Higgins Beach
Form-Based Code

Scarborough, Maine

Client Challenge | Higgins Beach, a turn-of-the-century planned beach community, was hit with conventional zoning in the 1960s, throwing all the existing homes into non-conformity.  Since that time, anyone seeking to renovate their home has been required to comply with uncharacteristic setbacks as well as other onerous environmental regulations. 

Team Approach | Our team set up a studio in one of the classic Higgins Beach cottages and lived in the community for a week, inviting the neighborhood in to discuss hopes for the future and ways to solve the community’s issues with the zoning.  A highly customized form-based code was crafted to reflect the existing reality on the ground.

Project Impact | The code was adopted unanimously within 6 months of the project’s initiation. Several buildings have been completed under the new code with more construction underway. The new regulations are a great success for a neighborhood that both feared change but also knew the existing condition was not working. We started a zoning update in 2017 to further refine the form-based code to improve it further from the lessons learned during the first two seasons of construction.


Higgins Beach, Scarborough, Maine

Town of Scarborough, Maine

2015 - 2017


Urban Design
Form-Based Coding


•2016 Urbanism Award from the Congress for the New Urbanism New England

Higgins Beach Code Final 12-2-15 Updated.jpg