Founding Principal
Opticos Design, Inc.

Daniel Parolek is an architect and urban designer who founded Opticos Design in 1998 and has grown it into a nationally sought-after firm for their expertise in urban placemaking, innovative housing design, and zoning reform to enable 21st century towns and cities to thrive. Daniel is a frequent speaker at conferences and events across the country, most recently the Chicago Humanities Festival, and he has been covered in many high-profile publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Next City, Curbed Magazine, Urban Land, and Professional Builder Magazine. His knowledge and foresight makes him a valuable partner/advisor for cities and developers across the country who are striving to respond to the demand for vibrant urban living. In 2011, Daniel created the concept of Missing Middle Housing which started a movement which has achieved international recognition and application. He has written a book on the topic called, “Missing Middle Housing: Thinking Big and Building Small to Respond to the Housing Crisis,” that was released in July of 2020 from Island Press. He also created www.missingmiddlehousing.com which gets tens of thousands of visitors each month. Because of this expertise he has been hired by developers and builders to meet the growing demand for urban, non-single family living and attainability. Examples of this work include the country’s first Missing Middle Neighborhood in Omaha, NE, the Mews Homes in Daybreak, and the country’s largest car-free community, Culdesac Tempe. Due to this expertise and ability to clearly communicate complex concepts he was hired by AARP to educate their members about the value of walkable living and missing middle housing choices. He believes the current zoning system is broken and therefore has been at the forefront of zoning reform to enable walkable urban communities for the past 18 years. He co-authored the definitive book on the topic of Form-Based Coding that Planetizen identified as one of the “Top 10 books in Planning in 2007,” he co-founded the Form-Based Code Institute, a non-profit think tank that educates mid-career professionals about new zoning techniques, and establishes best practices, and he has worked on some of the most advanced applications of zoning reform at a corridor, neighborhood, city, and regional scales, including writing the country of Gabon, Africa’s first development code as part of sustainable growth strategy for the capitol city of Libreville. Prior to joining Opticos, Daniel worked with Robert AM Stern in New York City. Daniel has a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Notre Dame, and a Master’s of Urban Design from University of California at Berkeley. Daniel’s passion for walkable living was seeded with his childhood growing up in the small town of Columbus, Nebraska.

Speaking at the Following:

Mar 28

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Seizing the Missing Middle Moment

1:30pm – 3:00pm

Buildings and developers across the country are integrating Missing Middle Housing product types such as cottage courts, fourplexes, and townhouses into their projects to respond the perfect storm of rising costs, shifting household demographics, including a rapidly aging population, and demand for non-single family housing choices in walkable urban locations. ULI’s publication, “Attainable Housing,” identified […]