Building up Portsmouth- Lisa DeStefano's firm hits 100 mark


PORTSMOUTH — From Haymarket Square to Portsmouth Middle School to the recently redesigned upstairs bar at Ristorante Massimo, Lisa DeStefano and her team appear to have had a hand in almost every major project in the Port City over the past 18 years.

DeStefano Architects, which was established in 1995, recently hit the century mark. This summer the Portsmouth-based architectural firm completed its 100th project downtown — with the redesign of a new upstairs bar at Ristorante Massimo, a popular Italian restaurant known for its quaint brick and stone ambiance.

DeStefano, a city native and principal at DeStefano Architects, said she is humbled by the distinction of designing 100 projects in downtown Portsmouth.

"I surely did not achieve 100 great projects alone," she said. "I am extremely proud of and grateful for our entire staff — an amazing group of architects who are not only talented, skilled and experienced, but dedicated and committed to rendering the best possible results for every project, no matter how large or small."

The list of DeStefano's "Portsmouth 100" includes new construction, building additions, comprehensive renovations, modernizations, rehabilitations, historic preservation work, one-of-a-kind residences, large-scale multi-use developments and storefronts.

"It gives us great pride to be surrounded so closely by a lot of our work," she said. "It's been a joy to be able to walk down the streets and know that we've been able to touch so many properties."

Some of the firm's most notable downtown developments are Harbour Place Condos, Hilton Garden Inn, the Strawbery Banke renovation, Poco's Bow Street Cantina, Porter Street townhouses and many private homes. Another of the 100 projects is the recently renovated and expanded Portsmouth Middle School. The new three-story, 30,000-square-foot addition serves up to 650 students in Grades 6-8.

Portsmouth Middle School Principal John Stokel said students and teachers are happy with their new school.

"Lisa DeStefano's vision and passionate advocacy for our renovation was essential to propelling the project forward," Stokel said. "The result is a perfect blend of environmental design strategies for energy-efficiency, with preservation of the historic building's character."

As the subject of DeStefano's 100th project, Ristorante Massimo owner Massimo Morgia said he considered it an honor.

"We are overjoyed with the exquisite results of the firm's work," he said. "I've always wanted to have a full bar in addition to the downstairs restaurant. Lisa DeStefano and her team helped make my dream come true."

DeStefano said one of her favorite projects over the years involved converting an old gas station at Haymarket Square into condominiums.

"We really anchored that corner with those residential condominiums," she said.

Over the years, DeStefano said her company has been fortunate to experience positive growth, adding several professionals to leadership positions within the company.

"The depth of our team's varied talents and skills never ceases to amaze me," she said. "I am very fortunate to have a great staff that is passionate about being creative and solving problems for clients. We also surround ourselves with wonderful consultants. So it's always a real team effort focused on meeting client needs and bringing their projects to fruition."

The firm also recently launched a new Web site,, that showcases the wide spectrum of its work.

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