On Monday, I reported that many more multifamily units are being built on street grids, which offer important amenities to residents. Instead of density attached to a congested arterial road, urban apartments are connected to culture and walkable to shops, parks, and schools.
As the multifamily industry strides forward, challenges arise. Some developers have mastered the craft of building in an urban place and using active frontages. Others are merely plunking down buildings with little change in design from those that previously fronted parking lots.
Most communities still have conventional codes that are oblivious to the things that provide comfort to people on foot or bicycle — outside of their one-ton, four-wheel appendage. These elements include awnings and galleries, active building frontages, buildings that shape the public realm into an “outdoor room,” streetscape elements that provide enclosure and protection, and the screening of parking from the view of people on the street. Form-based codes, on the other hand, pay a lot of attention to these aspects of the public realm that improve livability.