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Design Ordinances

Design ordinances

Hey everybody, I am working on a project with one of my professors and was wondering if anybody could help me find some information on specific design ordinances for cities. For example, if any is from Michigan Frankenmuth would be an example of how the city mandates you to follow a strict building design code along the Bavarian/Germanic design style. I would appreciate any help I can get because so far I havent got much. Thanks,

Matt Wagner


Bounty Hunter
The first thing that comes to mind is Seaside, Florida. They have specific guidelines... strictly new urbanist stuff. Celebration also comes to mind. From the stuff that I have read, both towns have visual design guides, ones that don't look like your typical zoning regulations. If you are at MSU, I'm assuming they have extensive online library resources. If so, go ahead and see if you can find one of these manuals online, or if one actually is on the shelf. Perhaps a good start is with "Seaside : Making a Town in America," edited by David Mohney and Keller Easterling, New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, c1991. If that book doesn't work, be sure to flip through the bibliography and see what else looks promising.

Regarding Frankenmuth and their design codes, how specific of a code/regulation are you looking for? That is, what aspects and how extensive of a design code are you seeking? Even though Frankenmuth regulates design so that they have that "little Bavaria" look going on, it seems that they don't even regulate building materials. Many of the new buildings that are going up are made of Drivit (EIFS), and that material, although vibrant and attractive, is not permanent and looks engineered and molded, essentially fake-looking. All I'm trying to say is that not all design codes are created equal and many address different design components, other than the exterior look and facade of the building.


Dear Leader
Staff member
GreenArch - will a 12 MB e-mail to you be bounced back?

We've got very extensive architectural design regulations. There's two specific architectural styles that can be used in addition to following the letter of the design requirements; requirements for those styles override the general design requirements if there's a conflict.

407.7 Supplemental architectural standards: Old Town design theme

407.7.1 Intent
The Old Town design theme encompasses several styles of commercial retail architecture common throughout the East and Midwest, on downtown Main Streets and town centers, which lend themselves to creating a unique, inviting, pedestrian-friendly commercial environment.

The Old Town design theme is encouraged in the C-V and C-G zoning districts. The intent of this section is to foster a community of unique architectural themes that are appropriate for preserving Oakland’s unique character in the face of growth, rather than impart false histories or create a built environment of “stage set” or “doll house” architecture.

407.7.2 Applicability
Standards in this section may be used instead of the Land Development Code architectural design requirements of for new non-residential development (§407.5, §407.6).

407.7.3 Form and mass
The typical storefront of the late 1800s and early 1900s includes a centrally placed, recessed door flanked by display windows. Windows are raised off the ground by wood, stone or metal bulkheads. The signboard above the storefront is a prominent part of the building, and canvas awnings or shed roofs are often used to shade the storefront and shelter outdoor displays from the elements. Buildings were constructed of brick, stone or a combination of the two, and have one or two stories. Two story buildings usually contain retail uses on the first floor, and offices or residences on the second floor; one story buildings are usually devoted exclusively to retail uses to promote and take advantage of pedestrian traffic. Architectural details found on turn-of-the-century retail buildings include elements of Italianate, Venetian Gothic, Neo-Georgian, Renaissance Revival and French Second Empire styles.

407.7.4 Exterior walls and façades

407.7.4.1 Pattern
Walls must include a repeating pattern that includes three or more of these elements:
• color change (a);
• texture change (b);
• material module change (c)
• an expression of architectural or structural bays through a change in plane at 0.5’ (0.15 m) or more wide, such as an offset, reveal or projecting rib (d).

One or more of elements (a), (b) or (c) must repeat horizontally. All elements must repeat at intervals of ≤30’ (9 m).

407.7.4.2 Base
Walls must have a recognizable base with:
• thicker walls, ledges or sills;
• integrally textured materials such as stone or other masonry;
• integrally colored and patterned materials such as smooth-finished stone;
• lighter or darker colored materials, mullions or panels; or
• planters.

and a recognizable top with:
• cornice treatments, other than just colored "stripes" or "bands," with integrally textured materials such as stone or other masonry or differently colored materials;
• sloping roof with overhangs and brackets;
• stepped parapets.

407.7.4.3 Four sided design
All walls must include materials and design characteristics consistent with those on the front façade. Inferior or lesser quality materials for side or rear walls are prohibited.

407.7.4.4 Street facing walls
• Walls facing streets, parking lots (excluding parking lots at rear loading docks), and/or connecting pedestrian walkways must not have a blank, uninterrupted length more than 20’ (6 m) without including two or more of these features: change in plane, change in texture or masonry pattern, windows, or other equivalent elements that subdivide the wall into human scale proportions.
• Side or rear walls facing walkways may include false windows and door openings defined by frames, sills and lintels, or similarly proportioned modulations of the wall, only when actual doors and windows are not feasible.

407.7.4.5 Street facing façades
Façades and walls facing streets, parking lots (excluding parking lots at rear loading docks), and/or connecting pedestrian walkways must be subdivided and proportioned using features such as windows, display areas, entrances, arcades, arbors, and awnings along ≥60% of the façade.

407.7.4.6 Awnings
Awnings may be placed over windows, doors and patios. Awnings must not stretch across the entire storefront or façade.

407.7.4.7 Transparency
• The first floor front and walkway facing façades and walls of Old Town style buildings, must have windows and doors between 3’ (1 m) and 8’ (2.4 m) above the walkway grade for ≥80% of the façade.
• The second floor front and walkway facing façades and walls must have windows between 3’ and 8’ above the walkway grade for ≥50% of the façade length.
• Side and rear walls must have windows and doors between 3’ (1 m) and 8’ (2.4 m) above the surface grade for ≥25% of the façade or wall length.
• Window and door frames ≤0.5’ (0.15 m) wide are included in the calculation of transparent frontage length.

407.7.4.8 Garage doors
• Garage bay doors must be segmented, with windows covering ≥50% of the garage surface.
• Garage doors must be recessed ≥2’ (.7 m) behind the building façade.
• Roll-up garage doors are prohibited.

407.7.4.9 Building roofs
• Roofs must appear to be flat.
• Rooftop and ground mounted mechanical equipment must be completely screened (visually and acoustically) from the public right-of-way and adjacent properties.

407.7.5 Materials and colors

407.7.5.1 Building materials
• Acceptable building materials include brick, stone, marble, and cast iron. Shell-based stucco may be used for ≤20% of the building surface.
• Concrete block and concrete masonry units, painted masonry, tilt-up concrete panels, metal siding and prefabricated metal panels are prohibited.
• Wood can be used for trim and other architectural details, but not as the predominant surface material.

407.7.5.2 Colors
• Material colors must be low-reflecting, subtle and neutral or earth-toned. Trim must be painted or colored a dark shade of green, blue, maroon or brown.
• High-intensity colors, metallic colors, black or fluorescent colors are prohibited.

407.7.5.3 Architectural details
Stock “lumberyard colonial” detailing such as coach lanterns, mansard overhangs, wood shakes, inoperable shutters, bicentennial eagles and inappropriately scaled windows (i.e. “Ye Olde Village Store”) should be avoided.

407.8 Supplemental architectural standards: Florida Cracker design theme

407.8.1 Intent
The influences of climate, history, and the availability of suitable building materials have combined to produce a unique architectural response in Central Florida, evidence of which is still visible in the built environment of the Town of Oakland. The Florida Cracker style, a vernacular interpretation of the National Folk style as applied in Central Florida, reflects this design character.

The Florida Cracker design theme is encouraged for new buildings in the C-G and I-G zoning districts. The Florida Cracker style is found mostly in residential buildings, but it is an appropriate style for commercial buildings containing only one or a few uses or tenants, and small retail and office centers. The style may be easily included into larger retail centers. The intent of this section is to foster a community of unique architectural themes appropriate for preserving Oakland’s unique character in the face of growth, rather than impart false histories or create an environment of “stage set” or “doll house” architecture.

407.8.2 Applicability
Standards in this section may be used instead of the architectural design requirements of §320.11 and §320.13, for new non-residential development.

407.8.3 Form and mass
Florida Cracker buildings are one story structures with pitched roofs, often using the volume inside as an attic or additional story. (Two story buildings may be considered if they meet the spirit and intent of this section.) Dormers are used with restraint. “Hall and parlor” style houses consist of two or three separate rooms or “buildings” under one roof, separated by open walkways and verandahs. Hip or gable roofs are used, with less steep pitches for secondary roofs covering porches and loggias.

407.8.4 Exterior walls and façades

407.8.4.1 Windows on all elevations
Windows must be included on all elevations, and must appear to be casement or double hung type. Fixed glass and/or false exterior mullions are permitted. Closed shutters, three-sided fabric awnings, spandrel glass or other vernacular architectural features may be used to achieve a vertical appearance.

407.8.4.2 Shutters
For windows with shutters, the shutter dimensions must be scaled to the window to give the appearance of operable shutters. If shutters are used to create verticality, they do not have to provide the appropriate vertical dimension needed to cover the window fully.

407.8.4.3 Window verticality
Window openings must appear to be vertical in nature, with a minimum height to width ratio of 1:1.5. Secondary windows placed on the building side or rear, in a clerestory with lower windows, in gables or in dormers must have a minimum height to width ratio of 1:1. Secondary windows must be divided with fixed mullions; false mullions on the glass interior are prohibited.

407.8.4.4 Transparency
Façades and side walls of Florida Cracker style buildings must have windows and doors between 3’ and 8’ above the walkway grade for ≥50% of the façade length. Window and door frames are included in the calculation of transparent frontage.

407.8.4.5 Porches
A single, continuous, integral covered porch or loggia ≥6’ (2 m) deep must front ≥60% of the front and side façade length. Roof supports must be spaced 5’ (1.5 m) to 10’ (3 m) apart.

407.8.4.6 Garage doors
Garage bay doors must be segmented, with windows covering ≥50% of the garage surface. Roll-up garage doors are prohibited. Garage doors must be recessed ≥1’ (.3 m) behind the building façade.

407.8.5 Building roofs

407.8.5.1 Form
Roof form must be side gabled, simple hipped, or gable on hip, with or without ridge; and may include a secondary extended roof covering ≤20% of the building footprint. A cupola with exposed rafters and eaves may be used to top a hipped roof. A flat roof may cover ≤25% of the building footprint, but must include a deck hip with an 8:12 to 12:12 slope, exposed rafters and eaves, and a decorative railing.

407.8.5.2 Pitch
Gabled or hipped roof pitch must be 6:12 to 12:12. The pitch of extended roofs, which usually cover a walkway or porch, must be less than the main part of the roof, but ≥3:12.

407.8.5.3 Eaves
Roofs must include overhanging eaves with exposed rafters and brackets projecting ≥1.5’ (0.5 m) from the wall.

407.8.5.4 Dormers and gables
Regularly spaced dormers with gable end windows may be used in moderation for attic and second floor rooms.

407.8.5.5 Materials
Acceptable roofing materials include metal shingles, V-crimp metal sheet or standing seam metal. Roofs may be unpainted or painted dark green, black, gray, or silver.

407.8.5.6 Rooftop mechanical equipment
Rooftop and ground mounted mechanical equipment must be completely screened (visually and acoustically) from the public right-of-way and adjacent properties.

407.8.6 Materials and colors

407.8.6.1 Building materials
• Appropriate building materials include siding (both horizontal siding and vertical board-and-batton, brick, stone, and shell-based stucco.
• Brick, stone and shell-based stucco may be used as a wainscot or base course covering ≤33% of all walls.
• Concrete block and concrete masonry units, painted masonry, tilt-up concrete panels, and prefabricated metal panels are prohibited.

407.8.6.2 Colors
Building material colors must be low reflecting, subtle and neutral or earth-toned. High-intensity colors, metallic colors, black or fluorescent colors are prohibited. Trim must be lighter than the body, preferably painted white.

407.8.6.3 Frames and corner boards
Corner boards ≥0.5’ (0.15 m) wide must be included into the building design. Doors must have casement boards ≥0.5” (0.15 m) wide.



Dan wrote:

407.8 Supplemental architectural standards: Florida Cracker design theme

Florida Cracker is an architectural style?! I always thought that was a disparaging term. When life gives you lemons....


A shadow of my former self
Staff member
From my Town's Site Plan Regulations (apologize for the formatting. It can be viewed in PDF format at http://www.londonderry.org/page.asp?Page_Id=272) :

a. The applicant shall submit a rendering of the proposed building showing front, side and rear view elevations. The building design should be consistent with the character of the Town of Londonderry and sensitive to its natural and man-made surroundings. The design goals of this section are to promote traditional New England style buildings for commercial development; and to encourage high quality building design which improves the aesthetic character of the community. Non-residential buildings are subject to the following design guidelines and standards. In this section, “Standards” are mandatory; “Guidelines” are not mandatory, but are provided in order to educate planners, design consultants, developers and Town staff about the design objectives. These standards and guidelines are to be used in conjunction with the all other sections of these regulations and Town ordinances. Any waiver from a standard in this section must be made in writing, and be supported by justification in accordance with Section 7.04
1. Guidelines
i. New buildings should not exceed the average height of existing buildings on abutting property and the general area, however, greater distances between buildings may allow for larger differences in height.
ii. The window and wall openings of new buildings should be in similar proportions to existing structures when they are in close proximity to the site development.
2. Standard
i. Because of their mass and typical design characteristics, large scale retail establishments of greater than 25,000 square feet shall be subject to Section 3.12h.
1. Relate the vertical, horizontal, or non-directional facade characteristics to the predominant directional expression of nearby buildings. This emphasis is created by the arrangement of the structure’s door and window openings.
2. Door and window openings should be proportional to facade length and height.
i. All windows and doors should be of a traditional New England character.
i. Large plate glass windows are discouraged unless they are broken with mullions or muttons.
ii. Mirrored glass or colored metal panels are not acceptable windows.
iii. Doorways should be encased with trim.
3. Foundation walls should not be exposed to more than 3 feet in height from grade.
1. Guidelines:
i. Roof forms should be of various pitch variety, common to traditional New England Architecture
ii. Gable, hip roofs, shed, gambrel, mansard style roofs are acceptable. All roofs should have appropriate overhangs.
iii. Flat roofs should not be completely eliminated from consideration, but should only be built when the size of the building does not permit a pitched roof.
iv. Shingled roofs constructed of asphalt or wooden shingles are preferred. Standing seam, copper, or metal roofs are acceptable under certain circumstances.
v. Avoid long unbroken expanses of roofs through the use of dormers, chimneys, and changes in ridgeline.
vi. Multiple roof plane slopes are acceptable, but should be limited.
2. Standards:
i. Roofs shall be constructed of materials which are commonly found in New England.
ii. All rooftop mechanical/ventilation equipment must be placed in such a manner so that it is not visibly apparent at the nearest street right-of-way. This may be accomplished by using architectural treatment/camouflaging (walls, parapets, false chimneys, etc.) or by other appropriate means.
1. Any features and details such as balconies, decks, covered porches, columns, dormers, turrets, towers, skylights and arches should be in proportion with the building.
2. Accurate restoration of existing detail is encouraged, however use of historical details on contemporary structures should be included only when appropriate to the overall design
1. Guidelines:
i. Exteriors of new buildings should utilize materials appropriate for the character of the building. Brick, clapboard, shingles, stone, or architectural concrete block are preferred, and encouraged for wall surfaces.
ii. Subtle colors should be used on larger and very plain buildings, while smaller buildings with elaborate detailing can use more colors. Colors should reflect traditional New England colors with accenting trim work.
iii. Colors that are disharmonious with other colors used on the building or found on adjacent structures should be avoided.
iv. Paint colors should relate to the natural material colors found on the building such as brick, terra-cotta, stone or ceramic tile and existing elements such as signs or awnings.
v. Contrasting colors, which accent architectural details and entrances, are encouraged.
2. Standards:
i. All exterior surfaces visible to the public shall be covered with a siding material and long term maintenance characteristics of all materials should be considered during the selection process.
ii. Neon tubing shall not be used as a feature, trim, or accent area for buildings.
iii. The rear and side elevations shall incorporate the materials, design details and theme when exposed to public view.

g. SIGNAGE: Signs should be visible and legible through the use of appropriate details and proper locations. Allowable sign areas and locations are explained in Section XXI of the Londonderry Zoning Ordinance. The following design guidelines will give examples and methods of adding interest and quality to a building project while enhancing the overall project.
1. Scale and proportion: Every sign should be an integral, subordinate element within the overall building and site design. The scale and proportion of the signage shall not overpower the building or obscure the building’s architectural features.
2. Materials: Sign materials should harmonize with the building’s design. A simple and direct message, with upper and lowercase lettering is most effective. A limited number of colors should be used with light colored lettering placed on a matte, dark background which reduces reflected glare.
3. Illumination: Illumination of signs should be from an indirect light source to reduce glare and ensure attention is focused on the sign. The light should be contained within the sign frame and not spill over onto other portions of the building or site. Internally illuminated signage should provide opaque backgrounds with translucent lettering.
4. Coordination: All signage within a building complex should be coordinated by using similar materials, lettering, styles, colors, and overall sign sizes to ensure sign continuity and a uniform appearance throughout the development.
5. Logos and Graphics: Company logos should be incorporated into the overall sign and not become the sign itself.
1. The following standards and guidelines are intended to be used as design aid by developers proposing large retail developments and as an evaluation tool by the Town staff and the Planning Board in their review processes. These standards and guidelines apply to all projects for retail establishments of more than 25,000 square feet.
i. Guidelines:
a. Facades should be articulated to reduce the massive scale and the uniform, impersonal appearances of large retail buildings and provide visual interest that will be consistent with the community’s identity character, and scale. The intent is to encourage a more human scale that Londonderry residents will be able to identify with their community.
b. Avoid expanses of wall using jogs, pilasters, architectural detailing, changes in surface materials, colors, textures, and rooflines.
c. Uninterrupted facades should not exceed 50% of the building wall.
ii. Standards:
a. Facades greater than 100 feet in length, measured horizontally, shall incorporate wall plane projections or recesses having a depth of a least 3% of the length of the facade and extending at least 20% of the length of the facade. No uninterrupted length of any facade shall exceed 100 horizontal feet.
b. Ground floor facades that face public streets shall have arcades, display windows, entry areas, awnings, or other such features along no less than 60% of their horizontal length.
i. Guideline: Buildings should have architectural features and patterns that provide visual interests, at the scale of the pedestrian, reduce massive aesthetic effects, and recognize local character. The elements in the following standard should be integral parts of the building fabric, and not superficially applied trim or graphics, or paint.
ii. Standard: Building facades must include a repeating pattern that shall include no less than three of the elements listed below. At least one of these elements shall repeat horizontally. All elements shall repeat at intervals of no more than thirty (30) feet, either horizontally or vertically.
a. Color Change
b. Texture Change
c. Material Module Change
d. Expression of architectural or structural bay through a change in plane no less than 12 inches in width, such as an offset, reveal, or projecting rib.
i. Guideline: Variations in roof lines should be used to add interest to, and reduce the massive scale of large buildings. Roof features should compliment the character of adjoining neighborhoods.
ii. Standard: Roofs shall have no less than 2 of the following features:
a. Parapets concealing flat roofs and rooftop equipment such as HVAC units from public view. The average height of such parapets shall not exceed 15% of the height of the supporting wall and such parapets shall not at any point exceed one-third of the height of the supporting wall. Such parapets shall feature three-dimensional cornice treatment.
b. Overhanging eaves, extending no less than 3 feet past the supporting walls.
c. Sloping roofs that do not exceed the average height of the supporting walls, with an average slope greater than or equal to 1 foot of vertical rise for every 1 foot of horizontal run, and less than or equal to 1 foot of vertical rise for every 1 foot of horizontal run.
d. Three or more roof slope planes.
i. Guideline: Exterior building materials and colors comprise a significant part of the visual impact of a building. Therefore, they should be aesthetically pleasing and compatible with materials and colors used in adjoining neighborhoods.
ii. Standards:
a. Predominant exterior building materials shall be high quality materials. These include, without limitation: Brick, wood, granite sandstone, other native stone, tinted/textured concrete masonry units.
b. Facade colors shall be low reflectance, subtle, neutral, or earth tone colors. The use of high intensity colors, metallic colors, black or fluorescent colors is prohibited.
c. Building trim and accent areas may feature brighter colors, including primary colors, but neon tubing shall not be an acceptable feature for building trim or accent areas.
d. Predominant exterior building materials shall not include the following: smooth faced concrete block, tilt-up concrete panels, pre-fabricated steel panels.
i. Guideline: Entryway design elements and variations should give orientation and aesthetically pleasing character to the building. The standards identify desirable entryway design features.
ii. Standard: Each principal building on a site shall have clearly defined, highly visible customer entrances featuring no less than three of the following:
a. canopies or porticos
b. overhangs
c. recesses/projections
d. arcades
e. raised corniced parapets over the door
f. peaked roof forms
g. arches
h. outdoor patios
i. display windows
j. architectural details such as tile work and moldings which are integrated into the building structure and design
k. integral planters or wing walls that incorporate landscaped areas and/or places for sitting
i. Guideline: All facades of a building which are visible from adjoining properties and/or public streets should contribute to the pleasing scale features of the building and encourage community integration by featuring characteristics similar to the front facade.
ii. Standard: All building facades, which are visible from adjoining properties and/or public streets, shall comply with the requirements of Section 3.12h, item 2, above.