Category Archives: Retrofitting Suburbia

Retrofitting Suburbia: The Future of Real Estate


Fellow CNU board member, Ellen Dunham-Jones has a wonderful presentation up on TED Talks. I am lucky enough to be working on one of the projects she mentions, Mashpee Commons. She, as well as Galina Tahchieva with her Sprawl Repair Manual, have been doing a wonderful job pushing this emerging innovation in real estate development that is sure to help change the American landscape for the better.

How can your community address the following?

1. Plan for retrofitting  suburb locations at a regional scale. These projects are improved by their proximity to transit, and additional density in these locations can help waterways, food production and habitat recover from over development in other locations.

2. We must demand better architecture. New buildings must have a timeless quality that is flexible enough to change over time. The architecture must also be beautiful so people will love it, manage it and care for it as the building ages.

3. Everyone needs to demand more dynamic and sustainable places. Support the projects that are in you community, and “let the suburbs grow up” by voting yes on zoning, land use or planning bylaws that will allow retrofitting to be possible.

We are trying our best in Mashpee on all three of these, but there is still much more work to be done. Thank you Ellen for pushing this important innovation forward.

If you are interested in more details I recommend ordering Ellen’s new book, Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs