Design Review

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Design Review

The Pasadena Municipal Code requires design review of new construction and alterations throughout the City. To determine if a project will require design review, please review the thresholds listed in the zoning code. The map above illustrates the areas of the city where design review may be required. In addition to the specific thresholds for these areas, all multi-family development projects consisting of 3 or more total units and any new building over 5,000 square feet in size citywide require design review. Depending on the size of the project, design review may be conducted by city staff or at a public hearing before the Design Commission, a group of nine citizens appointed by the Mayor & City Council.

The goals and policies in the Land Use Element of the General Plan support high quality building design in Pasadena. Detailed design guidelines have been adopted for various areas of the city to assist architects, developers, city staff, the Design Commission and the public understand how to achieve high quality building designs. Visit our design guidelines page to view and download the guidelines that apply to each area of the city.

There are three phases of Design Review:

  1. Preliminary Consultation

Applications for design review that involve new construction or major alterations to existing buildings are required to go through a preliminary consultation process to obtain comments on the proposed design concept prior to preparing detailed drawings for the formal decision-making phases of Design Review.

  1. Concept Design Review

Concept Design Review is the primary step in the Design Review process. Applications for Concept Design Review normally address the basic design of a project, including compatibility with surroundings, massing, proportion, siting, void-to-void relationships, and compliance with applicable design guidelines.  A project must first go through Preliminary Consultation before applying for Concept Design Review.

  1. Final Design Review

Final Design Review is the final phase of the Design Review process. It normally focuses on construction details, finishes, materials, landscaping, and on consistency of the project with the design approved during Concept Design Review (as well as compliance with the conditions of the approved Concept Design Review).

Design Guidelines

As part of the design review process, projects will be reviewed for consistency with the adopted design guidelines that apply to the project. Below are links to all adopted design guidelines.

Land Use Element

Design related goals and policies in the Land Use Element of the General Plan apply to all projects subject to Design Review.

Specific Plans

Below are links to the design guidelines chapter of each of the City’s Specific Plan. Projects within the boundaries of a Specific Plan will be reviewed for consistency with that Specific Plan’s design guidelines (see map above). For a list of full Specific Plan documents visit the link below.

View all Specific Plans

Central District

These design guidelines apply to projects in the Central District Specific Plan area.

 

East Colorado Boulevard

These design guidelines apply to projects in the East Colorado Specific Plan area. The Design Guidelines for Neighborhood Commercial & Multi-family Residential Districts also apply in this area.

 

Citywide Design Principles

General design principles from the land use element of the General Plan.  These principles apply to all design review projects citywide.

 

East Pasadena

These design guidelines apply to projects in the East Pasadena Specific Plan area.  The Design Guidelines for Neighborhood Commercial & Multi-family Residential Districts also apply in this area.

 

Fair Oaks/Orange Grove

These design guidelines apply to projects in the Fair Oaks/Orange Grove Specific Plan area.  The Design Guidelines for Neighborhood Commercial & Multi-family Residential Districts also apply in this area.

 

North Lake

These design guidelines apply to projects in the North Lake Specific Plan area.  The Design Guidelines for Neighborhood Commercial & Multi-family Residential Districts also apply in this area.

 

South Fair Oaks

These design guidelines apply to projects in the South Fair Oaks Specific Plan area.  The Design Guidelines for Neighborhood Commercial & Multi-family Residential Districts also apply in this area.

 

Lincoln Avenue

These design guidelines apply to projects in the Lincoln Avenue Pasadena Specific Plan area.

 

Other Design Guidelines

Below are links to other design guidelines that may apply to new development projects. See the description of each set of guidelines to determine those that apply to a specific project.

Design Guidelines For Historic Districts in Pasadena

Design Guidelines for Historic Districts in the City of Pasadena, California, April 2002 with the Secretary of the Interiors Standards for Historic Preservation

 

Neighborhood Commercial and Multi-family Residential Districts

These design guidelines apply to projects in Neighborhood Commercial and Multi-family Residential Zoning Districts and are supplemental to design guidelines in each specific plan area except the Central District.

 

Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties

These guidelines apply to projects that affect designated or eligible historic buildings and may also apply to adjacent sites.

 

Sign Design Guidelines

Where design review is required for new signs (refer to the design review thresholds in the Zoning Code), the Sign Design Guidelines apply.

 

Forms and Applications

The Citywide Design Principles support high quality building design in Pasadena. Detailed design guidelines have been adopted for various areas of the city to assist architects, developers, city staff, the Design Commission and the public understand how to achieve high quality building designs. Visit our design guidelines page to view and download the guidelines that apply to each area of the city.

Master Application Form

Requirement Instructions
Preliminary Consultation submittal requirements Applications for design review that involve new construction or major alterations to existing buildings are required to go through a preliminary consultation process to obtain comments on the proposed design concept prior to preparing detailed drawings for the formal decision-making phases of Design Review. These submittal requirements list the elements of a complete Preliminary Consultation submittal.
Concept Design Review Checklist These submittal requirements list the elements of a complete Concept Design Review submittal
Final Design Review submittal requirements These submittal requirements list the elements of a complete Final Design Review submittal
Consolidated Design Review submittal requirements:

Projects that are minor or that have extensive design requirements in the Zoning Code may, at the discretion of city staff, go through a single phase of formal design review. These submittal requirements list the elements of a complete Consolidated Design Review submittal, where authorized by staff.
Public Notification Packet Use this packet as a guide to preparing mailing labels, radius maps and notice posters for projects that require a public hearing before the Design Commission. Refer to tables 6-2 and 6-3 here to view the thresholds that apply to Design Commission review.
Digital 3D Model Usage Policy Applications for design review that require Design Commission review must include a 3D digital model of the proposed new building. This document describes how the city will use 3D models that are submitted with applications for design review and other entitlements. Applicants are required to sign the document and submit it with their application. Acceptable file formats for 3D models are listed in the design review submittal requirements, which can be accessed below.

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