downtown salt lake city skyline

Form-Based Codes 101: Downtowns

Downtowns are the historic center of most American cities. In this course, we will review their role in establishing the past and future character of the city, walking through a series of form-based code case studies across a range of scales and contexts.

  • Preview Course PREVIEW

Course Info

  • Duration 8 video lessons (66 Mins)
  • Published Published
  • 4.43
Play Video

Preview Course Preview Course

Browse Course Chapters

  • Chapter Locked
    Chapter Duration 1 min
  • Chapter Locked
    History and Context
    Chapter Duration 7 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Planning and Coding
    Chapter Duration 12 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Case Study: South Miami, FL
    Chapter Duration 4 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Case Study: Kendall, FL
    Chapter Duration 8 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Case Study: Columbia, MO
    Chapter Duration 11 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Case Study: Overland Park, KS
    Chapter Duration 9 mins
  • Chapter Locked
    Chapter Duration 11 mins

Course Description

In this course we will review the important role of downtowns, both philosophically and urbanistically. We will present a series of case studies that illustrate the common features of form-based codes for downtowns across a range of scales and contexts, as well as highlight some unique features related to their specific characteristics and complexity.

At the end of this course, you will understand the key considerations of a form-based code for a downtown context: What is the history of the downtown and the existing urban form and design characteristics. Based on that context and community aspirations, what is the vision and plan for future development? What are the coding implications of that plan?

Learn these skills

  • Development
  • Land Use
  • Pedestrian Planning
  • Regulations
  • Site Planning
  • Urban Design
  • Walkability
  • Zoning Codes


This course is approved for 1 AICP CM credit. 

View all courses available for CM credit.


This is 1 LU.


This course is eligible for 1 PDH, LA CES/non-HSW.


This course is approved for 1 CNU-A credit.

Meet Your Instructor

Mary Madden

Mary Madden

Mary Madden has nearly 20 years of experience in the fields of urban planning and design, community development, and historic preservation at the federal, state, and local levels.

Meet Instructor
Victor Dover

Victor Dover

Victor Dover is a town planner and urban designer with 29 years of leadership in the reform of planning, regulation and development.

Meet Instructor

Join thousands of urban planners on Planetizen Courses

"This was a very engaging course, one of the best so far in the series. Nice combination of examples, visuals, specifics"
- Katherine P.
5 Star Review 5 Star Review 5 Star Review 5 Star Review 5 Star Review

Master Urban Planning Skills With A Planetizen Courses Subscription.

Try Free Courses

High quality video lessons developed by experts.


Complete course work to receive a certificate from Planetizen.


Test your comprehension with course quizzes.


Access reading lists, articles, and other materials prepared by instructors.