Town of Taos, New Mexico

With three diverse cultural traditions and over 400 years of built history, the Town of Taos, New Mexico, is home to some of the most distinctive architectural and planning patterns in the United States. The historic district remains a 16th century Spanish village to this day. So, when it became apparent that the blunt force of their conventional zoning ordinance was undermining their historic form, the Town turned to PlaceMakers to customize the form-based SmartCode and accompanying land use master development plan.

Town Council tasked PlaceMakers with ensuring the multi-cultural community was fully engaged. To assure such citizen involvement, PlaceMakers began the process by providing promotional materials, reaching out to the media, and establishing an interactive iCharrette project website that addressed education, citizen input, and transparent access to documentation within a single portal — all as prelude to a week-long community charrette.

The process involved consultants in: transportation engineering, to design new streetscapes, bike paths and routes; market analysis, to provide the necessary direction for retail development; architecture, to ensure the preservation of historic character; and illustration, to show the evolutionary effects of a form-based code over time.

This fascinating process of calibrating a national, model form-based code to a place as unique as Taos, is the first example of its kind in the United States.

Calibrations included an entire new series of private frontage types, including the first declension of fencing along the rural to urban transect.

Download the Taos form-based code here.