Daniel Parolek, Founding Principal
  • Founding Principal
  • Credentials: AIA
  • Dog Breed: Pug
  • Bicycle: Hybrid-Commuter

A visionary architect and strategist who combines a unique understanding of urban places with a Midwest sensibility

Dan is an architect, urban designer, and the founding principal of Opticos Design, which has grown into a nationally sought-after company of thought leaders in urban placemaking, innovative housing design and policy, and zoning reform. He has been featured in many high-profile publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, NextCity, and Professional Builder. Dan coined the term Missing Middle Housing and is a champion of the now-international Missing Middle Housing movement. He recently presented on the topic at the Chicago Humanities Festival. Dan also co-authored the book, “Form Based Codes,” which Planetizen called “one of the top planning books of 2007” and co-founded the non-profit think tank, the Form-Based Code Institute. He released the book Missing Middle Housing: Thinking Big and Building Small to Respond to Today’s Housing Crisis, also a top urban planning book of 2020. In 2023, Dan was voted one of Planetizen’s 100 Most Influential Urbanists, Past and Present.

His innovative work is diverse across public and private sector clients and includes the master plan, building type design, and architecture for Culdesac Tempe, which will be the largest car-free community in the country when completed; the country’s first Missing Middle Neighborhood in the Omaha, Nebraska metro; a citywide Missing Middle Plan for Sacramento, California; one of the most advanced applications of Form-Based Coding in Cincinnati, Ohio; and a sustainable growth strategy for Libreville, the capital city of Gabon, Africa.

Prior to founding Opticos Design, Daniel worked with Robert A.M. Stern in New York City on a broad range of projects including a professional baseball stadium and homes for Michael Eisner and Jon Bon Jovi. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Urban Design from the University of California at Berkeley. Daniel loves to travel internationally, particularly in Italy.

Daniel's Thoughts:
Missing Middle Housing Forum, Portland, Oregon
Missing Middle Housing Forum, Portland, Oregon
Exploring Missing Middle Housing with ULI Idaho
Exploring Missing Middle Housing with ULI Idaho