LA Considers Citywide Design Guidelines

19 Mar

In early February 2013, the Los Angeles City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee held its first public hearing on the proposed Citywide Design Guidelines that would set a series of enforceable design standards for all new construction or renovations that increase floor area on a particular project. The guidelines provide visual directions (i.e., “Recommended” and “Not Recommended”) for residential (excluding single-family), commercial, and industrial development.

Some have praised the enforcement of these guidelines as a good first step to discouraging “bad” design such as strip malls and street-facing parking lots. By placing a “blanket” of regulations over the city, urban planners say, they can focus on more neighborhood-specific design parameters.  For example, the neighborhood specific Broadway Design Guidelines have guided the design of the remarkably appealing new G.H. Palmer development in Downtown Los Angeles. On the other hand, critics argue that these guidelines may inadvertently stifle design innovation. The Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects put together a committee to provide more input on the Citywide Design Guidelines so as to ensure architectural creativity, but restrict unsightly design.

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