Category Archives: urban planning

Strong Towns



What does it mean to be a Strong Town? Chuck Marohn, the Founder and President of Strong Towns, will provide some insights on Wednesday April 3 at 6:30 PM at the Portsmouth Public Library.

 

 THE PARADOX WE FACE 

Common belief is that supporting cities and towns that invest in community is an expensive process. What we often miss from this perspective is a comparison. For generations, local governments have focused on expanding and developing infrastructure for cars—often at the expense of pedestrian safety and community vitality. While liabilities have grown, transportation funding has not kept up. Now there is a desperate need to shift. Rather than build new, we need to maintain existing transportation infrastructure. Rather than emphasize expansion, we need to focus on existing investments. We face an important question: How do we get the most value out of our infrastructure investments while improving walkability, safety, and community strength? 

 

THE STRONG TOWNS APPROACH 

The Strong Towns approach is a radically new way of thinking about the way we build our world. We believe that in order to truly thrive, our cities and towns must: 

• Stop valuing efficiency and start valuing resilience 

• Stop betting on huge projects, and start taking smart steps 

• Stop fearing change and start embracing continuous adaptation 

• Stop building our world based on abstract theories, and start building it based on how our places actually work and what our neighbors actually need today 

• Stop obsessing over future growth and start obsessing about our current finances 

But most importantly, we believe that Strong Citizens from all walks of life must participate in a Strong Towns approach—from citizens to leaders, professionals to neighbors, and everyone in between. 

 

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Charles Marohn is the Founder and President of Strong Towns. He’s a Professional Engineer (PE) licensed in the State of Minnesota and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). Marohn has a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute.

Marohn is the lead author of Thoughts on Building Strong Towns — Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3 — as well as the author of A World Class Transportation System. He hosts the Strong Towns Podcast and is a primary writer for Strong Towns’ web content. He has presented Strong Towns concepts in hundreds of cities and towns across North America and in 2017 was named one of the 10 Most Influential Urbanists of all time by Planetizen. 

 

RSVP

We will reserve ample time for questions and discussion. The event is free and all are welcome. Please register here to help ensure sufficient seating.

Event Sponsors: Piscataqua Savings Bank, Rosamond Thaxter Foundation, Piscataqua Garden Club, Portsmouth Housing Authority, City of Portsmouth, and the Geoffrey E. Clark and Martha Fuller Clark Fund of the NH Charitable Foundation.

Event Partners: Seacoast Media Group, PortsmouthNH.com, Coruway Film Institute, and the Sailmaker House.

Accessory Dwelling Units


PS21 is pleased to partner with the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority to bring Kol Peterson to Portsmouth. Mr. Peterson is one of the country’s foremost experts on accessory dwelling units. He will be presenting  on Tuesday October 2 at 7 PM at the 3S Artspace. Please register online in order to ensure sufficient seating.

 An ADU can benefit you by being a self-contained apartment for a family member, a caregiver, or to use as a rental unit for additional income. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) – also known as granny flats, inlaw suites, and accessory apartments – are allowed in all New Hampshire communities by state statute. Accessory to the primary house on the property, whether attached to it (above a garage, on the side of the house, in an attic or basement) or detached (a converted garage or barn or new construction). 

Peterson’s book, Backdoor Revolution-The Definitive Guide to ADU Development, is the authoritative book about accessory dwelling units to date. It’s written for planners, ADU advocates, and homeowners who aspire to build ADUs. 

Peterson will cover the process of designing and building an ADU, and considerations including costs, financing, permitting, design, rental models, and more. He’ll also delve into why expanding the inventory of ADUs in New Hampshire will help homeowners, would-be renters, downsizers, and the availability of affordable housing for our state’s workforce and communities.

The event is presented by the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, and co-hosted by the Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast and PS21. The event’s lead sponsor is AARP. The Lodging Sponsor is The Sailmaker’s House. Event Partners are the Seacoast Media Group, PortsmouthNH.com, 3S Artspace, Coruway Film Institute, Riverwoods Durham, and Ambit Engineering.

Following the presentation, we will reserve ample time for questions and discussion. The event is free and all are welcome. Please register online in order to ensure sufficient seating.

Purchase Backdoor Revolution-The Definitive Guide to ADU Development online for $10 (a 60% discount) and pick it up at the event.

Phil Goff’s Presentation Now Available

Phil Goff is the New England planning and design leader for Alta Planning + Design’s Cambridge office. Alta is a Portland, OR-based consulting firm that specializes in active transportation facilities and programs. Goff has 20 years of experience in urban design, transportation planning and bicycle advocacy. A native of Keene, he has worked on various projects throughout the state and sits on the Board of the Bike-Walk Alliance of NH.

On May 23 at Portsmouth High School, Goff gave a presentation on innovations in bicycle facilities and design with recommendations for Portsmouth. Massachusetts cities such as Cambridge and Somerville have made great strides over that past 15 years in designing their compact and crowded streets to accommodate more bicycles. They have vastly increased the number of cycling commuters while reducing motor traffic and maintaining safety for all. There are a lot of creative ideas Portsmouth can borrow that are illustrated in Goff’s presentation.

Paris to Portsmouth


PS21 is excited and pleased to host one of the architects of the 2015 Paris Agreement, the historic accord on climate change that currently enjoys the support of nearly every nation in world. Dr. Edward Cameron will be joining us on Wednesday April 18 at 7:00 PM at 3S Artspace at 319 Vaughan Street.

Dr. Cameron will provide us with an overview of the Paris Agreement. This will include detail on the architecture of the Agreement, as any successful attempt to align municipal strategy with the Agreement should borrow from the architecture.

He will then proceed with an assessment of the climate policy of our federal government, followed by an overview of how other non-state actors in the United States are building a low-carbon climate-resilient economy with a particular emphasis on the private sector, as he views this as an exercise in economic development for the region.

Finally, he will give us a sense of what would be needed to build a climate strategy on the local level, along with some guidance as to what individuals can do to be agents of climate action.

Following the presentation, we will reserve ample time for questions and discussion. The event is free and all are welcome. Please register online to help ensure sufficient seating.

Upcoming Events

Paris to Portsmouth – Part II
In October, PS21 will assemble a panel of municipal officials from other New England cities to discuss their efforts to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Toderian Video Now Available

Brent Toderian’s presentation on Density Done Well on March 5 at 3S Arts Center was well attended. Mr. Toderian gave us plenty to think about.

In case you missed the presentation, PS21 has made a video of the event available here.

We were not entirely surprised when several of the concepts presented by Mr. Toderian on March 5 resurfaced five days later at the city’s public input session on plans for the reuse of the McIntyre federal building.

On March 6, PS21 brought Mr. Toderian to Concord to address an audience of land use professionals from throughout New Hampshire. It was a full house at Concord’s Red River Theatre. The video of that event is available below.

Density Done Well


Brent Toderian will be presenting on his signature topic, Density Done Well, at 3S Arts Center in Portsmouth on Monday March 5 at 7 PM. Doors will open at 6:30 PM. The event is free, and all are welcome. Please register in order to ensure sufficient seating.

On the following day, Mr. Toderian will present at the Red River Theatres in Concord at 10 AM. Doors will open at 9:30. This session will be geared toward land use practitioners throughout New Hampshire, although the general public is certainly welcome. We recommend that attendees register in advance for the Concord session.

Mr. Toderian is a passionate practitioner and advocate for creative, vibrant city-building. He is an internationally respected thought-leader with over 25 years of experience in advanced urbanism, city planning and urban design. He has advised and collaborated with cities, agencies and best-practice developers around the world, in Aukland, Brisbane, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Medellin, New York, Oslo, Rotterdam, and Sydney. He was formerly the Planning Director for the City of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Mr. Toderian is the founding president of the Council for Canadian Urbanism (CanU), and a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, Planetizen, CityLab and SPACING. Learn more about him at his web site.

The events’ lead sponsor is the NH Housing Finance Authority. Additional sponsors include the Piscataqua Savings Bank, Olde Port Properties, and the NH Planners Association. Event Partners are Plan NH, 3S Artspace, Seacoast Media Group, PortsmouthNH.com, GDI Design, and the Northern New England Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Brent Toderian on Density Done Well

Urban planner Brent Toderian will present at 3S Arts Center on Monday March 5 on his signature topic, Density Done Well. Doors will open at 6:30 PM. The presentation will commence at 7 PM.

Brent is a nationally and internationally respected practitioner and thought-leader with over 25 years of experience in advanced urbanism, city planning and urban design. In recent years he has advised and collaborated with cities, agencies and best-practice developers around the world, including the cities of Auckland, Brisbane, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Gold Coast, Groningen, Helsinki, Medellin, New York, Oslo, Perth, Rotterdam, and Sydney.

A passionate practitioner and advocate for creative, vibrant city-building, Brent is the founding President of the Council for Canadian Urbanism (CanU), and a regular writer with the Huffington Post, Planetizen, CityLab and SPACING. He is a highly sought-after international speaker, teacher and thought-leader on cities and issues of advanced urbanism.

Please note that PS21’s original plan to provide a live video feed from Vancouver to 3S Arts Center on January 25 has been cancelled, as we have persuaded Mr. Toderian to appear in person on March 5.

Matthijs Bouw Talk Draws Full House

The Levenson Room at the Portsmouth Library was at capacity on December 6 for a presentation by Dutch architect and urbanist Matthijs Bouw that illustrated his design for flood protection infrastructure in Manhattan, the philosophy behind that design, and the lessons that are applicable to Portsmouth.

Bouw’s firm is the publisher of Engagement by Design, a booklet that emphasizes the importance of engaging all stakeholders in the design process. See also this lively 4-minute video on proposed flood protection measures for lower Manhattan.

Matthijs Bouw to Speak on December 6

In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy sent a record storm surge of 13.88’ across New York Harbor, inundating large swaths of lower Manhattan. This prompted Mayor Michael Bloomberg to vow that the city would be prepared when the next storm strikes.

On Wednesday, December 6 at 6:30 PM at Portsmouth Public Library, PS21 will present one of the designers of New York’s new flood protection plan, Dutch architect and urbanist Matthijs Bouw. He is a founder of One Architecture, an award-winning Amsterdam and New York-based design and planning firm. Bouw will discuss his experience in New York designing protective infrastructure along Manhattan’s shoreline, and his work in the Netherlands. One third of the Netherlands is below sea level. The country has long been recognized for its sophisticated water management strategies.

Attendees will have an opportunity to discuss what lessons might apply to Portsmouth, and what infrastructure options might protect our city from a rising sea and storms of unprecedented scale. Scientists advise that climate change will bring more such storms, and with greater frequency, and that the effects will be exacerbated by a sea level that is projected to rise some 3 to 6 feet by the end of the century. It is not hard to imagine a storm surge of unprecedented height rolling up the Piscataqua on an incoming tide.

Bouw is the Rockefeller Urban Resilience Fellow for PennDesign at the University of Pennsylvania, and is developing the Chief Resilience Officer curriculum for 100 Resilient Cities. His firm co-leads the team that won the Rebuild by Design competition for the flood protection of Manhattan, and is currently part of the multi-disciplinary teams executing the first phase of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project for Lower Manhattan, as well as planning the Lower Manhattan Coastal Protection project. In Panama, Bouw is the urban designer in the ‘Water Dialogues’ team. In the Netherlands, his firm is part of the ‘Hackable City’ team for Buiksloterham, a large-scale brownfield redevelopment in Amsterdam-Noord based on the principles of the circular economy.

The event is free and all are welcome. Please register to help ensure sufficient seating.

Upcoming Events

Density Done Well: On January 25, urban planner Brent Toderian will be presenting via a live video feed from Vancouver on his signature topic that brought him international renown, Density Done Well. As he notes in his blog, It’s an understatement to say that the D-Word is a controversial subject in cities across North America. It needn’t be so though, and shouldn’t be, as when it’s done well, density is immensely important to the success of cities and regions.” Following the presentation, the local audience at 3S Arts Center will have an opportunity to pose questions to Mr. Toderian.