Avoiding Common Form-Based Code Mistakes, Part 2

Zoning Practice — June 2013

By Daniel Parolek


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This article continues the previous month’s discussion of common form-based coding mistakes, this time focusing on how a lack of planning can undermine a form-based coding effort and taking a closer look at how use permissions and development standards need to be recalibrated to ensure that a new form-based code produces the desired results.


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Date Published
June 1, 2013
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American Planning Association

About the Author

Daniel Parolek
Daniel Parolek is a urban strategist, with degrees in architecture and urban design, who founded Opticos Design in 1998 and has grown it into a nationally sought-after firm for their expertise in urban placemaking, innovative housing design, and zoning reform to enable 21st century towns and cities to thrive. Daniel is a frequent speaker at conferences and events across the country, most recently the Chicago Humanities Festival, and he has been covered in many high-profile publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Next City, Curbed Magazine, Urban Land, and Professional Builder Magazine. His knowledge and foresight makes him a valuable partner/advisor for cities and developers across the country who are striving to respond to the demand for vibrant urban living. In 2011, Daniel created the concept of Missing Middle Housing which started a movement which has achieved international recognition and application. He has written a book on the topic called, “Missing Middle Housing: Thinking Big and Building Small to Respond to the Housing Crisis,” that is available from Island Press. He also created missingmiddlehousing.com which gets tens of thousands of visitors each month. Because of this expertise he has been hired by developers and builders to rethink their housing delivery to respond to shifting household needs, the growing demand for urban, non-single family living, and rising costs. Examples of this work include the country’s first Missing Middle Neighborhood in Omaha, NE, the Mews Homes in Daybreak, and the country’s largest car-free community, Culdesac Tempe. He also works with cities across the country whose conventional planning and zoning systems are failing to deliver diverse housing choices. Due to this expertise and ability to clearly communicate complex concepts he was hired by AARP to educate their members about the value of walkable living and missing middle housing choices. He believes the current zoning system is broken and therefore has been at the forefront of zoning reform to enable walkable urban communities for the past 18 years: He co-authored the definitive book on the topic of Form-Based Coding that Planetizen identified as one of the “Top 10 books in Planning in 2007,” he co-founded the Form-Based Code Institute, a non-profit think tank that educates mid-career professionals about new zoning techniques, and establishes best practices, and he has worked on some of the most advanced applications of zoning reform at a corridor, neighborhood, city, and regional scales, including writing the country of Gabon, Africa’s first development code as part of sustainable growth strategy for the capitol city of Libreville. Prior to joining Opticos, Daniel worked with Robert AM Stern in New York City, working on a broad range of projects from a professional baseball stadium and Tokyo Disney entertainment complex, to homes for the likes of Michael Eisner and Jon Bon Jovi. Daniel has a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Notre Dame, a Master’s of Urban Design from University of California at Berkeley, and was a Knight Fellow at the University of Miami School of Architecture. Daniel’s passion for walkable living was seeded with his childhood growing up in the small town of Columbus, Nebraska. Daniel loves to travel internationally, particularly in Italy, and considers Lucca, Italy one of his favorite cities in the world. Add links to on website and in proposal pdfs: • “Avoiding Extremes,” San Francisco Chronicle • John Burns Podcast, “Don’t’ Miss the Middle.” • Chicago Humanities Festival presentation, “Thinking Big, Building Small.” • Wall Street Journal, “New Arizona Development Bans Cars.” Daniel has been featured in The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Next City, Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, and Curbed. He created the concept of Missing Middle Housing, launched missingmiddlehousing.com (Planetizen Top 10 Urban Planning website in 2019), and wrote the book "Missing MIddle Housing" which will be available in spring of 2020 from Island Press. As a thought leader in zoning reform efforts, Daniel co-authored the book "Form-Based Codes" (named one of Planetizen’s best books in 2009), and co-founded the non-profit think tank, the Form-Based Code Institute. He has 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, especially in Italy. The seeds of his passion for walkable urban places started while growing up in the small town of Columbus, Nebraska.