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Landmark Design Guidelines

Photo of Emerson School, a landmark property

Landmark Preservation reviews the designs of proposed exterior alterations, additions to buildings, new construction, signs, and non-vegetative site work for properties located within the boundaries of an historic district or for a property designated a Denver landmark.  Design review ensures that a proposed project preserves key historic features and is compatible with the character of designated historic buildings, sites and districts.

The Landmark Preservation Commission, the Lower Downtown Design Review Commission, and Landmark Preservation staff use design guidelines and the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for the treatment of historic properties to guide design review. Additional guidelines may apply for projects located in specific historic districts.  

Complete citywide guidelines document:
Chapter-by-chapter listing of citywide design guidelines:

1 – Introduction (PDF): An overall introduction to the design review process and guide to using the design guidelines. 

2 – Preserving Historic Buildings (PDF): Guidelines for projects that involve alterations or updates to and adaptive reuse of landmark structures and contributing structures in historic districts. 

3 – Additions to Historic Buildings (PDF): Guidelines for projects that intend to add livable space to landmark structures and contributing structures in historic districts. 

4 – New or Non-contributing Structures (PDF): Guidelines for new infill construction and alterations/additions to non-contributing structures in historic districts. 

5 – Site and Landscape Design (PDF): Guidelines for site design, parking and treatment of historic landscape features. 

6 – Signs (PDF): Guidelines for sign design on landmark structures and properties in historic districts. 

Appendix A (PDF): Character Defining Features: Summaries of the neighborhood-specific character defining features of Denver’s historic districts. 

Character defining features:

Appendix B (PDF): Historic Context & Architectural Styles  

Appendix C (PDF): Glossary of terms

The guidelines were last updated January 27, 2016. 

Design Review Application

The Design Review page provides more detailed information about the Landmark design review process.  Once a design review application is received, Landmark Preservation staff will evaluate applications for completeness within five business days, and let you know whether the project will entail an administrative or commission review process. 

Pre-Application Review

A pre-application meeting with Landmark Preservation staff is required for projects involving infill construction, second-floor (pop-top) and rooftop additions, additions over 900 square feet or which add more than 40% of above grade construction square footage to an existing structure, accessory dwelling unit (ADU) construction, zone-lot amendments, historic window replacement, demolitions of Denver landmarks or structures in a historic district, or comprehensive sign plans. Complete the web pre-application review request form and upload photos and preliminary information about your project. If you prefer to email your application, email the pre-application review form (PDF) and all required information to Landmark Preservation staff.

Second-floor (pop-top) and rooftop additions, additions over 900 square feet or which add more than 40% above grade square footage to an existing structure requires a pre-application review and meeting with Landmark Preservation staff.  Following the pre-application meeting, applicants may submit an application and required submittal materials.

 

 

All other types of additions do not require a pre-application review and meeting with Landmark Preservation staff.  Applicants may submit an application and required submittal materials:

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) require a pre-application review and meeting with Landmark Preservation staff.  Following the pre-application meeting, applicants may submit an application and required submittal materials.


For all other accessory structures, including new one-story garages and small accessory structures, applicants may submit all required submittal materials to Landmark Preservation staff.


Following the pre-application review and meeting with Landmark Preservation staff, applicants may submit an application and required submittal materials. 

For minor work requiring quick permits but introducing little to no visible change to a historic structure or property, submit the Landmark Quick Review application form (PDF) to Landmark Staff.  

For all other work on Landmark structures or buildings in historic districts, applicants may submit the application form and required submittal materials.  Landmark Preservation staff is available to answer questions during counter hours, by phone or email, or by appointment. 

To apply for signage in a historic district or on a Landmark structure or property, applicants may submit the completed sign application form and checklist, and all required photographs, drawings and related materials as noted in the sign checklist to Landmark Preservation staff. 

Visit the Demolition and Certificate of Non-Historic Status Review page for the demolition application, checklist and review procedure.

Submit Your Application

Complete the required application and submit it, along with any supporting materials, by email to landmark@denvergov.org.  Your submission should include two attachments:

  • PDF with the completed form ("yourname-app.pdf") 
  • PDF that combines all supporting materials ("yourname-app-materials.pdf")

File size should not exceed more than 25 MB combined. Contact us if you are having trouble with your electronic submission.

Every project is different. Depending upon the complexity and specifics of your project, 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.

NOTE: All materials submitted with your application become the property the City and County of Denver. The materials are part of public record, can be used in a public hearing, and cannot be returned.

If you use assistive technology and would like to access the content in documents in PDF format on this page, please contact landmark@denvergov.org.


Landmark Inspections 

How to schedule a final inspection or Certificate of Occupancy (CO) inspection for Landmark:

  • Visit e-permits and click "Enter E-Permits"
    • New users will need to create an account 
  • In e-permits, click the “Development Services” tab and then either: 
    • Select the permit record from your “My Records” list (which will populate after your contractor’s license has been added to your e-permits account) OR
    • Search for the permit. Type the permit number in the Record Number box and hit search.
  • Once on the correct permit page, go to "Record Info" > "Inspections"
  • Click “Schedule or Request an Inspection” 
  • Select "Zoning CO" to schedule either a final inspection, or a final CO inspection

What to expect from your Landmark inspection:

  • The Landmark inspector will check to see if the work complies with the Denver Zoning Code, the Landmark Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) and the approved set of Landmark plans. 
    • NOTE: Any changes made after your plans have been approved  must be submitted for review and approval again. Changes made without Landmark approval will cause your inspection to be denied.

Landmark inspection tips:

  • Do not make any changes to design, dimensions, and/or materials (including trim work, windows, doors, etc.) without Landmark approval
  • Do not remove, replace, or infill any doors or windows that were not previously approved by Landmark
  • Do not have any missing or dead landscaping (if required by zoning)
  • Do not install materials that are not allowed in historic districts or on individual landmark sites. Such materials include compressed artificial wood, T-111 siding, skim-coat or two-coat stucco systems, siding or trim with faux-wood grain, and vinyl windows.
  • Make sure all work complies with the Denver Zoning Code 
  • Make sure to obtain all required Landmark approvals, as well as building and/or zoning permits 
  • Make sure the approved plans show:
    • The locations of any exterior building penetrations 
    • New AC units, fences, or site work that may require a zoning permit (e.g. planter boxes over 12” in height) 
    • Exterior lighting
    • Installation of a new or replacement fence
    • Any hardscaping and site work

NOTE: Some work requires a building and/or zoning permit when the building is located in a historic district or has been designated as an individual landmark site. See Denver Building Code Section 130.3 Exempted Work (exceptions for 2, 5 and 23):

  • Fences of any height
  • Retaining walls of any height
  • Window replacements
 
Plan Extra Time!

Complex projects and unplanned events can delay the approval process.  Plan extra time to get your Certificate of Appropriateness.

Design Review

View the steps required to submit your project for a design review.

Contact Us

Landmark Preservation Office:
720-865-2709
landmark@denvergov.org