Citywide Design Guidelines Update

Project Outcomes

In 2008, we began to update the 15-year-old citywide design guidelines. We drafted changes in collaboration with architecture and urban design consultant Weinstein Architects and Urban Planners. On December 16, 2013, the City Council approved revised Seattle Design Guidelines and 18 sets of revised neighborhood-specific design guidelines. The revised guidelines:

  • Bring the original citywide design guidelines forward to the present day, incorporating lessons learned from the development of neighborhood-specific guidelines and almost 17 years of projects reviewed under the Seattle Design Review Program
  • Update the format and clarify language in the neighborhood specific design guidelines to make it easier to seamlessly apply both sets of guidelines — citywide and neighborhood — to evaluate future development projects
  • Maximize the effectiveness of the guidelines as a tool in encouraging better design while keeping the guidelines clear and easy to use by applicants, Board members, and the public
  • Incorporate current best practices in design guidelines and address issues not contemplated during the drafting of the original design guidelines in 1993

For more information please see the Design Review Program website.

Key Milestones

  • September 2008
    Phase 1 report published
  • February – May 2008
    Start of stakeholder outreach (continues through-out)
  • May 22, 2008
    Public meeting
  • January 2010
    1st draft available for public review
  • March 2011
    2nd draft published
  • October 2012
    Mayor’s recommendations sent to Council
  • February 13, 2013
    Council’s briefing at the Planning Land Use and Sustainability Committee
  • April 29, 2013
    Public hearing
    City Council directed DPD to make revisions and post final drafts for community review
  • November 2013
    Post revised guidelines
  • December 16, 2013
    City Council approval

Project Purpose

The Citywide Design Guidelines have been the cornerstone of the Design Review Program since 1994. Our updated guidelines are easier to use to evaluate development projects.