Rendering by Qamar and Associates

Form-based code with step-backs

Architect Laurence Qamar recently created a series of step-back proposals for the Woodstock Corridor In Portland, Oregon, illustrated above. "Instead of the boxy, ungainly 'space invaders' that have bedeviled other parts of the city, Qamar’s step-back code would assure that buildings step down to the street, and to existing residential and low-rise areas.  Developers using this code would trade the cost of the step-backs for a much greater certainty, stronger community support, higher quality and appeal, and lower risk for the project overall," writes architect and urban designer Michael Mehaffy.

Mehaffy explains how New York City has been shaped by step-backs that were required in its 1916 zoning, mitigating shadowing and other negative affects of tall buildings. "The code had the unintended benefit of leading to a new generation of “sculpted” buildings, like the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building and many other icons of the era."