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Infinite Earth Radio – weekly conversations with leaders building smarter, more sustainable, and equitable communities - Michael Hancox EPISODE 57
Missing Middle Housing: Responding to the Demand for Walkable Urban Living
00:00:00 00:22:12

Missing Middle Housing: Responding to the Demand for Walkable Urban Living


The Shift in Demand for Walkable Urban Living


[01:16] Daniel Parolek is introduced.

[01:53] Daniel tells about when he first knew architecture and urban design were going to be what he would do for a living.

[03:11] Daniel answers the question of, what is missing middle housing?

[06:09] Daniel speaks of the transition to support housing that supports more walkable communities.

[08:15] Daniel addresses if it’s possible to create a more diverse mix of housing options in communities that are already built out.

[10:32] Daniel identifies how to adapt building codes to allow for a more diverse mix of housing.

[12:59] Daniel talks about using floor-area ratio in a residential context.

[14:16] Daniel gives his thoughts on the affordability benefits of missing middle housing.

[16:09] Daniel discusses the good response builders and developers have had.

[19:01] Daniel mentions if there’s been any work done on how a community’s finances are affected.

[20:02] Daniel shares where people can learn more about his work and missing middle housing.


Daniel Parolek is a nationally recognized thought leader in architecture, design, and urban planning, specifically in terms of creating livable, sustainable communities and buildings that reinforce them. He is the founder and a Principle at Opticos – an architectural and urban design firm located in Berkeley CA.

Learn More About Daniel


Opticos Design, Inc. is an award-winning multidisciplinary design firm founded in Berkeley, CA, that specializes in creating great places by revitalizing old ones and creating new pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods and cities by designing well-crafted traditional and classical architecture. They are recognized nationally as leaders in their field and have won various awards for their diverse work. Their designs emphasize the creation of vibrant, sustainable communities, comfortable pedestrian environments, and memorable places that will withstand the test of time. Opticos was named to B Lab’s “2013 B Corp Best for the Workers List,” honoring the top 10% of all Certified B Corporations in the world that have made a positive impact on their workforce.

Learn More About Opticos

Take Away Quotes

“…actually, I wrote an essay when I was in sixth grade about wanting to be an architect, so I guess it was maybe between growing up in a really great, sort of vibrant community and also being let loose on my grandfather’s farm and having lots of time to build lots of cool forts out of stacked hay bales and treehouses and such, sort of, ultimately, ended up me having a real interest and passion for it.”

“[Missing Middle Housing] is the scale of housing in between single-family homes and sort of the four- and five-story apartment buildings, and it’s the duplex, it’s a fourplex, it’s a small-courtyard apartment or a bungalow court, that this range of housing types exist in every pre-1940’s neighborhood across the country. Some of them are usually mixed in with other, even, single-family homes, and they make up a really vibrant part of a community and provide housing choices in those places that they exist.”

“We’ve also been having great conversations with builders, builder’s who’ve historically built mostly single-family homes, that are realizing that they need to shift and add these missing middle housing types to their portfolios to respond to the shift in demand. Even apartment builders are starting to look at this as well.”

“What we find is a lot of our work is actually being hired by cities to go and fix their zoning codes, and a lot of times it entails writing a form-based code, which is just a different approach to it, and the biggest thing is we’ve created these, both, planning and zoning systems based on density, which is the number of dwelling units per acre, and just inherently, out of the starting gate, if you have a system that allows a certain number of dwelling units per acre, it is discouraging and creating an unlevel playing field for small units.”



Keep up with the exciting happenings at the 2017 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference –happening February 2-4, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri!

Missing Middle Housing

Sign up for updates and more information about Missing Middle Housing from Opticos

Opticos Design


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