By Lance Gloss
Attendees at the 2022 APA-NC Conference were relieved to return to an in-person format after two years of virtual events during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Planners from cities and firms throughout the state gathered in Winston-Salem from September 13th to 16th. They shared updates from their work, shared laughs, and considered the evolving practice of planning in North Carolina.
Architect and urban designer Dan Parolek delivered a compelling keynote presentation featuring recent work by his firm, Opticos. He shared stories of major development code revisions and innovative master plans throughout the country. Much of this work focuses on form-based codes and the diversification of housing typologies.
Parolek’s presentation reflected the teachings in his seminal book, Missing Middle Housing: Thinking Big and Building Small to Respond to Today’s Housing Crisis, named a Top Urban Planning Book of 2020 by Planetizen. Parolek shared slides from the recent Prairie Queen plan for New Urbanist bungalows outside Omaha, NE, and noted that demonstrated demand for walkable neighborhoods had made a case for missing middle housing increasingly self-explanatory.
Amidst sessions on natural hazards, traffic calming, and the overhaul of Charlotte’s Unified Development Ordinance, students and alumni from the UNC Department of City and Regional Planning made several appearances. Awards for recent successes were made to John Anagnost (MCRP ’16) of Raleigh and Ben Berolzheimer (MCRP ’20) of Carrboro, while Lauren Prunkl (MCRP ’22) received the Outstanding Student of the year award. Recent alum Julia Maron (MCRP ’22) presented on Natural Hazard Resilience at a Regional Scale with Julia Maron with her colleagues from Kleinfelder.
The Carolina Planning Journal also made its mark on the proceedings. Former Angles Editor Emma Vinella-Brusher moderated a discussion between CPJ podcast host Michael English and CPJ Editor-in-Chief, Lance Gloss. The discussion covered the intersection of equity and media in planning, from the rise of TikTok as a news source to the potential of social media and print media to advance social justice. Fifty engaged attendees asked questions about building accurate knowledge in an era of unclear bias and rampant misinformation.
Overall, the conference was rousing, thanks to the leadership of the APA-NC steering committee and a particularly heavy lift by Tiffany White at the City of Winston-Salem. Planners returned to their home communities across the state more energized, reconnected, and better informed.
If you’d like to learn more about APA North Carolina, check out our website.
Lance is a second-generation urban planner with a passion for economic development strategies that center natural resource conservation and community uplift. He served as Managing Editor of the Urban Journal at Brown University, Section Editor at the College Hill Independent, and Senior Planner for the City of Grand Junction. Hailing from sunny Colorado, he earned his BA in Urban Studies at Brown and will earn his Master in City and Regional Planning at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2023. Outside of work, he can be found on his bicycle, in the woods, or on the rugby pitch.
Edited by Jo Kwon
Featured Image by UNC DCRP