Building Types in Zoning, Part 1: Why?

Building types are a key component of the physical environment and have existed for millennia in all types of walkable places: from crossroads and small towns to every size of city. Building types and the public realm have made all of these places.   But despite their existence before zoning, building types were left aside when zoning focused on the separation of uses while relegating physical form and character to a non-essential role. The physical realities and qualities of walkable places that existed long before zoning were now viewed through the lens of use, density and Floor Area Ratio (FAR): a lens that is not capable of recognizing physical form and character.
Missing Middle HousingUrban DesignPlacemakingWalkabilityForm-Based Codes

Akanda SmartCode: Coding for Sustainability in Developing Countries

Sustainable development sits at the heart of President Ali Bongo Ondimba’s vision for the future of the Central African country of Gabon. In 2012, President Ondimba commissioned The Prince’s Foundation, along with Opticos and an international team of experts, to draft an Akanda Masterplan and SmartCode with the intent to establish a sustainable framework for the growth of Akanda, a 3,000-acre site at the northern edge of Gabon’s capital, Libreville, and adjacent to Akanda National Park, a lush, natural habitat of coastal mangroves, mudflats, wetlands, and patches of verdant forest.
Urban DesignPlacemakingProcessForm-Based CodesSustainabilityAwardsUpdates

The Top Seven Things I Teach About Form-Based Planning and Zoning

Having taught form-based planning and zoning academically and professionally over the past ten years, there are a few key concepts I make it a point to teach to my students. In many cases, these are holes that a traditional planning education does not fill; in other cases, these items are the sum of innovations by colleagues and simply reinforce practices that have successfully made their way into the mainstream since I’ve been practicing. Here are the key messages I bring to students.
ProcessForm-Based Codes

Public Draft of Austin’s CodeNEXT Land Development Code Now Live!

After intensive public outreach, diagnosis, and drafting, the City of Austin recently released the public review draft of its CodeNEXT Land Development Code. As lead consultant for the project, Opticos introduced the code to the public at a meeting of the City’s Code Advisory Group on February 1st. (Teaming partners Lisa Wise Consulting and Peter J. Park were also on hand to unveil.)
Urban DesignWalkabilityProjectsForm-Based CodesSustainabilityNews