Video Podcast: How Suburban America Is Changing

Architecture Professors Ellen Dunham-Jones and June Williamson dive deep into what is reshaping the fabric of suburban settings.

Ellen Dunham-Jones (left) and June Williamson (right) co-authored a book containing a collection of case studies for retrofitting suburbia. Images courtesy of Ellen Dunham-Jones & June Williamson

American suburbs are being redeveloped, reinhabited or regreened. Over the years, they’ve been undergoing massive transformations that have brought them into the 21st century, catering to people’s changing needs and becoming healthier, community-serving places.

June Williamson, professor at the City College of New York’s Spitzer School of Architecture, and Ellen Dunham-Jones, professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, have been tracking changes in suburban areas since the early 1990s. They put their observations in a series of books about retrofitting suburbia, hoping that they will serve both young architects and city planners who are looking for models to replicate in their own suburban areas. Their first book, Retrofitting Suburbia, was published in 2008 and updated in 2011.

The pair’s second bookCase Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Strategies for Urgent Challenges, released in 2021—serves the starting point of an insightful conversation between the two authors and Commercial Property Executive Senior Editor Laura Calugar. In this special video edition of our podcasts, they dive into what is stimulating change in how and where people live, and discuss trends shaping suburban America.

Here are some episode highlights:

  • Who needs their latest book? (1:17)
  • How the case studies were chosen (2:14)
  • How people’s new needs are impacting suburban redevelopment (7:19)
  • What is happening to previously bustling urban core areas (12:23)
  • Second downtowns (17:46)
  • How will suburban America look like in 10 years? (24:27)
  • What is hampering more retrofits in suburban America? (26:10)
  • Where to you find the book (31:35) 

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