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

Enable Missing Middle Housing in Your Town

Opticos principal Daniel Parolek inspired a new movement for housing choice in 2010 when he introduced the concept of the “missing middle” in American housing. Missing Middle Housing is a transformative concept that highlights the need for diverse, affordable housing choices in sustainable, walkable places.   Since then, Opticos has worked with communities across the country to navigate the process of analyzing local codes, clearly identifying barriers, and developing solutions to enable Missing Middle Housing.   Based on that work, we are excited to announce three new service packages.  Download an overview of these new packages designed to Enable Missing Middle Housing in Your Town.
Missing Middle HousingUrban DesignPlacemakingWalkability

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

Designing a Missing Middle Plan for Small Infill Sites: The Art of Creating Value and a Sense of Place on a Two-to-Five Acre Site, Part 2

In our previous post showing how we design Missing Middle Housing for small sites, we reviewed some initial steps, including conceptual studies for a small site master plan in Novato, California. Now, we’re going to look at the steps we took to refine the preferred alternative into something ready for entitlement.
Missing Middle HousingUrban DesignPlacemakingProcess