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Citywide historic design standards

  • 1.  Citywide historic design standards

    Posted 07-09-2018 18:23

    Hi colleagues,

    We in Austin are discussing the possibility of common design standards for all designated historic properties in the city. Currently, our historic landmarks must follow the Secretary's Standards, which are clearly time-tested but can be vague for laypeople. Meanwhile, our prospective local historic districts develop their own design standards as part of the application process, which theoretically adds a nice measure of self-determination but also adds time, cost, uncertainty, and another layer of politics. (And practically speaking, the resulting standards are typically very similar to other districts.) We'd like to provide clearer guidance for current and potential historic property owners and streamline the historic district application process.

    Do you know of other communities that have adopted citywide historic design standards? If so, we'd love to see what they came up with.

    Thanks in advance for any recommendations and leads!

    Cara Bertron



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    Senior Planner / Deputy Historic Preservation Officer
    City of Austin Planning and Zoning Department
    (512) 974-1446 / cara.bertron@austintexas.gov
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  • 2.  RE: Citywide historic design standards

    Posted 07-10-2018 08:08
    I was recently impressed with the historic design standards from Milwaukee - quite comprehensive.  However Milwaukee has architecture different from Austin.  https://city.milwaukee.gov/cityclerk/hpc/Publications#.W0ShJtVKjIU

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    Diane Oestreich
    Rock Island IL
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  • 3.  RE: Citywide historic design standards

    Posted 07-10-2018 19:52

    Hi Cara,

    Here in the City of Anaheim, we have a Citywide Historic Preservation Plan which is intended to provide guidance for owners of current and potential historic properties throughout the City. It relies on the Secretary of the Interior's Standards, but breaks down the design guidelines in an easier to understand format. In this way, it is useful for a variety of architectural styles. The Plan is located on our website, at the following link: City of Anaheim Citywide Historic Preservation Plan



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    Christine Nguyen
    Historic Preservation Planner
    City of Anaheim
    Anaheim, CA
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  • 4.  RE: Citywide historic design standards

    Posted 07-13-2018 07:50
    These guidelines for Anaheim are very well done. They emphasize compatibility of new elements and construction with the historic fabric, recognizing that continuing the style of the historic structure is often a good way to achieve that. Good luck with your efforts there in Anaheim!

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    Steven Semes
    Professor of Architecture
    Director, Graduate Program in Historic Preservation
    University of Notre Dame
    Notre Dame Indiana
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  • 5.  RE: Citywide historic design standards

    Posted 07-24-2018 09:07
    Timely discussion! The city of Columbus, Ohio is gearing up to create citywide guidelines for all 18 designated districts. We (German Village Historic District) are participating in the draft as this district created district-specific guidelines decades ago.
     We too are looking for outstanding examples of guidelines that incorporate the sustainability guidelines, have broad applications across several districts and are presented in a very user-friendly format.

    I will certainly explore the links presented here in this thread and appreciate the suggestions.  Anyone can reach out directly at NKotting@germanvillage.com  Thank you!

    Nancy

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    Nancy Kotting
    German Village Society
    Columbus OH
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  • 6.  RE: Citywide historic design standards

    Posted 07-11-2018 12:05
    ​Iowa City, Iowa adopted it first Historic Preservation Plan in 1992 (which was updated in 2008). The Historic Preservation Commission was created in 1982 with the first regulated districts in 1984. For many years the Commission had a design committee that reviewed every application for exterior change based on the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation.
    Iowa City has eight Historic Districts that are all local districts and also listed in the National Register and five Conservation Districts that are just a local designation. We also regulate 52 individual local landmarks. Some of those are also listed in the National Register and some are not. In addition, we have some additional properties and districts that are only listed in the National Register and are not locally regulated.
    Most of the properties that are locally regulated are residential properties. In 2010, Iowa City adopted the Preservation Handbook that includes a review process and design guidelines that are used for all the regulated properties. With that said, each property is reviewed individually because it is not possible for us to create guidelines that pertain to all properties absolutely. Occasionally, a property falls under review that doesn't fit the guidelines so the commission refers to the SOI Standards, too. The main focus of our guidelines is retaining original, historic material. Many of our documents including those listed above are found here: Historic preservation resources and documents | City of Iowa City.

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    Jessica Bristow
    Historic Preservation Planner
    City of Iowa City
    Iowa City IA
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  • 7.  RE: Citywide historic design standards

    Posted 07-12-2018 10:01
    ​We have one book each for commercial and residential standards:
    Publications
    Living with History for residential
    Good for Business for commercial

    There are guidelines specific to each district and each individual property that get into details on where fences are allowed and other localized details, but overall, the books are our citywide guidelines.


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    Timothy Askin
    Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission
    Milwaukee WI
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  • 8.  RE: Citywide historic design standards

    Posted 07-13-2018 07:32
    The Milwaukee publications are impressive. I was particularly pleased to see that both encourage replacement elements or additions to continue the architectural style and materials of the historic structure, and specifically discourage attempts at abstracted or modernized historic detail. This is very sensible and promotes continuity of character. So many historic properties have been damaged by excessively "differentiated" new elements and additions due to a misunderstanding of the Secretary's Standards, which nowhere require that a different style be used for new work. The other, equally important term in Standard 9 is "compatible," and that too often receives insufficient attention. Often the best approach to compatibility is what I call "Invention Within a Style," which is discussed in a chapter in my book, "The Future of the Past: A Conservation Ethic for Architecture, Urbanism, and Historic Preservation" (W. W. Norton & Co., 2009). Thank you for sharing these publications and good luck in your efforts in Milwaukee!

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    Steven Semes
    Professor of Architecture
    Director, Graduate Program in Historic Preservation
    University of Notre Dame
    Notre Dame Indiana
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  • 9.  RE: Citywide historic design standards

    Posted 07-13-2018 10:11
    The Iowa City Preservation Handbook is very thorough and clear. It is especially helpful that the requirements for new construction are empirically based on the styles and types that have occurred historically in the districts.  It is also good to see the Secretary's Standards requirement for "differentiation" defined in terms of setbacks and other subtle means.  I am curious to know how the limits on total surface area on street elevations were determined, and what kinds of results and feedback you have had since these went into effect.

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    Steven Semes
    Professor of Architecture
    Director, Graduate Program in Historic Preservation
    University of Notre Dame
    Notre Dame Indiana
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