CNU-By-Design: Annual Charrette

The Concept

Beginning in 2013, the CNU-CA started a program to host a CNU-By-Design Annual Charrette ("the Charrette") as a Board led program that provides educational and membership outreach opportunities statewide. The other CNU-CA's annual programs include our Annual Membership Meeting, Board Retreat, and the Paul Crawford Award.

The Charrette's are designed to advise a city assistance in visualizing and then realizing the opportunities that CNU's principles and processes, such as public Charrettes to envision mixed-use, walkable places will provide a city. These annual Charrettes are led by Board Members and supported by CNU-CA members statewide. Our board's selection of an Annual Charrette project is based upon the request's relevance to CNU initiatives and expertise, such as Transit-Oriented Developments, Form-Based Codes, Sprawl Retrofits, and Tactical Urbanism. The Charrette's selection is based upon the following criteria:

  • Sponsor City's Request for Assistance (Board Members bring these forward);
  • Potential Impact to Implementing CNU Charter + Initiatives; Catalysts for follow up/future NU projects;
  • Likelihood of Adoption or Built Result; Political / Financial Support for the Charrette;
  • Fit with CNU-CA Strengths and Capabilities.

The Scope of Work is defined by the sponsor city. An objective team of CNU-CA Board members forms the core Charrette team and coordinates the statewide memberships participation, public outreach, project management and delivery of the final report of recommendations. Our recommendations are built upon the local sponsor's existing accomplishments and the expected outcomes are of the high quality for which CNU is known.

CNU-By-Design is a for-fee service in which the sponsor enters into a contract with the Chapter. Fees are expected to cover administration and expenses costs. Board members meet with a potential sponsor to discuss Charrette contract requirements, timing, travel logistics, expenses, discipline requirements, and recruitment from membership and the preparation of Charrette materials. Logistical arrangements are completed by CNU-CA Board members and provide for core Charrette team travel, lodging, and a workshop at a full-service hotel in the sponsor city. Board members work closely with the sponsor in the creation of a Scope of Work. The sponsor prepares briefing materials, arranges interviews with local stakeholders, and plans a tour of the study area for the core Charrette team.

A typical charrette week is organized as follows:

Day 1: Arrival, Orientation, Sponsor Briefing, Opening Public Event (Educational)
Day 2: Stakeholder Interviews, Design Interventions/Alternatives Produced
Day 3: Alternatives Vetting, Stakeholder Interviews, Public Workshop (Dialog)
Day 4: Preferred Design Interventions; Report Design/Illustration Production
Day 5: Draft Report Production, Final Public Presentation (Dialog/Education)

The core charrette team drafts the report on-site and the sponsor submits comments on the draft within 2 weeks. The final day presentation of the Charrette's findings will be finalized within 3 weeks after the sponsors comments are submitted as a detailed report summarizing the findings, issues, and preferred design interventions and tools to solve for the Project's primary issues. The sponsor will receive a digital version of the final report.


Woodland, 2017

Sept 29 - Oct 2nd

Our CNU California Chapter, in collaboration with the City of Woodland, the County Fair Mall owners, and the greater community, will host our annual By-Design-Charrette to plan for the Suburban Retrofit of Woodland's County Fair Mall from Friday September 29th through Tuesday October 2nd.  The plan will help attract the necessary investment and development interest to create a walkable, mixed- used center for living, shopping and working within the boundaries of the existing Mall site.   We will establish a design studio within the Mall and intend to hold public meetings there on Friday evening, Saturday, and possibly Monday evening there before Tuesday evening's formal presentation to Council in Chambers.    Please contact Howard Blackson and or Stephen Coyle with any volunteer RSVP and /or questions.

 Click here to give feedback on the Woodland Design charrette!

Oxnard, 2016

Jan 29th - Feb 2nd

Our board has been asked by the City of Oxnard to host our annual By-Design Charrette at the end of this month. Please see the information attached as our volunteer charrette team welcomes any CNU-California member assistance during our 5-day charrette. This year, we are pleased to introduce the 2015 New Urbanism Film Festival highlights as a public dialog tool to frame from the beginning the value of mixed-use, walkable new urbanism built in other places. 

Please send an email to info@cnucalifornia if you are interested in participating and volunteering and we will send more information. 

A ‘pop-up’ art gallery will be open daily from 10 am-4 pm at 315-327 N. 5th Street. There is no cost to attend any of the events. The film festival is limited to 75 seats, so please RSVP by emailing or by calling the City’s Economic Development Offices at (805)385-7407.

We are excited about the opportunity bring a CNU-principled perspectives to city staff, the local Community Planning Group, and local citizens. Also, please share with any students that may be interested in volunteering. We thank you for your membership and our board hopes you will join us in Oxnard in two weeks and in Detroit in June.

CNU-By-Design: Final Downtown Oxnard Vision Plan Charrette May 22, 2016

Newport Beach, 2014

Oct 17th - 21st

From October 17 - 21, 2014, on behalf of the City of Newport Beach, our CNU California Chapter conducted our Annual 'CNU-By-Design' Charrette focusing on our national 'Highways-to-Boulevards' initiative. Our five-day planning and design Charrette included gathering public input on design techniques to improve vehicular flow, pedestrian experience, and bicycle access. A summary of each day’s events is provided on the city's website and the presentations from the opening and final sessions are also included.  Link to the city's website.

Download the Final Charrette Report.


Livingston, 2013

The California Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CCNU) launched its first CNU-By-Design event by hosting a Charrette in Livingston, CA June 22nd to June 25th 2013. The CNU-By-Design: Charrette Series targets primarily economically disadvantaged communities (as defined by the State ). For CNU members, the Charrette provided an opportunity to collaborate on the development of conceptual-level plans and form-based codes, and schematic specific area or corridor designs for a deserving city. The products generated and delivered by the volunteer consultants to the jurisdiction following the Charrette will enable the community to refine the plan or design and commence the implementation process, and for use as an asset for the pursuit of funding and other in-kind resources.

The inagural CNU-By-Design event was held in Livingston, California and hosted by the CNU California with City Manager Jose Ramirez and Community Development Director Donna Kenney. The Charrette team developed a Charrette Book that includes:

  • A proposed Downwtown Plan.
  • A circulation diagram, a "complete streets" approach to connectivity and place-making;
  • Street plans and sections for key corridors and intersections;
  • Schematic form-based code sheets, typological and/or frontage organization of public realm;
  • Schematic plans for key infill sites.
  • A city-wide conceptual plan.

The Charrette team accomplished much more than expected in four days and presented to the City Council and the public in an event that was hailed as a great success and will help influence future development in Livingston.

The final Charrette book can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.

Download the Livingston Charrette Book.