Development Codes & Form-Based Codes

View All

“The City of Flagstaff had a uniquely complex and hard-to-apply zoning code. Opticos Design and their team were the perfect choice to unravel the existing code’s complexity and challenges. It was a pleasure working with the staff at Opticos, not only for their experience and knowledge, but also for their creativity, sense of humor when needed, and resilient commitment to ensuring that the best possible final product was achieved despite budgetary limitations. Thank you for a job well done!”

- Roger Eastman, Zoning Code Administrator, City of Flagstaff, AZ
Citywide Land Development Code Update, Austin, Texas
Beaufort County Form-Based Code, Beaufort County, South Carolina
South Kauai Community Plan and Form-Based Code, Kauai, Hawaii
Flagstaff Development Code Rewrite with Form-Based Code, Flagstaff, Arizona
Downtown Plan and Form-Based Code, Mesa, Arizona (Built work produced by the code shown)
Akanda Masterplan and SmartCode, Libreville, Gabon, Africa

We are international leaders in Form-Based Coding, a revolutionary approach to land development regulation that promotes more vibrant, sustainable, urban patterns and walkable communities. We do not write Form-Based Codes because they are the latest fad, but rather because our experience as urbanists has shown us that a form and place-based approach is the most effective way to regulate walkable, urban places. For the past 20 years, we helped pioneer the practice: we wrote the first comprehensive book on the subject, co-founded the Form-Based Codes Institute, and have the most diverse Form-Based Coding experience in the country, with an oft-imitated body of work that extends from Austin, Texas to Kauai, Hawaii to Gabon, Africa

Rather than start with a pre-existing code as a foundation or attempt to add additional layers of regulation, we use careful analysis, documentation, and understanding of a real, physical place to extract the DNA of a community’s character and use it as the foundation for a distinct Form-Based Code. Because we are architects with an understanding of planning, an ability to write code and experience working with developers, we test code regulations on typical, existing lot sizes—often via multiday code-testing charrettes—to ensure predictable build-out. We also have an in-house usability expert.

Our zoning and coding services include:

  • Form-Based Codes of All Scales: From corridors, downtowns, and transit-oriented development areas (TOD) to complete small towns, large metropolises, and counties
  • Model Citywide Hybrid Codes: Applying Form-Based Coding to walkable urban areas and refined conventional zoning to suburban areas
  • Code Review and Diagnoses: Graphic assessment of existing zoning districts
  • Form-Based Code Bridges: Establishing form-based frameworks for comprehensive and general plans
  • Form-Based Code Strategic Advising and Peer Review
  • Coding for Missing Middle Housing