Design Review

Design reviewDesign review focuses on any exterior work, demolition or development on the site of a locally designated Denver landmark or within the boundaries of a historic district.

Design review ensures that a proposed project preserves key historic features and is compatible with the character of designated historic buildings, sites and districts.

Once a project is approved in design review, Landmark Preservation staff issues a Certificate of Appropriateness, which may be presented as part of the zoning and building reviews that follow. Please follow the steps below to complete the historic design review process.

How to Submit Your Project For Review


Use the Find Landmarks/Districts map at right to determine if your property is a landmark structure or located within a historic district.

TwoView Design Guidelines and Application Materials to download the pre-application form. (Or, if your project is a sign or signs, download the sign review application checklist.) Landmark Preservation has a preliminary application procedure for initial review of proposed projects. Please provide the pre-application form, along with relevant information and photos, to staff. Staff reviews the pre-application within five working days and will contact you as to what further review and documentation may be required. 

ThreeSubmit the completed pre-application to the Landmark Preservation staff. Staff will review the pre-application materials and contact you. 

FourDepending upon the complexity and location of your project, your application may need to be reviewed by the Landmark Preservation Commission or the Lower Downtown Design Review Board.

FiveOnce your application is approved, Landmark Preservation will issue a Certificate of Appropriateness. The certificate must be obtained before applying for a zoning or building permit, if such permits are required for the proposed work.  

Frequently Asked Questions about Design Review

Changes that require Landmark design approval:

If the changes to the outside of your property require a building or zoning permit, you’ll need to submit a design review application to Landmark Preservation prior to obtaining a permit and commencing work. Some examples include the following:

  1. Window replacements -- A building permit is required for window replacement in locally designated historic districts or on Denver landmarks.
  2. Additions to existing buildings (patios, attic conversions, second story and dormer additions)
  3. Garages and carports, accessory dwelling units (ADUs), carriage houses
  4. Mechanical equipment including HVAC, solar, venting, etc.
  5. Detached structures such as gazebos, pergolas, stand alone decks or pool houses, above- or in-ground swimming pools
  6. Patio covers, fences and retaining walls, new exterior doors, roofing, siding, skylights, solar panels, stucco, swamp coolers, window awnings
  7. New building construction 
  8. Signage
  9. Demolitions (other than interior demolition work)


Changes that do not require Landmark design approval:

  1. Interior work that does not affect building exteriors
  2. Minor repairs that do not require a building permit
  3. Painting a house a different color
  4. Repointing masonry
  5. Repairing an existing window (e.g., replacing a broken pane of glass)
  6. Installation or removal of plant material

For specific information on residential projects, view web pages under Development Services for Inside the Home, Outside the Home, and Building / Expanding a Home.

Yes.  Landmark Preservation reviews design changes to all buildings in historic districts, even when they are newer (“non-contributing” “non-historic” “outside the period of significance”).  The purpose of this review is to ensure that any proposed changes are compatible with the character of other historic buildings and the historic district. 

Yes.  Landmark Preservation reviews plans for all buildings in a locally designated historic district.  The purpose of this review is to ensure that new construction is compatible with adjacent historic buildings and the overall character of the historic district.

When the proposed building is located on a vacant lot or on a developed lot but does not involve demolition of existing buildings: 
Please contact city staff to obtain more information.  You will need to complete a Certificate of Appropriateness application form and submit all materials on the Design Review Infill Construction checklist to Landmark Preservation.   New construction requires a two-step review by the Landmark Preservation Commission or Lower Downtown Design Review Board: 

  1. Scale and Massing Review
  2. Final Review (including all architectural details) 

When the proposed building requires the demolition of existing buildings:  
Landmark Preservation approval of the demolition work will be required before you can submit plans for a new replacement structure on the same site.  For more information on this process, go to demolition review.  

Yes.  Standards, guidelines and policies have been approved by the Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) and the Lower Downtown Design Review Board (LDDRB) to guide design review and provide applicants reasonable expectations of what is expected.

For additional information, go to design guidelines.

View the historic property/district hardship policy and procedures related to requests for zoning variances.

The time frames for design review will depend on the completeness of the application, the complexity of the project and the extent to which the project meets historic preservation guidelines.

Please submit all materials required with your application.  Incomplete applications delay the design review process.

Landmark preservation staff will review your project to determine whether it can be approved administratively or will require review by the Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) or Lower Downtown Design Review Board (LDDRB).

For projects requiring LPC or LDDRB review, applications, including all required submittal materials, are to be submitted three (3) weeks prior to the next available meeting.  Please be aware that some projects will require multiple reviews by the LPC or LDDRB.  For example, an infill project requires a twostep review.  See the question “Does Landmark Preservation review plans for new buildings?” for more information. UPDATE: Starting 2015, the deadline for LPC submittals (not LDDRB) will change to four (4) weeks prior to the next available meeting. 

Please coordinate with Landmark Preservation staff to get a time estimate for the design review of your project.  

There is no fee for a design review.

Design Review Projects

Every project is different. Depending on the complexity and specifics of your project, the design review requirements, process and time frame may vary from the information presented on this website and in the application materials. If you have any questions, please contact us.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The information on this page should not be used as a substitute for codes and regulations. The applicant is responsible for compliance with all code and rule requirements, whether or not described in this page.

Contact Us

Landmark Preservation Office:

Office hours:
8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday - Friday
Staff hours vary (appointments recommended)

Application Materials

View the application materials page to download the guidelines and application/checklists for submitting an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness.