As our name implies, we’re not just a planning and design firm. Instead, we address the full scope of placemaking — planning and urban design, context-specific coding, community engagement, implementation, and the marketing of great places — and put our focus on the kind of viability that turns vision into reality. United by a mutual passion for creating timeless and endearing places, we’re a unique collection of professionals — planners, designers, coding fanatics, economic strategists, and storytellers schooled in journalism, public relations and marketing — rigorous in our insistence that every skill, every strategy, every tool serve the goal of making places in which families and businesses of all kinds can thrive for generations to come.
Operating in both the United States and Canada, we’re relentless connectors. Our extensive relationship building and broad network of strategic partnerships allows us to transcend the limitations of a static, in-house staff with custom project teams, tailor-assembled to the specifics of each unique engagement.
Principal | Managing Director
“Belief creates the world we know.
I help people see the possibilities.”
As PlaceMakers’ Managing Principal, Hazel inspires the company to deliver an exceptional product to a developing marketplace. She guides governments through zoning reforms — allowing walkable, mixed-use, compact, resilient places to develop by-right — and helps developers get things built under the increasingly prevalent form-based codes and character-based land use laws of the new economy.
Principal | Storyteller
“Lasting places have lasting stories.
I help you tell yours.”
Ben connects, helping build environments of trust so planning can be about testing ideas instead of protecting turf and battling through cynicism. With solid communications and facilitation skills, he fosters a genuinely inclusive process and coaxes fence-sitters and doubters towards common ground — a place where shared goals stand in bold relief against divisive perspectives. Leveraging skills acquired through training and years of experience in fiercely competitive, deadline-driven arenas, Ben helps keep the promise of placemaking as a community-building exercise.
Principal | Storyteller
“I make sense of place.”
Scott Doyon tells the stories that help connect people. To the idea of place. To productive, collaborative participation. To opportunities that build community ties and inform successful implementation. In his work with cities and organizations, he helps illuminate often unrecognized benefits through communications and marketing initiatives that bring their promise to life. Leveraging his ten years with global branding powerhouse J Walter Thompson and ten+ years since in the dedicated service of place, he delivers clarity of both purpose and value to the myriad endeavors that bring us together.
Principal | Town Planner
“Place begins as a state of mind.
I turn it into something you can use.”
As an architect, urbanist and writer, Susan combines a wealth of practical experience with stellar project management skills to lead even our most complicated engagements. LEED-AP certified, she brings an expertise in sustainability to code writing, and continues to helm an ever-increasing number of PlaceMakers’ town planning and coding endeavors.
Senior Counsel for Environmental Strategies
Kaid Benfield is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on how cities, towns and neighborhoods can better work — for both people and the environment. A longtime leader of the smart growth movement, he served for two decades as director of the smart growth and sustainable communities programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, driving positive, forward-thinking approaches to environmental challenges in the places where Americans live, work, and play. He co-founded LEED for Neighborhood Development, a national process for defining and certifying smart, green land development, and is a founder and board member of Smart Growth America.
Kaid was named one of the “most influential people in sustainable planning and development” by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, voted one of the “top urban thinkers” on the leading city planning website, Planetizen.com, and named “one of the top 100 city innovators worldwide” by the website Future Cities.
Andrew von Maur
Berrien Springs, Michigan
Having lived, studied, and worked in Europe extensively, Andrew von Maur brings a particular interest in craft cultures, historical precedent, placemaking, pedestrian-centered urbanism, and traditional understandings of stewardship and beauty to PlaceMakers’ projects. One of our long-time collaborators, he’s had a hand in many of our most elegant design endeavors.
A well-credentialed professor with Andrews University, von Maur’s professional qualifications include extensive experience in urban design, town planning and zoning reform. This includes a diverse range of projects — infill, suburban retrofit, resort communities, and transit-oriented development. Other professional work includes significant experience with residential and mixed-use building design, traditional heavy timber frame design and construction, and freelance building design consultation for custom homes.
Providence, Rhode Island
Capturing that sense of place routinely experienced in everyday historic neighborhoods, Bill Dennis is an independent New Urban town planner with multiple decades experience in mixed-use, master-planned neighborhoods and the form-based codes that govern them. He’s been a trusted PlaceMakers collaborator since the early days of the firm and has brought great value to a wide variety of our projects — from rural visioning in South Georgia, to character preservation in Taos, New Mexico, to traditional neighborhood development outside Omaha, Nebraska.
A principal of his own B. Dennis Town & Building Design, Bill grew up in Dayton and received his Bachelors of Architecture from the University of Cincinnati. He believes that informed design of both places and the buildings within them can enrich all of the patterns that encompass our lives.
A frequent contributor to PlaceMakers projects, Peter Swift is a transportation planner, engineer, co-author of the ITE/CNU’s Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares, and author of the pedestrian-friendly street design portion of the APA’s Planning and Urban Design Standards. A professional engineer in several states, he’s written a number of papers that have been pivotal to Complete Streets design, exploring both residential street typology and injury accident frequency. In his work, Peter addresses standards for context-sensitive thoroughfare networks, for both newly designed roadways, and for retrofitting existing ones.
The owner of Swift and Associates, Civil/Traffic Engineers and Town Planners, Peter’s been working within civil and traffic engineering and urban design for 40 years, twenty-five in his own business and two years in Iraq as the Director of Town Planning for a U.S. company.
It’s no wonder Scott Bernstein is such a valued PlaceMakers’ contributor. Appointed by President Clinton to the President’s Council for Sustainable Development, where he co-chaired its task forces on Metropolitan Sustainable Communities and on Cross-Cutting Climate Strategies, he’s contributed to Federal panels on climate change, development strategy, and science policy.
As the President and Co-Founder of the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), Scott works to understand and better disclose the economic value of resource use in urban communities, and helps craft strategies to capture the value of this efficiency both productively and locally. He studied at Northwestern University, served on the research staff of its Centre for Urban Affairs, taught at UCLA and was a founding Board member at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Centre. He further serves as a Fellow of the Centre for State Innovation, and works with governors, mayors and metropolitan organizations across the U.S.