Don’t Miss the Middle

Dan Parolek from Opticos Design shares his insight on a term he coined, “missing middle housing,” which he defines as new homes geared toward middle-income households.

Featured guest

Dan Parolek, Founding Principal, Opticos Design

Daniel Parolek is a nationally recognized thought leader in architecture, design, and urban planning, specifically in terms of creating livable, sustainable communities and buildings that reinforce them. Since establishing himself early in his career as an expert in these fields, he has won national competitions and awards recognizing his work and is often asked to contribute to publications and resources. He has helped found several nonprofit planning and architecture organizations, he regularly speaks at national conferences, and his projects have been featured in numerous publications. His strong interest in diverse building types, at different scales that bridge architecture and urban planning, drove his desire to start Opticos in 2000.

Over the years, he has become one of the leading practitioners of Form-Based Coding, a revolutionary new approach to zoning about which he co-wrote what’s been called “the definitive handbook,” and he is a founding board member of the Form-Based Codes Institute.

Daniel recently invented the term Missing Middle Housing ( to define the gap in housing between single family homes and larger condo buildings and to provide resources to enable communities to meet the growing demand for walkable urban living.

His love of good design and great places came from a childhood spent exploring the small town of Columbus, Nebraska on foot and bike—and much of his current work is inspired by his memories of growing up in a place with a thriving main street and local businesses. After receiving an architectural education from the University of Notre Dame, Dan worked in New York with the renowned architect Robert A.M. Stern where he worked on projects ranging from private homes for Michael Eisner and Jon Bon Jovi to a federal courthouse in West Virginia and a hotel and entertainment complex at Tokyo Disney.

When he’s not in the office, Dan can be found cooking or traveling, often to Rome or Lucca, Italy.

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