Interested in sponsoring an event? Complete the form below or contact us at or (603) 842-5682.

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How can a mall or office park or other unused commercial spaces be retrofitted to meet our region’s needs? Imagine converting these types of buildings into affordable housing or retrofitting these areas to reduce our dependence on cars while increasing water and energy resilience.


Picture a retrofit of a mall that creates an inviting space for young people and also welcomes those who want to age in place in their community.

Architect, author and urbanist Ellen Dunham-Jones will discuss how the sprawling commercial infrastructure of the 20th century such as malls, big box stores, office parks and oversized parking lots can be retrofitted to innovatively address these urgent issues, as well as climate change.

Ellen Dunham-Jones is a professor of architecture and directs the urban design degree at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She was voted one of the world's 100 most influential urbanists by Planetizen and hosts the Redesigning Cities podcast. She is the author most recently of Case Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Strategies for Urgent Challenges.

Presented by

Portsmouth Smart Growth


Sponsored by

New Hampshire Housing

Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast

Plan NH

Piscataqua Savings Bank

PHA Housing Development



3S Artspace


Our signature housing design charrettes transform the way communities approach the issues of housing affordability, availability, and diversity. Each charrette is a process that includes local coalition-building, community engagement, education and technical assistance, and a series of feedback loops. Our charrettes harness the expertise of volunteer housing industry professionals to help towns and cities reevaluate their land use regulations and develop creative strategies tailored to the needs and desires of the community.


“The charette was a very informative, hands-on project that broadened the perspective of all participants on ways to accommodate housing that would contribute to the fabric of our Town center in a positive way. The charette "team" assembled by the Coalition brought experience, insight, and creativity to the project. Before the charette, I thought I knew about all there was to know about housing options for our community, but the charette process teased-out some paths for future housing development that I had not envisioned, and we hope to build on what we learned.”

— Jeff Gowan, Planning Director, Town of Pelham

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Covers FRONT Rochester Charrette

If your community is interested in hosting a workforce housing design charrette, contact Sarah Wrightsman at for more information.