattered issues, ideas and concerns and refine them into a comprehensive, illustrated vision. Charrettes occur in three phases:
Phase I - Research, Assessment, & Preparation
Working with a local steering committee to identify stakeholders and user groups, set goals, develop base maps, research historic photographs, gather previous plans and studies, and plan for Phase II. Timeframe: 2-4 months
Phase II - Design Workshop
A 3-day event held in the community, beginning with direct public discussion to inform the charrette team of relevant issues, begin constructive visioning for community improvement, and create community buy-in. Work proceeds by refining ideas and eliminating ineffective options through regular feedback loops from stakeholders. The team’s work space remains open to the public so that citizens can stop by to provide feedback and additional information. The workshop concludes with a presentation of the team’s solutions for final input from stakeholders.
Phase III - Refine the Concepts
Our charrette team can generate a variety of final products to best suit each project, including press releases and newspaper articles; presentation boards; annotated PowerPoint presentations; brochures, maps, and other handouts; publicly-accessible websites and social media sites; and/or complete, full-color final reports enhanced with related case studies and sources for implementation. Timeframe: 2-3 months.
Downtown Douglas Design Charrette | Spring 2023
On Friday, February 24th, 2023, the CCDP took a team of 17 CED students down to Douglas, GA, for our spring design charrette. Read more about the charrette experience here!
CCDP is excited to share the results of this collaborative effort, which led to a final presentationof innovative designs that aim to enhance the Downtown and assist in creating a unified vision that addresses a need for revitalization potential, corridor enhancements, and infill housing.
Check out the links below to watch a YouTube presentation of the charrette concepts, and, if you are a resident of or frequent visitor to Douglas, please participate in the survey to provide feedback on the final designs. Survey feedback will help local leaders prioritize revitalization efforts in Downtown Douglas.
This program is supported by a 2022 grant from the University of Georgia Parents Leadership Council. Thank you!
We asked our communities,“What has been done locally since your charrette?”
• “The county has acquired a $100,000 land and water grant and they are working on implementing some of the trails on the plan…The team that worked with us was very professional and extremely energetic! They brought fresh ideas to the table, but, more importantly, they listened to the community.” — Carrollton, GA, charrette conducted 2003
• “We passed a Green Building Resolution requiring all municipal buildings and renovations to strive for LEED Silver certification. We’re working with the River Basin Center and DNR to develop a model buffer ordinance for the coast. We’ve begun a rain barrel program. The first condos with a green roof are under construction in the beach business district. We received a $2,000,000 GEFA loan for water line replacement.” —City of Tybee Island, charrette conducted 2005
• “[We created] a mixed-use development (called “Town Center”) on major corner in City and in the downtown district [which] compliments historic district; Increased civic space (in Town Center) – creation of a 10 acre urban style park …total cost of park = $5,000,000+. Design guidelines created [3 sets: 1 for the downtown district, 1 for the historic district, and 1 for Town Center area] in line with the UGA recommendations. City continues to encourage development along Buford Hwy. as described in the Charrette document. Lots and lots of cool stuff happening in Suwanee – much of it was spurred by the ideas that came out of the charrette.“ —City of Suwanee, charrette completed 2000