Design 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. Follow the steps below to complete the historic design review process.
Click on the project type below to obtain more information about the Landmark design review process.
A pre-application review and meeting with Landmark Preservation staff is required for all projects involving infill construction for primary structures. All infill projects require review by Landmark Preservation Commission or the Lower Downtown Design Review Board through a two-step process. To review applicable design guidelines and apply for a pre-application review go to Design Guidelines and Application Materials.
Small additions without visibility from public streets:
A rear addition that is under 900 square feet or adds less than 40% square footage to existing above grade square footage may be approved administratively by Landmark Preservation staff if the addition clearly meets the design guidelines, does not trigger demolition review (see the Demolition and Certificate of Non-historic Status Review page), and is not visible from the public street (not including the public alley). To apply for a small addition without visibility from public streets, follow the Design Review Process below beginning at Step 2.
Large additions that do not meet the criteria above are subject to review by the Landmark Preservation Commission or Lower Downtown Design Review Board. This includes but is not limited to additions visible from public streets, such as rooftop additions, building additions on corner lots, and two-story additions. A pre-application review and meeting with Landmark Preservation staff is required for all large or visible additions. To apply for a pre-application review go to Design Guidelines and Application Materials.
New one-story garages and small accessory structures may be approved administratively by Landmark Preservation staff if the proposed construction clearly meets the
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) require a pre-application review and meeting with Landmark Preservation staff. All ADUs require review by the Landmark Preservation Commission. To review applicable design guidelines and apply for a pre-application review go to Design Guidelines and Application Materials.
Applications for zone lot amendments require a pre-application review and meeting with Landmark Preservation staff. Zone lot amendments also require review by the Landmark Preservation Commission to determine whether the zone lot combination or split adversely affects the character or integrity of the historic district, Denver landmark, or any contributing or designated structure in the area.
Zone lots are the land designated as the building site for a structure; also, the land area occupied by a use or a structure. Zone lots provide a boundary for a defined area of land to which the Denver Zoning Code’s regulations for land uses and structures apply. Prior to new development, Denver Zoning staff must confirm that a legal zone lot exists that meets zoning requirements in terms of size, dimensions, street frontage, etc.
The Landmark Preservation Commission and Lower Downtown Design Review Board strongly encourage the retention of historic windows.
The replacement of historic windows requires a pre-application review and meeting with Landmark Preservation staff. To review applicable design guidelines and apply for a pre-application review go to Design Guidelines and Application Materials.
Some alterations can be administratively reviewed and approved by Landmark Preservation staff. Other alterations will require review by the Landmark Preservation Commission or Lower Downtown Design Review Board. All projects are required to conform to applicable design standards and guidelines.
Minor work requiring permits but introducing little to no visible change to a historic structure or property may be subject to the Landmark Quick Review and Approval Process. Applicants may submit the quick review application form to Landmark Preservation staff during counter hours or may email the application to Landmark Preservation (see Contact Us at right). Quick review applications are typically processed within one business day of receipt by Landmark Preservation staff.
Quick review approvals may be issued by Landmark Preservation staff for like-for-like replacement of the following existing exterior features providing that the applicable design guidelines and standards are met:
Alterations to a Façade that is Not Visible:
Alterations that are not visible from the public street (not including a public alley) may be approved administratively by Landmark Preservation staff if the alterations do not impact the form of the structure, do not impact significant architectural details, and clearly meet the design guidelines. The type of alterations that may be administratively approved may include window and door replacements or changes to a few window and door openings, new or altered porches, new decks and balconies, new awnings and canopies, new rear dormers, alterations and additions to garages and secondary structures, and site changes. To apply for Landmark Preservation design review for non-visible alterations, visit the Design Guidelines and Application Materials page, and go to the General Design Review tab.
Alterations to a Façade that is Visible:
Alterations that are visible from a public street (not a public alley) require review by the Landmark Preservation Commission or Lower Downtown Design Review Board. To apply for Landmark Preservation design review, visit the Design Guidelines and Application Materials page, and go to the General Design Review tab.
Landmark Preservation reviews applications for signage on all buildings in historic districts and all Denver landmarks, including comprehensive sign plans. Applications are reviewed for consistency with the appropriate design standards and guidelines.
For more information about the demolition review process, go to Demolition and Certificate of Non-Historic Status Review.
A summary flow chart of the design review process (PDF) is available here.
A pre-application meeting with Landmark Preservation staff is required for projects involving infill construction, second-floor (pop-top) and rooftop additions, rear additions over 900 square feet or which add more than 40% square footage to existing above grade square footage, whichever is less, Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) construction, zone-lot amendments, historic window replacement, demolitions of Denver landmarks or structures in an historic district, or comprehensive sign plans. If your project is not one of these types, proceed to step 2. To apply for pre-application review, visit the Design Guidelines and Application Materials page.
All other project types may skip the pre-application review process unless Landmark Preservation staff has indicated that a pre-application review is required. Submit the appropriate application form found on the Design Guidelines and Application Materials page, and all relevant drawings and photos to Landmark Preservation staff at the Records counter or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Landmark Preservation staff will review the submitted application materials in five business days and will contact you if further documentation is required to complete the design review.
Landmark staff review applications for completeness and compliance with the design guidelines:
Applicants are encouraged to communicate early with neighbors and Registered Neighborhood Organizations about proposed projects to receive input and to help ensure that projects are compatible with the character-defining features of historic districts. Although the Landmark Preservation Commission and its staff make all historic design review decisions, the commission values neighborhood input in the design review process.
Projects involving infill construction, accessory dwelling units, and rooftop additions may require coordination with Registered Neighborhood Organizations. This coordination occurs early in the design review process, prior to a Landmark Preservation Commission submittal, to provide early opportunities for dialogue on a proposed design.
For more information, download the Registered Neighborhood Organization policy (PDF).
Anyone may submit comments on a design review case scheduled for action by the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission following the LPC Public Comment Policy.
RNOs may be pre-qualified by Landmark Preservation staff to participate in the design review process for infill construction, accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and Rooftop additions. Qualified RNOs have the opportunity to meet with applicants and provide input on a project prior to a formal applicant submittal to the Landmark Preservation Commission. For more information, download the Registered Neighborhood Organization Policy.
Determine your project type then view the application materials page to download the guidelines and application/checklists for submitting an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness.
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.