Every year the Plan NH Merit Awards recognize and showcase outstanding projects that reflect the mission and values of Plan NH and demonstrate how the built environment can make a positive contribution to people and places. The Merit Award program uplifts those nominated projects that champion Smart Growth and Livability Principles, the Triple Bottom Line (social, environmental and economic), and creative approaches to collaboration and cooperation.
Plan NH opens the call for nominations each spring. All submissions are then reviewed by a jury of diverse professionals from across the state. Award winners are announced at the annual Plan NH Awards Evening.
The 2022 Awardees were announced at the Plan NH Awards Evening on June 22. Read more about the winners below!
Lebanon Downtown Tunnel Project, VHB
Plan NH Merit Awardee 2022
2022 Merit Award of Excellence Projects
The Awards evening took place at The Hotel Concord on June 22, 2022. View the presentation slides here.
Thank you to our 2022 event sponsors: The Hotel Concord, Nathan Wechsler & Company, Stibler Associates, and Resilient Buildings Group.
Owner: Orbit Group - Liz Hitchcock
The Factory on Willow, Manchester
The Factory on Willow sits prominently on Willow Street in Manchester. Dating back to 1904, this mill building was originally the McElwain Shoe Factory and at the economic center of Manchester’s manufacturing industry. Fast forward and the building had become 90,000 square feet of vacant, dilapidated space with no future in sight, until Liz Hitchcock had a vision of transforming this historic building into a vibrant mixed-use community. The redevelopment included much-needed downtown housing, commercial space for entrepreneurs, community space for gathering and collaboration, and pedestrian and bicycle connectivity with the surrounding area.
The renovation involved significant environmental abatement and historic preservation. It took two years to complete with the first occupants moving in during March of 2021. Today, The Factory on Willow includes 60 freshly renovated open-concept studio units as well as 16 Airbnb units that provide housing to traveling nurses and out of town guests. The outdoor gathering space, food truck patio, and an amphitheater that will open this summer, further demonstrate the owner’s focus on bringing people together and fostering community. This project has certainly had a positive impact in a long-neglected neighborhood in Manchester, creating a vibrant hub for the whole community.
- The project honors the history of the site while providing 21st century choices.
- This building is about connections and community.
- A step in the right direction towards helping to solve New Hampshire’s significant housing challenges.
- Great example of a true mixed-use development in a blighted neighborhood – this will likely spark further redevelopment in the neighborhood. The project honors the history of the site while providing 21st century choices.
- New Hampshire has significant housing challenges, especially those that provide quality community experiences. This building is a step in the right direction towards helping to solve this problem.
Owner: Visions for Creative Housing Solutions
Visions Green Street, Lebanon
The mission of Visions for Creative Housing Solutions is to provide residential options, services and support designed to meet the needs of adults with developmental disabilities and similar disabling conditions. By extensively renovating two existing residential buildings and creating much needed housing for developmentally challenged adults, this project hit at the heart of the Visions mission. The renovations included accessibility improvements and Universal Design, upgrading the thermal envelope and mechanical systems to increase efficiency and comfort for the new residents, and reconfiguring the layout within each unit to foster a sense of community while balancing privacy for the individual residents.
The renovation and restoration serve as an example to the wider community of how existing infrastructure can be rescued and given new life. The proximity to downtown Lebanon and a wide range of community resources, such as public transportation, helped the team achieve the goal of providing safe housing, accessible to all the potential needs of the residents. In addition, this project involved an impressive degree of community engagement with the neighborhood residents and above and beyond relocation services provided to the existing tenants who lived in the property upon its purchase.
Visions for Creative Housing Solutions
DuBois & King
Estes & Gallup, Inc
Resilient Buildings Group
Nickerson Development Services
- This project gets a “10” for social and inclusivity. There is a huge need for this type of housing in our communities.
- Great location, great asset to the community.
- Huge team effort, from fundraising to construction.
- The re-use and walkable proximity to downtown and public transportation make this a smart use of the property.
- Provides a sense of belonging to tenants and preservation of the existing neighborhood.
Owner: Meredith Public Library, Town of Meredith
Meredith Public Library Addition & Renovations, Meredith
The addition and renovations to the existing Meredith Public Library not only enhance the physical building and property, but also maximize the resources they are able to offer the wider community. In addition to their current programs, from story time and game nights to sewing classes and educational programs that contribute to workforce development, there are now modern and functional gathering spaces to support their role as a central community hub. The new and updated spaces include a children’s room, teen room, makerspace, and genealogy room. Additional updates include expanded parking, a new elevator, new sidewalks, updated ADA accessibility, and improved fire safety and egress.
Collaboration and cooperation were key elements of this project’s success that are worth noting. Strong community outreach included postcards, flyers, surveys, presentations, and public meetings that involved community members in the planning process and helped garner wide support for the project. While no small undertaking, this project was a cost-effective way for the Town of Meredith to provide their community with a true multipurpose facility for all ages, while also preserving and honoring the historic features of the existing library. The well thought out design and functionality of the addition and renovations ensures that the Meredith Public Library will serve the community for years to come – and right in the heart of the Town’s downtown and waterfront areas!
- Great example of enhancement of a critical community center.
- Reinforcing historic downtown and providing accessible services supports a strong community, free and accessible to all.
- This is a building that will enhance the community for a long time to come.
- Engaging the community members during the project development showed a commitment to making the space work for everyone.
- Expansion of a historical building in the heart of Meredith – the building looks spectacular!
Owner: City of Lebanon
Lebanon Downtown Tunnel Project, Lebanon
The City of Lebanon’s 2016 Downtown Vision Plan and Tunnel Assessment identified the rehabilitation of their former downtown railroad tunnel as a key priority project for their community. At that time, they set forth a vision that included a pedestrian friendly shared use path connecting to and revitalizing the above plaza and adjacent parking lot. Speaking to the power of community visioning and planning, this project was completed in less than six years from the time of the initial assessment study.
Complex and multifaceted, this project included structural design of the tunnel, landscape architecture to enhance the plaza aesthetic and create a concourse to anchor the north end of the mall, lighting design for the tunnel as well as the plaza above the tunnel, design of a CCTV system for enhanced safety inside the tunnel, utility design and coordination, refurbishment of the parking lot area, and transportation engineering to design the multi-use trail and associated wayfinding signage. From incorporating natural light, to connecting the trail system, to increasing foot traffic downtown, the project team utilized outside of the box thinking every step of the way. The resulting tunnel and plaza improvements contribute towards a more vibrant and safer downtown area and will support the quality of life and economic vitality for the City of Lebanon for generations to come.
- Capitalized on the historic characteristics of the tunnel structure while thinking outside the box.
- An important link in the rail trail system with immediate benefits for cyclists and pedestrians.
- Helps drive foot traffic to the downtown.
- The space is open and inviting – not something you would expect in a tunnel. The addition of natural light into the space was a great idea.
- From the visioning study through completion, collaboration and communication drive the successful support required to meet the project goals.
Congratulations to our 2022 Merit Awards winners. Stay tuned for 2023!
How Does it Work
Plan NH believes that what we build, where we build, and how we build influences the health and vibrancy of the community. One part of our mission is to show how that works – to our New Hampshire communities, and to the planners, designers and builders who shape them.
The annual Plan NH Merit Awards Program is one way we do this. The Awards recognize New Hampshire projects that have a positive influence on a community or neighborhood, incorporate Smart Growth and Livability principles, social responsibility, and/or creative approaches to collaboration and cooperation.
Submitted nominations are reviewed by a Committee of diverse professionals, and outstanding projects are selected to receive an Award