Code as urban vision

A critique of the Buffalo Green Code

The Journal of Urban Design is a scholarly international journal which advances theory, research and practice in urban design.

There is a growing recognition of the need for urban design in shaping, managing and improving the quality of the urban environment. It is now considered one of the core knowledge components of planning and architectural education and practice. Thus, increasing numbers of architects, planners, surveyors, landscape architects and other professions concerned with the quality of urban development are specialising in urban design.

Adopted in 2017, the Buffalo Green Code was lauded as a comprehensive urban vision for Buffalo, New York. This form-based code would simplify Buffalo’s land use regulations by prescribing what could be built and where, and provide a unified framework for its future. Yet, despite the claims of comprehensiveness, the code left two pressing challenges of the city unaddressed: urban integration of vacant lots and lack of affordable housing. The paper argues that, given these omissions, the code fails to provide a grounded vision, while universalizing reductive fabric-making notions unsuitable for much of the city.


Chapter "Code as urban vision: a critique of the Buffalo Green Code" by Erkin Özay


Journal of Urban Design

Date Published



Nicholas Rajkovich, Surabhi Dhopeshwarkar, Austin Wyles, and Marietta Koeberle.