DeStefano Architects Completes 100th Project in Downtown Portsmouth


DeStefano Architects Completes 100th Project in Downtown Portsmouth

Growing firm launches new website, adds key employees

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – DeStefano Architects (D|A) has hit the century mark.  This summer the renowned 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.  In addition, D|A has added key employees and recently launched a new website at

“I am humbled by the distinction of designing 100 projects in downtown Portsmouth, where I was raised, and where I chose to establish my company,” said Lisa DeStefano, D|A Principal.  “I surely did not achieve 100 great projects alone.  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.” 

Ristorante Massimo Owner, Massimo Morgia, said, “It is a great honor to be the 100th project by DeStefano Architects.  We are overjoyed with the exquisite results of the firm’s work.  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.” 

Established in 1995, DeStefano Architects is known for its experience and versatility designing a wide range of projects.  D|A’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. Some of the firm’s most notable downtown developments are Harbour Place Condos; Hilton Garden Inn; the Strawbery Bank renovation; Poco’s Bow Street Cantina; Porter Street Condos and many beautiful homes. 

“In a city where our history and architecture is critical to our economic success, Lisa DeStefano and her team have successfully honored that history while keeping Portsmouth moving forward,” said former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand.  “DeStefano Architects has played a leading role in helping Portsmouth become a national model for balancing historic preservation with growth in a dynamic 21st century community.” 

Another of D|A’s 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 the 6th, 7th and 8th grades. 

“Students are happy and teachers are thrilled with their ‘new’ school,” said Portsmouth Middle School Principal, John Stokel.  “Lisa DeStefano’s vision and passionate advocacy for our renovation was essential to propelling the project forward. The result is a perfect blend of environmental design strategies for energy-efficiency, with preservation of the historic building’s character.” 

D|A maintains a diverse practice, assisting clients in both the private and public sectors.  

D|A is also celebrating steady company-wide growth, adding several key professionals to leadership positions within the company.   It now employs more design professionals than ever.  The firm recently launched a new website that showcases the wide spectrum of its work.  Residential and commercial clients can easily navigate the user-friendly site to view samplings of D|A’s diverse portfolio.  

DeStefano praised the D|A team of professionals, saying, “The depth of our team’s varied talents and skills never ceases to amaze me.  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.” 

D|A is also known for its ability to work proficiently with various boards, committees and commissions in Portsmouth and elsewhere.  The company’s expertise in this area has earned a notable success rate for helping its clients gain permits and other approvals. 

“We build business by building relationships; and for those 100 projects, I’ve represented clients and presented plans at several hundred meetings of the City Council, Planning Board, Historic District Commission and others,” DeStefano mused.  

When asked how to characterize D|A’s list of 100 projects, DeStefano offered the following categories: 

Most Dramatic Makeovers

  1. RiRa, the Irish Pub:  renovation of a 200-year-old bank building to accommodate an Irish Pub
  2. Haymarket Condominiums:  demolition of an existing gas station and design of new construction condominium building according to city Master Plan of urban infill
  3. 111 Maplewood:  outdated former Portsmouth Herald headquarters given a fresh breath and new design for multiple tenants
  4. Porter Street Townhouses:  an empty lot redeveloped into residences that reinforce the idea of "streetscape," in style of traditional seaside New England townhouses
  5. Harbour Place Condominium #3:  raw space transformed into an elegant home that reflects careful planning to make the most of a smaller space 

Most Notable Gathering Spaces

  1. Ristorante Massimo:  renovation of a former retail space into a new bar to accompany an iconic Portsmouth restaurant
  2. Poco's Deck:  relocation of a bustling restaurant deck overlooking a working waterfront that incorporates sustainable materials
  3. Music Hall Street Closure:  incorporation of inside and outside design technique to provide patrons with an outdoor foyer to gather before a show
  4. Portsmouth Gaslight:  design of renovation for a top floor dance club, street-level restaurant, below ground pizzeria, and outside patio gathering spaces
  5. 100 Club:  renovation of an existing conference space to a more refined, private dining space including conference rooms, balcony, bar and lounge 

Most Unusual Projects

  1. Ceres Street Trash Compactor:  design of an enclosure in a highly visible area on the waterfront
  2. Sarah Mildred Long Bridge:  operator house renovation
  3. Orion Seafood:  interior office renovation, including test kitchen 

Making the Most of Small Spaces

  1. Two Ceres Street Martini Bar:  sustainable design for a martini bar attached to a popular downtown waterfront restaurant
  2. Federal Cigar, 22 Ladd Street:  renovation of a historic cigar shot to modernize and include a smoking lounge
  3. Just Brew It coffee shop, 100 Market Street:  coffee and tea shop to serve a multi-business building 


Photo Captions: 

HarbourBefore – Gutted living space before being transformed into Harbour Place Condominium #3 by DeStefano Architects
HarbourAfter – DeStefano Architects’ designed this elegant home through careful planning to make the most of a smaller place

Massimo’s – Ristorante Massimo’s new upstairs bar area, the 100th downtown project designed by DeStefano Architects


About DeStefano Architects
DeStefano Architects is a full service architectural firm founded in 1995.  The company maintains a diverse practice, assisting clients in both the private and public sectors.  Its projects vary from one-of-a-kind custom residences, to large scale multi-use developments.  DeStefano is comprised of accomplished and enthusiastic professionals.  The firm’s cumulative expertise spans three decades and is rich in professional interests and specialties.  Past projects include new construction and building additions, as well as comprehensive renovations, modernization, rehabilitation, and historic preservation work. The company’s continued involvement with local and state agencies has kept it current with the comprehensive regulatory requirements and building codes governing today's construction industry.

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