Design Review

Design review is required by Article 15 of the Somerville Zoning Ordinance for any development proposal that requires Site Plan Approval. The public meeting where design review occurs happens prior to the submittal of a development review application and the intent of design review is to provide Applicants with advice and recommendations during the schematic design phase of the design process.

Conceptual Design > Schematic Design > Design Development > Construction Documents

Design Review Meetings

Design review is conducted at a public meeting of the Urban Design Commission. Applicants are required to submit plans and illustrations in advance of the meeting and provide an overview presentation to the Commission at the meeting. Presentations are limited to no more than twenty (20) minutes. Plans and illustrations must be submitted by 4:30PM seven (7) calendar days prior to the meeting date.

Within forty-five (45) days after the meeting, the Commission provides a written recommendation to the Applicant and the Somerville Planning Board concerning the development proposal.

UDC Submittal Requirements

Plans and illustrations must be provided on 11”x17” landscape-oriented pages.

BuildingsCivic SpacesThoroughfares
A concise written narrative describing how the proposed building fits within and contributes to the immediately surrounding built context, the sustainability objectives for the building, and, if applicable, any approach to historic preservationA concise written narrative summarizing the conclusions of the required Civic Space Study and describing how the proposed civic space enhances the existing City open space network, addresses open space needs of the immediate neighborhood, and the anticipated use by the community. The narrative should outline the proposed civic space program(s) and features, sustainability objectives, including urban forestry and ecosystem services benefits, and any applicable approach to historic preservation.TBD
Three (3) viable schematic massing concepts (buildings under 6 stories excluded) illustrated in axon and perspective viewsA larger context plan showing the surrounding neighborhood including neighborhood open spaces, both public and private; significant buildings; major roads; transportation connections; and natural features
Three (3) viable schematic facade design concepts illustrated in elevation, including details of the building baseA site analysis that considers environmental conditions including, but not limited to, solar aspect (including changes that any building would create), drainage, existing vegetation, topography, noise, screening, etc.
Any additional diagrams illustrating proposed satisfaction of the design guidelines applicable to the development proposalAn explanation of the design processes and design decisions the team has gone through, including design concepts/options that were considered before the arrival of the schematic design
Illustrative landscape plans that identify the design intent, location and layout of planting, paving, and other landscape materials and furnishings. Plan must include lot lines, frontage area, setbacks, easements applicable to site and be shown at an appropriate scale (1”=10’ recommended.)
Illustrative sections or perspectives to help visualize the proposed Civic Space
Illustrated or visual site furnishing list including signage, lighting, site furnishings, pavement types, and other special site features
Any additional diagrams illustrating the satisfaction of the design guidelines applicable to the development proposal

Design Recommendations

The Commission will review the plans and illustrations submitted prior to the meeting. Following the presentation by the Applicant at the meeting, the Commission will:

BuildingsCivic SpacesThoroughfares
Identify design guidelines from the Somerville Zoning Ordinance (SZO) that are a priority for the proposed buildingIdentify design guidelines from the Somerville Zoning Ordinance (SZO) that are a priority for the proposed civic space
Identify a preferred schematic design from options presented by the Applicant that is recommended for advancement through design development Provide advice and recommendations on the proposed schematic design to inform advancement through design development and address achievement of the Public Space & Urban Forestry Division's goals for public space in Somerville
Provide advice and recommendations concerning the satisfaction of design standards and guidelines from the Somerville Zoning Ordinance for the proposed buildingProvide advice and recommendations concerning the satisfaction of design standards and guidelines from the Somerville Zoning Ordinance for the proposed civic space
Identify any outstanding concerns and provide advice and recommendations on how the proposed building affects the quality of Somerville’s public realmIdentify any outstanding concerns and provide advice and recommendations on how the proposed civic space affects the quality of Somerville’s public realm

The Urban Design Commission

The Urban Design Commission (UDC) consists of designated and appointed members from the professional design community of Somerville. 

CURRENT MEMBERS:

Sarah Lewis, Co-Chair, Director of P&Z, RA, LEED AP, CNUa
Luisa Oliveira, Co-Chair,  Director of PSUF, ASLA
Frank Valdez, AIA, LEED AP
Deborah Fennick, AIA, LEED AP 
Andrew Arbaugh, PLA, ASLA

View the UDC’s current adopted Rules of Procedure & Policy HERE.

Meeting Minutes & Materials

05-26-2020 EDGE Assembly Submittal
05-26-2020 EDGE Assembly Presentation 
05-26-2020 Meeting Minutes
06-16-2020 EDGE Assembly Submittal
06-16-2020 EDGE Assembly Presentation 
06-16-2020 Meeting Minutes

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