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Thread: Architectural standards and politics

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Architectural standards and politics

    It appears that more and more communities are requiring architectural standards as a way to fight big box development and solidify the character of particular districts. Do you have them in your ordinance?

    Two part question:
    1) Does your Ordinance include detailed architectural standards and if so, how detailed are they. How was the idea of including them introduced?

    2) What was the political impression of them? Have they helped to guide development in your community?

    We have basic square footage minimums, height maxims, but that is about it.
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  2. #2
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    We've had them since 2001, and they've been very well received. We use a mix of required standards and non-mandatory guidelines.

    Below is what we have in our regulations.
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    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  3. #3
         
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    Our development code has general standards for both commercial and residential buildings. We require things like articulation of walls and roof lines, a minimum percentage of windows and other fenestrations on the facades, mix of materials, the use of awnings and decorative lighting or similar details and limitations on metal siding.

    The commercial standards were introduced because many in the community felt we were getting the second and even third tier of prototypes in franchised or chain store architecture when compared to other communities in the region. The higher commercial standards were seen a something the community deserved. Now an architect is often hired to incorporate the standards and we now see more commercial buildings that go beyond just the minimum requirements in the code.

    The residential standards were introduced because some entry level builders were building whole subdivisions of crap boxes without any design at all. The mid to upper end of the market was already providing most of the required design like a porch or at least some type of identifiable covered entry. The standards were seen as providing long-term value to a neighborhood without creating a significant financial strain on the builders or buyers. Good design does not have to be expensive. Many of the homes built in the problem development before the new standards were implemented are now in foreclosure and are worth significantly less than when they were built only 5 years ago. I think the new standards have helped.

    I think the main purpose of the standards was to make people think about design and how their buildings look and not just how cheap they can build them. They have help bring the standards and expectation up in the whole community.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    One municipality requires vetical and horizontal articulation on the buildings to enhance them. Which is all fine and dandy until I was driving past a mini-warehouse along the freeway. The warehouse had these red angular columns added to the building to give it the articulation which was fine, it made the building a little more interesting than a blacnk wall. Until I saw the 6' redwood fence with...red angular columns attached to the fence to give it...something.
    I guess someone got a little overzealous. I'll try and get a picture and post it.

  5. #5
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    Commercial box

    The Citrus County code has sections relating to commercial strips and malls. The specs in all sections are an attempt to introduce details and relief (wall setbacks and such) from the flat facade found in the old "Mansard" era of commercial architecure. Rather than forcing adherence to any particular architectural style or period, it encourages and requires columns, fenestration, parapets, pilasters and such to break up the flat fascia. It also promotes and requires more creative parking lot design.

    Some results have been a bit "Boca fru fru" but overall the appearance of the commercial corridors has been greatly enhanced. Of course in FLA many of the structures are being re-done from the boom/bust days.

    Community investment in the program seems high, I think partly because the concepts are introduced in the pre-application review process when the project is in its very early stages---------------

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Most of the communities I work with have adopted them, with the usual elements covered. This tends to result in the standard box with tacked on features, rather than anything which might be called attractive.
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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    Most of the communities I work with have adopted them, with the usual elements covered. This tends to result in the standard box with tacked on features, rather than anything which might be called attractive.
    True, and that is why, if its politically possible, one should have an appearance/design board/commission. We have such a commission and along with good design guidelines and we have been getting much less of the "box with tack-ons" in recent years. Though, the occasional abomination does get through.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    True, and that is why, if its politically possible, one should have an appearance/design board/commission. We have such a commission and along with good design guidelines and we have been getting much less of the "box with tack-ons" in recent years. Though, the occasional abomination does get through.
    Very true. We're fortunate to have a Heritage Commission that reviews architecture, and makes recommendations to our Planning Board.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  9. #9
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    we have a design review board and pretty well (I think) articulated standards written by a consultant long before I got here - it's 125-114 in our Code which is on our website: www.barharbormaine.gov

    businesses mostly hate them because they feel they are subjective - some if it is they hate going to a Board to review their facades and some of it is they don't like some of the Board members themselves

    my standard line in response is to say that our tax base is the tourism industry so to stay competitive, we need to care about how we present ourselves to our visitors - the problem is people have the mistaken notion that we don't need to stay competitive

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Architectural standards and design is so subjective by nature and hard to articulate without becoming arbitrary and perceived to be abusive to the developer. It is also hard to be uniform for all cases, and hard to defend your position if challenged on favoritism.

    We have found that in using PUD or CPUD (commercial) overlay districts at the option of the applicant, we can impose requirements that the applicant submit outline design guideline drawings and covenants.

    The design drawings do not depict every building, but show the architectural style that all buildings in his development will have for consistency and compatibility.

    The covenants and drawings show limitations of colors and material types to be used by the developer or any of his builders. These are normally compiled in a brochure format and keep on file like any application.

    The city can make suggestions or demands. If anything is not acceptable to the developer, he can always go back to the basic zoning district requirements that do not address aesthetics.

    So far this has worked well for us.

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