Robert Campbell: Cityscapes and Public Spaces

Architect and Critic Robert Campbell
Tuesday, October 6 at 7 PM at 3S Artspace

Robert Campbell, Architect and JournalistHistoric architecture and changing cityscapes will be the focus of architect and Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Robert Campbell’s special presentation in Portsmouth on Tuesday, October 6th at 3S Artspace, at 319 Vaughn Street.  The event will start with a community social hour co-hosted by Manypenny Murphy Architecture at 6 p.m., followed by Campbell’s talk at 7 p.m.,

This event is the first of a series planned by PS21 through May 2016.

Campbell’s talk, “Architecture Is the Art of Making Places,” will include photos and illustrations from many times and places.  “By looking at images from many times and places, we’ll try to identify what makes good and bad architecture,” says Campbell, who suggests that architectural principles transcend eras and locations.

Robert Campbell is a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism for his work as architecture critic of the Boston Globe. A resident of Cambridge, he was a regular columnist for the magazine Architectural Record for many years and is the co-author, with photographer Peter Vanderwarker, of Cityscapes of Boston: An American City Through Time, which the Chicago Tribune says “belongs on the bookshelf of anyone who cares about the fate of the American city.”

Support for “Architecture Is the Art of Making Places” is provided by Lassel Architects and Manypenny Murphy Architecture. The PS21 series is presented in partnership with: Piscataqua Savings Bank, Seacoast Rotary Club of Portsmouth, and Coruway Film Institute. Media sponsors are Seacoast Media Group and The Sound.

The event is free and all are welcome.

Two PS21 Events Now on Video

“Seacoast Transportation – New Modes of Getting Around” (5/12/2015)

The moderator is Bill Lyons, a principal technical adviser in transportation planning at the Volpe Center, the U.S. National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge. Panelists are Rad Nichols, executive director of the COAST bus system; Steve Pesci, of COAST and UNH Wildcat Transit bus systems ; and Scott Bogle, senior transportation planner at the Rockingham Planning Commission.

“Street Smarts:  Managing Parking, Traffic, and the Pedestrian Experience in Portsmouth” (4/30/2015)

Rick Chellman is a consultant on street design, traffic planning and urban design with more than 30 years experience.

Parking Policies for a Successful Downtown

What’s the first thing a city should do if it has a parking shortage?

At a PS21 event on April 2, Michael Manville said the city should “play with the prices” to get people to change when and where they park.

“It’s probably the first ten things you try,” he told an audience of about 100 at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth. “If you’re still not getting the return you want, you would think about adding supply.”

The question was one of many parking policy questions Manville, assistant professor of City & Regional Planning at Cornell University,  addressed during a presentation “Parking and Downtown Vitality” at 3S Artspace. Manville studies studies  the relationships between transportation and land use, and local public finance, with a particular emphasis on urban parking.

The presentation was funded in part by the Geoffrey E. Clark and Martha Fuller Clark Donor Fund of the NH Charitable Foundation.

Over the course of an hour, Manville built the case that properly priced parking is crucial to the success of downtowns.

He began by reminding the audience of the purpose of parking — simply put, to assure drivers they will find a parking spot. That’s why cities aim for 85 percent parking occupancy, rather than 100 percent. With examples and evidence ranging from Tulsa to California to Portsmouth, Manville explored the relationship between parking and downtown economies and how cities try to strike a balance between parking that is easy to find, cheap, and a reliable source of revenue. (Hint: you can’t have all three).


The event was the first in a PS21 series this spring that will look at what other communities have learned about transportation solutions for now and for the future.

The Coruway Film Institute, a series sponsor, recorded the presentation April 2 and Seacoast Media Group was media sponsor.

(SAVE THE DATE: Tuesday, April 28. Rick Chellman, who consults nationally and internationally about street design, and lives in downtown Portsmouth, will discuss two-way streets, on-street parking and the pedestrian experience in Portsmouth. )

Islington Street Corridor Plan Debuts After Citizen Input

After several days of discussions with residents and official, Town Planning & Urban Design Collaborative unveiled conceptual plan for the future of the West End/Islington Street Corridor (Feb. 23).

The plan looks far into the future and envisions a different, more cohesive and developed area. TPUDC will go away to polish the plan and then develop zoning guidelines down to the level of individual buildings. The new “character-based” zoning plan needs to be approved by the City Council before it can go into effect.

PS21 Hosts Virtual Walking Tour of Islington Corridor

More than 50 residents braved snow drifts and narrowed streets Tuesday evening (Feb. 10) for PS21’s ‘virtual walking tour’ of the Islington Street-West End neighborhood.

aerial view
Islingon Street Corridor

The photo tour, narrated by Joe Calderola, included aerial and street views, photos of historic homes, plans for the Islington Street Corridor, upcoming development, illustrations of the area’s character, and opportunities for the future.

The discussion afterward continued for an hour with participation from Portsmouth Planning Director Rick Taintor and  City Councilors Esther Kennedy and Stefany Shaheen. Karen Marzloff of PS21 moderated.

The tour presentation provided an overview of the area, which will be the subject of  a 4-day public workshop on ‘character-based’ zoning Friday thru Monday, Feb. 20-23.

The workshop will be at the Frank Jones Center, 400 Route One Bypass, Portsmouth, except the final, Monday, which is at City Hall.

During the ‘charrette,’ or design workshop, the public will be able to drop in at any time from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday. Citizens can view maps and materials, talk with zoning consultants,  and leave comments.

In addition, a number of specific sessions are scheduled:

  • Friday, Feb. 20 – Introduction to the Process, 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 21 – Roundtable Discussions
    10:00 a.m. – Business, Landowners and Developers
    12:30 p.m. – Building Scale & Design
    2:00 p.m. – Public Realm & Civic Spaces
    (The public is invited to all roundtables, including “Business, Landowners and Developers.”)
  • Sunday, Feb. 22 – Interim Conclusions Plus Review, 5 p.m.
  • Monday, Feb. 23 – Closing Presentation, 6 p.m., City Hall.

For additional details about the design charrette, visit the City of Portsmouth web page about the character-based zoning.

Jeff Speck suggests ways to a more walkable Portsmouth

Jeff Speck Portsmouth NH
Walking Congress Street with Jeff Speck

Renowned urban planner Jeff Speck gave a provocative, idea-filled (and often funny) presentation and workshop in Portsmouth Jan. 22 and Jan. 23. Around 200 people came to the presentation 60 to the workshop. Speck talked about how cities work   and suggested ways  that Portsmouth can become more liveable and successful  through ‘walkability.’

Watch on YouTube:

Read about Jeff Speck’s ideas in The Sound.

Portsmouth Herald: ‘Councilors intrigued by planner’s vision for the city

Before a full house at Seacoast Repertory Theatre on Thursday, Jan. 22


Did you attend? Fill out our 3-question survey.

Primary funding for this event was provided by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the City of Portsmouth, with additional support from Esther’s Marina, Piscataqua Savings Bank,  and

Seacoast Local featured the event as a partner in their “Making the Connection” speaker series. Seacoast Media Group was media sponsor.  Many local businesses and individuals also contributed.

North End Walk Draws 50; Charrette Begins

North End Walk
Around 50 people turned out in chill weather for a citizen-led walking tour of the North End hosted by PS21  (Portsmouth Smart 21st Century) on Saturday. Above, PS21’s Karen Marzloff addresses the crowd.

Participants discussed current and potential development in the neighborhood, and the character of the North End in anticipation of the City of Portsmouth’s Nov. 10-13 charrette on ‘character-based’ zoning.

The charrette begins with a public presentation and hands-on workshop at 6 p.m. Monday in the former Portsmouth Herald building on Maplewood Avenue.  Above, Karen Marzloff of PS21 addresses participants. For more information on the charrette, see

Notes on Oct. 22 Workshop with Plan NH

More than 30 people attended a PS21 event on Oct. 22, a workhop with the statewide nonprofit Plan New Hampshire. Plan NH’s Robin LeBlanc says the workshop aims to “shift” thinking about the future by examining assumptions about life here, conversations that are going on, and questions people have or might ask about the coming decades.

Below are notes on the wide-ranging discussion as recorded by PS21’s Jerry Zelin.

Robin LeBlanc leads Plan NH workshop with PS21A Workshop, “SHIFT,” led by Robin LeBlanc of Plan NH
7-9 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 22
Portsmouth Middle School Auditorium

Notes by Jerry Zelin

Doug Roberts: Announces a North End walk scheduled for 10-11 a.m. Nov. 8, 2014, 10 A.M., starting at on Maplewood AvenueCindy Ann Cleaners, to discuss possibilities for each lot in the North End.

Robin LeBlanc: She has lived in New Hampshire for 30 years, currently Exec. Dir. of Plan New Hampshire.

Audience: Attendees introduce themselves. Most live in Portsmouth. Some live in Eliot, Durham, etc.

Robin: Plan NH develops workshops like this, to trigger shifts in thinking about the future of towns and cities. Not Portsmouth-specific but for any community …

Audience at Plan NH workshop
Why did people move here?

Vibrant downtown
Near ocean
Historic character
Creative community
Socio-economic diversity when moved here

Robin: Those are our values. How would a real estate broker describe Portsmouth?
Continue reading Notes on Oct. 22 Workshop with Plan NH

Portsmouth Lagging on Traffic Enforcement

A comparison with Dover and Concord suggests that speeding and traffic enforcement has been a lower priority in Portsmouth.

In 2013, Dover police issued 659 written warning and summonses per patrol officer and Concord, issued around 390, according to the departments.

During the same period, Portsmouth patrol officers issued 68 tickets and written warnings per officer .

Traffic enforcement comparison Continue reading Portsmouth Lagging on Traffic Enforcement

Bike-Ped Plan Adopted; Projects in the Pipeline

Portsmouth’s Planning Board has adopted a voluminous and detailed master plan for the city’s bicycle and pedestrian future. The long-term goal is to create a largely unbroken network of safe and useful bike paths and pedestrian walkways throughout the city.

The plan includes programs to be initiated (such as for bike safety), and more than 200 specific infrastructure changes (large PDF). Changes include revamped intersections, new bike paths, updated sidewalks and more.

Juliet Walker, city transportation planner, described some the first projects that will be undertaken.

Continue reading Bike-Ped Plan Adopted; Projects in the Pipeline