Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Form Based Codes - Reform or Legislated Mediocrity?

The City of Evanston's Plan Commission is sponsoring a talk tonight, Tuesday, August 8th, by Paul Crawford, chairman of the Form Based Codes Institute, with the title Form Based Codes: An Alternative Approach to Regulating and Shaping Development. To quote from the commission's description, "Often associated with Smart Growth and the rise of “New Urbanist” planning concepts, form-based codes place primary emphasis upon the physical form of development, including building height, bulk, fa├žade treatments, the relationship of the buildings to the street and to one another and the location of parking."

For information: you can email Tracy Norfleet, General Planner, or Susan Guderley, Neighborhood Planner, but since the seminar is tonight I'd recommend calling 847/866-2928.

The concept bears the fingerprints of New Urbanists like the ubiquitous Andres Duany. . . . Continue reading here.


Anonymous said...

A big step backward for design freedom and innovation, a giant leap forward for frustrated design review committee busybodies who cannot get design commissions of their own.

Anonymous said...

Three clarifications:
1. No New Urbanist design code I'm aware of regulates civic uses, like parks. Indeed, one of Duany's books ("New Civic Art") displays the Guggenheim in Bilbao on its cover, viewed from down a classic streetwall avenue, as an example of how civic buildings can break all the rules.

2. Already, NIMBY busybodies kill a great many design proposals through the existing review processes -- most notably when a building requires an upzone. A form-based code pre-empts that by placing the public process up front and streamlining the process afterwards, which -- by eliminating surprises -- usually results in vastly more freedom for developers and architects than what existed before. The billions of dollars invested along Columbia Pike in Arlington is an example of how simply changing the code could unleash the creativity of the market.

3. Some form-based codes regulate materials and style, but many explicitly do not. Many of the pre-Euclidean zoning ordinances -- notably the 1916 New York and 1923 Chicago ordinances, and the still-extant codes in Paris -- were based around the same "building envelope" approach that many form-based codes use.