Ellen Dunham-Jones

Director of Urban Design Program and Professor, School of Architecture
(404) 894-0648

View Dunham-Jones's C.V.

Ellen Dunham-Jones is Coordinator of the MS in Urban Design. She teaches “Theories of Urban Design,” “Retrofitting Suburbia” and urban design studios.

A leading authority on suburban redevelopment, she and June Williamson wrote Retrofitting Suburbia; Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs (Wiley & Sons, 2009, update in 2011, mandarin edition in 2013). The book documents successful retrofits of vacant big box stores, dead malls, aging office parks, etc., into more sustainable places. The book received the PROSE award from the American Association of Publishers as best architecture/urban planning book of 2009, was featured in Time Magazine’s March 23, 2009 cover story, “10 ideas changing the world right now” and is the subject of her 2010 TED talk and 2012 TED-NPR Radio Hour interview. She appeared in the 2011 documentary Urbanized, the 2012 PBS series “Designing Healthy Communities” and was recently interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition. She continues to build her database of suburban retrofits, lecture widely, and publish successful strategies for meeting 21st century challenges.

Ellen’s published over 60 additional papers linking contemporary architectural theory and practice. Most recently, “Irrational Exuberance: Rem Koolhaas in the Nineties” in the 2013 book Architecture and Capitalism was named one of the ten most popular essays of 2013 by The Design Observer Group.  

She has served in several national leadership roles including Board Chair of the Congress for the New Urbanism, AIA Design and Health Leadership Group, the Hanley Wood Sustainability Council, and the advisory boards of the Journal of Urbanism, Places, (in)Forma, the Livability Index, and is chair of the board of Commons Planning.

She received undergraduate and graduate degrees in architecture from Princeton University and taught at UVA and MIT before joining Georgia Tech’s faculty to serve as Director of the Architecture Program from 2001-2009. 

Educational Background
1980 – A.B. in architecture and planning, summa cum laude, Princeton University
1983 – M.Arch, Princeton University


  • Sustainable Urban Design
  • Suburban Redevelopment – (Re-inhabitation, Re-Greening, and Redevelopment of dead malls, big box stores, office parks, etc.)
  • New Urbanism & Smart Growth
  • Health and Urban Design
  • Post-Industrial Development Patterns and Globalization
  • Contemporary Architectural Theory

While I continue to maintain interest in contemporary architectural theory and in the impact of the post-industrial economy on global development patterns, I am primarily focused on expanding my research on suburban retrofits in the following areas: metrics comparing before and after social, economic, and environmental performance to assess sustainability; additional examples of re-inhabitation, re-greening, and redevelopment; retrofitting suburbia for an aging population; case studies of morphological changes; tools for the assessment and modeling of retrofittability; regional design/planning targeting appropriate locations for different retrofit strategies; strategies/case studies for improving architectural design excellence in urban/suburban design

Recent Publications

  • Dunham-Jones, E. & Williamson, J.  Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons. 256 pages. First printing December 2008, second printing in May, 2009, third printing in January 2010, updated paperback edition printed in March,2011.

Parts of Books:

  • Dunham-Jones, E., “Foreword: Atlanta, Public Health, and New Urbanism?” in Lerner J. (Ed.), Building Metropolitan Atlanta: Past, Present & Future, (pp.1-2), www.lulu.com, 2010.
  • Dunham-Jones, E., “Free Trade Zones, Downtown Financial Cores, and Sprawl: the Landscapes of  Globalization “ in Owen G., (Ed.), Architecture, Ethics, & Globalization, (pp. 17-32), London: Taylor & Francis, 2009
  • Dunham-Jones, E., “New Urbanism: A Forum not a Formula” in Hass T., (Ed.), New Urbanism and Beyond: Designing Cities for the Future, (pp.70-73) New York, Rizzoli. 2008
  • Re-publication of “New Urbanism’s Subversive Marketing” (2005) in Blauvelt A, (Ed.), Worlds Away, New Suburban Landscapes, New York, D.A.P. 2008. Catalog to exhibition of the same name at the Walker Art Center, Heinz Architectural Center and Yale School of Architecture.
  • Re-publication of “New Urbanism, A Counter-Project to Post-Industrialism” (2000) in Kelbaugh D. & McCullogh K. (Eds.), Writing Urbanism, An ACSA Reader, (pp.185-193) London, Routledge, 2008
  • Dunham-Jones, E., “Economic Sustainability in the Post-Industrial Landscape,” commissioned  essay in Tanzer K.,  and Longoria R. (Eds.), The Green Braid, Towards an Architecture of Ecology Economy, and Equity, An ACSA Reader. (pp.44-59) London, Routledge, 2007
  • Dunham-Jones E., “Seventy-Five Percent” and “Smart Growth in Atlanta” republished in Saunders,  W. S., (Ed.), Sprawl and Suburbia, A Harvard Design Magazine Reader, (pp.1-20 and 57-70) Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005
  • Dunham-Jones, E. “New Urbanism’s Subversive Marketing,” in M. Shamiyeh (Ed.), What People Want, Populism in Architecture and Design (pp.255-269). Basel, Birkhauser, 2005

Recent Exhibitions

Team leader for “LWARPS-we can reduce sprawl”, winner of the Infiniti Award for Extraordinary Design and 2nd Place in the 2008 History Channel’s City of the Future design competition for visions of Atlanta in 2108. This proposal has since been exhibited numerous times:

  • 2010 – included in the traveling exhibition “Adapting Suburbs in the 21st Century” and displayed at the Rochester Regional Community Design Center in Rochester NY, the Museum of Design Atlanta, and will travel to Seattle, WA. Ellen Dunham-Jones served as an advisor to the exhibition based largely on Retrofitting Suburbia and organized by the Rochester Regional Community design Center. 
  • 2008 – included in “Modern Atlanta,” Mason Murer Gallery, Atlanta, GA
  • 2008 – included in “City of the Future Exhibition,” Ernest G. Welch Gallery, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.

Recent Courses

  • Arch 4803/CoA 6120: Retrofitting Suburbia (interdisciplinary seminar)
  • Arch 7060/7090: Critical Positions and Masters Project Studio (required thesis prep and studio)
  • Arch 4822/6132: Architectural Theory and Criticism II (required lecture course)

Current PhD Committee member:

  • Jaechoel Kim
  • Dawn Haynie