And now for something completely nerdy.

I had dinner the other night with Sarah Lewis, an urban designer friend of mine, and a self-described meddler (we get along well). It didn’t take much to get her talking about form-based code, one of her specialties. I had only heard of zoning laws, but she explained that while zoning laws are policies that determine what goes inside the buildings, form-based code considers how the outsides of buildings impact the shape of the street. It’s a type of code that considers the three-dimensionality and design aspects of how architecture interacts with and creates the public space around it, which of course has deep impacts on pedestrianism. As Sarah says, “Don’t think of it as a sidewalk, think of it as the space between the buildings.”

From the Form-Based Codes Institute:

“A form-based code is a land development regulation that fosters predictable built results and a high-quality public realm by using physical form (rather than separation of uses) as the organizing principle for the code. A form-based code is a regulation, not a mere guideline, adopted into city, town, or county law. A form-based code offers a powerful alternative to conventional zoning regulation.”

While form-based codes are applied to mixed-use areas, I don't know if or how they are applied to areas where highways intersect with pedestrian zones. It is this interaction of infrastructure and human-scale places that I have been considering. My intention is not to intervene through code, but it seems like form-based code emerged in response to the same things I'm responding to. To be continued…