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We don't talk about zoning, no, no, no

Updated: Apr 21



My least favorite part about being an architect? Doing the zoning.


Thousands of pages of text, tables, maps, charts, and formulas that had to be navigated and calculated. But you couldn't ignore it; every single project had to get this right.


So we built UrbanForm's AI engine to automate it.


This is how it used to work: at the start of every project, a project manager would task someone with getting the zoning and building constraints. That young architect would probably just Google it. Invariably, they would end up with bad or incomplete zoning information. Then they would work with the project manager to revise and reiterate until it was complete to everyone's satisfaction. Together, they would take this information to the jurisdiction and attempt to get prompt feedback on crucial building design parameters. This took days.


Because of this, what happened more often than not is the project manager would just do the zoning themselves and hand it down to the project team. It was too important to get wrong and it takes years of experience to know the intricacies of zoning. Time is spent more efficiently this way, but at the expense of involving less experienced architects. The younger architects spend years before they see many things that drive decisions in the built environment. And the value proposition for older architects becomes, in part, knowing the zoning well.


As an architecture professor, the first thing I do is task all my graduate architecture students with getting the zoning for their projects. None have ever gotten it right on the first pass.


This is how I saw it work over 15 years spent in different architecture offices and in graduate schools across the nation.


We don't talk about zoning, and we really should. In this way, zoning and Bruno share something alike.


Instead, architects and firms can now just use UrbanForm. UrbanForm can provide automated zoning results instantly for entire offices--allowing firms to respond to clients faster, get teams on the same page more equitably, and avoid costly errors and omissions. It means everyone in an office can engage with the rules that define our buildings and cities.


Ultimately, that means spending more time doing what makes architects valuable and less time doing rote zoning research.


We believe that by empowering architects in this way, we can help architects shape our environment for the better. It's technology for a better built environment.


That's UrbanForm's mission: helping the people that are responsible for our buildings and cities do their best work.


It's being used now by some of Portland's most forward-thinking architects and developers.


Reach out to us at UrbanForm to talk about subscription plans for entire offices.

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