Zoning Cities: Toward a Simpler Future


  • Shortcomings of existing zoning tools in addressing complex urban and largely built-out environments
  • Cutting-edge zoning practices in the United States and internationally
  • Tools that can test and simulate outcomes of new zoning codes with a particular emphasis on changing zoning regulations in largely built-out contexts


    Zoning codes today address increasingly complex urban environments and built-out neighborhoods. All too often, existing tool sets are built around suburban and auto-oriented contexts. In an effort to address the challenges of urban environments, new tools are invented and added on. This has led to convoluted codes that are hard to follow, easy to challenge, and (more often than not) only provide marginal results.

    During this session, an interdisciplinary and international panel of architects and code writers, as well as a digital city modeler, make the case for a simpler approach to zoning. They ask if we’re using the right tools to most effectively regulate building cities, and pose the all-important question: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Joining real-world experience and extensive computer-modeling and simulation expertise, they argue that to be more effective, zoning may need to regulate less and regulate things that haven’t before been regulated.

    View case studies from across the country and discuss theoretical studies that get to the heart of how our cities are shaped. Then listen as the panelists debate alternative, simpler, and possibly more effective approaches to implementing planning in zoning codes.