As demographics and lifestyles change, so do cities. The question is, how do communities adapt to change in order to meet the wants and needs of its current residents and those who will soon follow?

Daniel Parolek, a nationally recognized architect, urbanist and leader in architecture, design, and urban planning, will share his ideas with area residents on Tuesday, May 24 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Meeting Room A of the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn Street. His presentation, “Missing Middle: Responding to the Demand for Walkable Urban Living” will discuss how to build vibrant, diverse, sustainable, walkable urban spaces that meet today’s housing needs while simultaneously creating community.

“Missing Middle Housing” is a term Parolek uses to define the type of housing that falls between single-family homes and large apartment complexes or high-rises -- duplexes, fourplexes, bungalow courts, mansion apartments, and live-work units. Although these are not new housing concepts, very few have been built since the 1940s, when consumers shifted their focus to single-family homes with large yards and a car in every garage.

Today, interest in these housing styles has been revitalized. Demographics are changing, and people are seeking smaller living quarters in walkable neighborhoods with shared community spaces. According to Parolek, the urban housing market now demands more compact spaces that are well-designed, affordably constructed, comfortable, and usable, with a smaller footprint in terms of sustainability. A home with a one-car garage is sufficient, if a garage is needed at all. More important is the neighborhood’s walkability and ease of access to shopping, services, restaurants, and other businesses. These housing types are often close in size to detached single-family homes, and they can offer greater density without looking dense. The Missing Middle provides housing for a range of incomes, ages, and lifestyles, and easily fits in with existing single-family neighborhoods, infill or urban renewal areas, or new construction projects.

Parolek’s presentation, sponsored by the City of Iowa City, is open to the public. No registration is necessary, and there is no admission charge. For more information, call the Neighborhood and Development Services office at 319-356-5230.

Date of publication

Wednesday, May 11, 2016