The Inspiration

The CityBuilding Partnership was founded by Nathan Norris as a result of his frustration with communities wasting time, money and energy on planning initiatives that were destined to have minimal beneficial long-term impact—despite their well-intentioned goals.

The Vision

His vision was to create an organization that would partner with communities as well as developers so that they can avoid the common mistakes that undermine or under leverage most planning or development initiatives.

Some of the common mistakes include:

  1. Miscalculating the expertise and resources required for building community support for initiatives;
  2. Investing in tools and processes that are not best-suited to achieve your goals;
  3. Focusing too much on planning and not enough on implementation; and
  4. Underestimating how design techniques are essential to effectively solving problems, not simply aesthetic concerns.

The Four-Prism Perspective

Nathan views every engagement as a partnership with you that is guided by his extensive experience working as an employee of: (1) local government; (2) planning firms; (3) non-profits; and (4) real estate development teams.  This rare Four-Prism Perspective is critical for knowing the right questions to ask during the information gathering stage as well as identifying the practical path forward during the assessment stage.

Leverage Connections to
Industry Leaders

Nathan augments his Four-Prism Perspective with the wisdom and skills of an extensive network of leading practitioners with whom he has developed relationships over the past 20 years.  This means that you end up with the person perfectly suited to help with your specific goals—nothing more and nothing less.

Inspire Action

In today’s world, it isn’t enough to know what to do. CityBuilding is simply too difficult.  What you need is a process that can inspire others to act, not simply ponder.  Our approach starts with this end in mind, and uses facilitation and advocacy skills designed to speed your progress.


Nathan R. Norris
Founding Principal

Prior to establishing the CityBuilding Partnership, Nathan served as the CEO of the Lafayette Downtown Development Authority where he and his team spearheaded the development of the award-winning Downtown Action Plan and the Creativity Everywhere initiative; co-wrote and secured adoption of a groundbreaking form-based code that subsequently won the Driehaus Award; established the CityBuilding Exchange educational conference for community leaders; and initiated a major road diet on one of the two main thoroughfares, as well as the development of the Return on Infrastructure Investment Analysis Tool.

Previously, Nathan was the co-founder and Director of Implementation Advisory for the international urban design firm PlaceMakers, LLC.  At PlaceMakers, Nathan worked with developers and municipalities to plan, entitle, develop and market neighborhoods, towns and cities.  During this time Nathan started the annual Magical Mystery Tour series of intensive site tours of leading projects and places that continues on today as the CityBuilding Express.

Prior to the creation of PlaceMakers, Nathan served as the Director of Marketing & Sales for multiple large scale traditional neighborhood developments.

He is a contributor to the Charter of the New Urbanism and the SmartCode Manual; a co-founder of the New Urban Guild; a founding board member of the Transect Codes Council; the primary author of the Smart Growth Schools Report Card; a certified instructor for the National Association of Realtors Smart Growth course; and the project manager for the Appraisal System which rates the merits of development from the perspective of Smart Growth principles.  He is the recipient of the 2019 Barranco Award.

He regularly speaks across the country on how communities can leverage placemaking as an economic development tool. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and his law degree from the University of Alabama.