Stepping Warily into the World of Form-Based Codes

Citywide form-based codes are gaining in popularity, with Miami's recently implemented code and a new code in Denver. But some architects worry about if and how these new codes will impact their work and the look of their cities.

1 minute read

July 20, 2010, 12:00 PM PDT

By Tim Halbur


Undeniably New Urbanist in inspiration and implementation, form-based codes have some architects up in arms. But the minds behind these zoning revisions say there's nothing to fear.

"Miami was the first large American city to adopt a form-based code, but Denver was close on its heels, adopting its New Code in late June. Montgomery, Ala., has one. So do Sonoma, Calif., and West Evanston, Ill. But according to Wyant, the most common use of the form-based code is much smaller in scope. 'The trend for a long time has been neighborhood by neighborhood, doing a portion of the city, focusing on those types of places where there's a either a problem of disinvestment, a problem of development pressure, or of losing historic resources,' Wyant says.

For architects, the idea that a code is going to dictate the form of their buildings may seem heavy-handed. But the creator of Miami 21-and of the first ever form-based code-says they're really not so different from what architects already deal with."

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