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.
The Center for Community Design and Preservation is working with community stakeholders in Hoschton GA to draft a conceptual master plan that preserves the character of the small town yet capitalizes on economic opportunities in response to rapid growth.
As a small town in Jackson County on the I-85 corridor, Hoschton's population of 3,000 is projected to balloon to 10,000 in just five years. In-town traffic is already on the rise, clogging smaller roads not meant for the current influx of cars. Many people are relocating to the area for the small-town lifestyle yet expect bigger-city amenities. Local officials want to capitalize on the town’s historic character, ensure that new growth blends in, and determine ways to accommodate residents and visitors without overwhelming the roads in the central business district. Walkability, historic preservation, infill building designs, a new city hall, a parking deck, a 7-acre civic parcel and downtown revitalization are all key topics of exploration.
Students from our Landscape Architecture, Historic Preservation, and Urban Planning & Design programs toured Hoschton with local officials on October 24, 2021. The UGA charrette team shared their initial ideas on YouTube and developed an online survey for feedback. The video presentation got 246 views and the survey received 144 recorded responses. From November 2021 to March 2022, the charrette team analyzed this feedback, conducted an additional site visit to Hoschton, and conducted case study research to inform their final design ideas and recommendations.
Can We Get a Charrette?
Interested in bringing a charrette to your community?
Contact Jennifer Lewis, Outreach Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-542-6760.
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