Landmark Preservation Design Guidelines Update

Latest News 

Share your voice 

Public input is an important part of how we will craft landmark design guidelines for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on individual landmark and historic district properties. We want to hear from community members on key questions regarding ADUs and how they should be integrated into historic properties. Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey below to share your thoughts.

Take the ADU Design Guidelines Survey


Thank you to everyone who participated in the community meetings to review our windows guidelines last fall. Staff presented a discussion item on the project to the Landmark Preservation Commission on Tuesday, February 6, 2024. 

View the recording of the meeting 

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

Thank you to everyone who attended our community meetings and shared their feedback on design guidelines for ADUs. If you are interested in participating in the project and have not had the opportunity, we encourage you to take our survey. Additional options for how to get involved will be posted here soon. 

ADU Design Guidelines Survey

Definitions and FAQs

What are Design Guidelines?

Design Guidelines help architects, contractors, and owners of individual landmarks and properties in historic districts design sensitive alterations that protect the historic, architectural, or cultural features that make the property significant. The design guidelines serve as the rules and regulations that Landmark Preservation staff and the Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) use to evaluate proposed changes. The guidelines are based on the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for the treatment of historic properties while expanding on the basic rehabilitation principles with a specific focus on Denver. Learn more about the design guidelines and the design review process for landmark properties and districts in Denver.

What are ADUs?

Our informational video series offers important background and context on what ADUs are and the process for building one.

Video 1: Introduction to ADUs


Video 2: ADUs and Tandem Houses

Video 3: Density in Historic Districts and Zoning Updates


About the project

The Design Guidelines for Denver Landmark Structures and Districts(PDF, 24MB) were initially developed through a public process from 2012 to 2014, with a minor update in January 2016. Due to evolving needs and the desire for greater flexibility, Landmark Preservation staff and the LPC recognize that the design guidelines need a comprehensive update. Changes to the Design Guidelines for Denver Landmark Structures and Districts must be adopted by the Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) through a public rule-making process.

The design guideline update will be divided into four phases with each phase anticipated to take 9-12 months. Each phase will include community meetings and input, public review of draft updates, and a public hearing and vote by Denver’s Landmark Preservation Commission.

Note: The design guideline update does not affect customized design guidelines written for specific historic districts, including Civic Center Historic District, Country Club Gardens Historic District, Country Club Historic District, Five Points Historic Cultural District, La Alma Lincoln Park, and the Lower Downtown Historic District.

Project Kickoff (Sept. 2021)

The design guideline update project kicked off with a virtual community meeting on September 29, 2021. View the September 29, 2021 Project Kickoff meeting.

Phase 1 (Adopted Nov. 2022)

Phase 1 of the design guideline update included revisions to guidelines for solar panels, retaining walls, and wall cladding materials for additions, infill, and accessory structures. It also included clarifications to existing guidelines about egress windows and wells, landscaping, fencings, lighting, and sheds.



Throughout phase 1 of the design guidelines update, we shared the project’s progress through social media posts, Landmark newsletters, and updates with City Council members for their constituent newsletters.  We also emailed updates to frequent applicants, past meeting attendees, and Registered Neighborhood Organizations (RNOs).  We had 41 participants at our November 2021 community meeting, 64 participants of the online survey, 102 comments and 3 letters focused on the public review draft, and 7 commenters at the LPC Discussion Items and Public Hearing.

Phase 2 (Kicked off Sept. 6)

Phase 2 will include revisions to guidelines about window replacement, alterations to historic buildings, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), signage, and accessibility. This phase will also include clarifications to guidelines about site work and small accessory structures.

Three community meetings were held focused on updates to our window replacement guidelines.

Wednesday, September 6 | 6-7 p.m.
Watch a recording of the Zoom meeting

Tuesday, September 12 | 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Carla Madison Rec Center

Monday, November 6 | 7-8 p.m.
Zoom meeting

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
Two community meeting have been held on our ADU design guidelines.

Tuesday, February 27 | 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Watch a recording of the Zoom meeting

Wedensday, March 20 | 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Download staff presentation(PDF, 20MB)

Phase 3 (TBD)

Phase 3 will include revisions to guidelines about infill construction, tandem houses, and additions.

Phase 4 (TBD)

Phase 4 will entail the development of a new chapter on alterations to non-contributing buildings, as well as revisions to all guidelines about commercial and institutional buildings except for site work and signage.