Miami Herald: "Trailblazer" Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk gives old code an "F" as revamped code awaits council action

For the past several years, CNU founder Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk has been heading up a Herculean and potentially very consequential project, a city-wide overhaul of Miami's zoning code called Miami 21.

Like most codes written by teams of new urbanists, the new one prepared for Miami is form-based. Unlike conventional codes it invites the mixing of residences, stores, schools, and other amenities in compact, traditional neighborhoods. It guides the form and placement of buildings so they contribute to the life of the street and create humane public spaces.

While form-based codes have been used in New York City and have recently been approved for places such as the downtown of Montgomery, Alabama, coding experts know that overhauling a code covering an entire mature city can be a daunting undertaking, requiring rounds of meetings with countless affected property owners. With the writing of Miami 21 now complete and the code awaiting city council action, Plater-Zyberk took "five questions" from the Miami Herald today and showed she has maintained her poise and her optimism about the project.

Exposure to the old code did not generate fondness on the part of Plater Zyberk. The Dean of the University of Miami School of Architecture gave it a failing grade. "The existing code is an ''F'' because it doesn't pay attention to ... the public realm. But a number of buildings have been well designed because of intervention by the city's planning department and well-intentioned developers and architects.... Successful results contradict the regulatory framework they've worked in... In a sense, we are trying to institutionalize the good examples that have been completed in the city already.

Plater-Zyberk says that the new code does not represent a downzoning of the city. "There is no intention to reduce development capacity in the city. It is understood that this is an urban core of a growing region. In translation from the old code to new code, we erred in generosity."

The DPZ principal says she and her team have given this history-making project special effort. "Working in your hometown is always special and a great privilege," she says. "For that reason, because we wanted it to come out better than anything else, we have spent a terrific amount of time, much more than we normally would in a consulting project. Because it is our hometown, we want it to be great.

Read the full article.

Photo from the Miami Herald.


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