AIA 150


A New Hampshire Community Planning Model

For eighteen months in 2007-2008 the New Hampshire AIA150 team and Durham officials, residents, and stakeholders worked together to articulate a vision for a redeveloped Mill Plaza property in Durham.

Video of the AIA150 Initiative: A video of the NH Community Planning Model process, adaptable for other New Hampshire communities, is available. This tool enables us to share the lessons learned with other communities throughout the Sate and the Region. Please contact the AIA New Hampshire office to receive your free copy, 603-357-2863.

The Durham/AIA150 Community Partnership was honored by the NH Planners Association with its "Plan of the Year" Award. (look under Events-Programs/Awards/2008).
See press release.

Final Project Report:
The Durham Mill Plaza Study Committee presented a final report and practical recommendations to help guide the redevelopment of the Mill Plaza property before the Town Council in May 2008. The report includes studies, reports, and drawings developed over the past year by AIA150 volunteer architects and landscape architects in a collaborative effort with the MPSC and residents of Durham. It contains clear recommendations and summarizes public feedback on a variety of important issues including commercial mix, housing, site access, the College Brook/Faculty Neighborhood buffer, and the library. The report was accepted by the Town Council with an indication that the Town would endeavor to ensure that the recommendations are carried out. You can access the report here.

The design concepts were made in three rounds over the past year by three teams of architects (see below). All along the designers have considered the Durham community vision; relationships with stakeholders, such as the University and local business owners; communication with the property owner; economic analysis studies; a study of the College Brook and environmental issues; examination of traffic issues; LEED Neighborhood criteria; the AIA's 10 Principles on Livable Communities; and feedback from the public at four earlier meetings. The final report and recommendations to the Town Council will draw upon design elements in all of the drawings, rather than presenting one as a final product alone.

Unfortunately for us all, the recession of 2008 prevented any further progress on this great foundation for a redeveloped Mill Plaza.

(Please scroll below for detailed information on the AIA150 initiative and what it means for communities in New Hampshire.)

AIA150 Task Force:
The AIA150 Task Force is led by Patricia Sherman FAIA and Michael Castagna.
The AIANH AIA150 Team is a collaborative effort among AIANH, PlanNH, The Jordan Institute, the Granite State Landscape Architects, the NH Preservation Alliance, and includes independent interested professionals as well.

Design Teams
Our thanks to the dedicated professionals willing to give their time pro-bono to work on design concepts for this initiative. The teams included:

Team 1:
Chris Drobat AIA (team leader), Chris Urner, Michael McKeown Assoc. AIA, (all from Lavallee Brensinger Architects)
Team 2:
Bill Schoonmaker AIA, Schoonmaker Architects (team leader), Nick Isaak AIA, Robbi Woodburn ASLA, Woodburn & Co., and Walter Rous, architect.
Team 3:
Bruce Dicker FAIA (team leader), Fabianna Orlando Assoc. AIA, Rob Westhelle Assoc. AIA, Michael Tague AIA, Tom Ingebritson (all from JSA, Inc.), and Elizabeth Dudley ASLA, The Outdoor Room.

For a complete list of volunteers in this effort, click here.

Our AIA150 Initiative:
Our AIA150 initiative demonstrated how design professionals can work together with the community in the planning, design, and development process. The goal was to plan a mixed-use development for a downtown property in Durham, N.H. and to obtain permits by the end of 2008. The selected site is The Mill Plaza that is adjacent to the University of New Hampshire. The redevelopment will demonstrate design and construction principles that are environmentally sustainable, affordable, and in keeping with community character. AIANH worked with Durham’s civic leadership (including elected officials, nonprofits, media, and local citizens). Durham is now working with the owner and developer/s to move the project forward.

The town of Durham and the AIANH AIA150 Team partnered to form The Durham/AIA150 Community Partnership.

The pro-bono work of AIANH and its team was part of the "Blueprint for America" initiative.

The Blueprint for America was the primary program of AIA150, a yearlong observance in 2007 that will mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the AIA. The Blueprint program was created to offer citizens in communities across America an opportunity to celebrate their community heritage, address emerging architectural challenges and trends, and find their voices to help make their vision real for beautiful, safe, and livable communities. Blueprint for America initiatives continue to evolve.

The community planning model was based on "AIA's Ten Principle's for Livable Communities" which challenge architects to demonstrate how good design is an investment and that well-designed communities attract and benefit residents, businesses, and visitors, and meet the needs of present and future generations alike.

For information on the ten principles, go to

For additional information on NH's AIA150 project: NH AIA150 NH General Information