historic preservation

Design Review

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What is Design Review?

Design review is an approval process that certain projects involving historic properties must complete prior to the start of work, or issuance of permits.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission reviews projects for historic compatibility at its regular public meetings, and if the work meets the standards for historic treatment, issues a certificate of approval. 

Does my project require review by the Landmarks Commission?

In general, exterior work on City Landmarks that is visible requires design review.

In the North Slope Historic District, changes that require building permits require review before permits can be issued. 

What is the process for design review? 

Most simple projects take a total of about four weeks for the Commission to review, from submittal of application until approval.  More complex projects usually require several meetings, including informational briefings in design development and schematic, in addition to final design review.

Here are the general steps of the process:

  1. Review the Standards and Guidelines for Historic Buildings.  Many property owners want to know whether their project will be approved by the Commission ahead of the meeting.  The Landmarks Commission reviews projects according to its Standards, which include design guidelines and the Secretary of the Interior’s Guidelines for Rehabilitation.  In some cases, pre-application meetings or Commission briefings are beneficial for larger or more complex projects.  Contact the Historic Preservation Officer (bottom of page) for more information.

  2. Download the appropriate application form and fill it out in its ENTIRETY.  The form is available in the in the menu in the right hand column.

  3. Submit your plans for preliminary review to the Permit Intake Center (Planning and Development Services).  This ensures your application meets applicable codes and will avoid delays down the road.  Projects requiring variances generally must obtain the variances prior to Landmarks Commission review. 

  4. Submit your plans to the Historic Preservation Office, either via regular mail or in person:  make 15 copies of the application form and any supporting materials, and deliver to the address below along with the APPLICATION FEE payable to the City Treasurer.

  5. Scheduling.  Once your application is received, staff will review it for completeness and schedule it for the next available agenda.  The Landmarks Commission meets on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month, and applications must be complete TWO WEEKS in advance of the desired meeting date.  When your application has been scheduled for review, you will be notified.

  6. Present your application to the Commission.  In most cases, it is required that the applicant be present to respond to questions or recommendations from the Commission.

  7. Apply for permits.  Once the Commission has reviewed your application, generally a decision is reached at the same meeting.  Once an approval is granted, you may obtain permits.  Incomplete applications, or requests for clarification, may result in the item being moved to a subsequent agenda.


Questions regarding building codes, zoning, variances, commercial plan review, and other concerns should be directed to:

Buildings and Land Use Services
Community and Economic Development Department 
747 Market Street, 3rd Floor

Questions about historic preservation requirements, design review and other cultural resource issues should be directed to:

Historic Preservation Officer
253-591-5220, or