Design review is required by Article 15 of the Somerville Zoning Ordinance for any application for development review and the intent of design review is to provide Applicants with advice and recommendations during the schematic design phase of the design process.proposal that requires Site Plan Approval. The public meeting where design review occurs happens prior to the submittal of a
Conceptual Design > Schematic Design > Design Development > Construction Documents
Design Review Meetings
Design review is conducted at a public meeting of the Urban Design Commission. Generally, meetings are scheduled for the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month. 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.
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 via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
UDC Submittal RequirementsPlans and illustrations must be provided on 11”x17” landscape-oriented pages.
|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 preservation||A 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.||A concise written narrative identifying the design guidelines and street type referenced from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) for the proposed design. The narrative should outline the proposed thoroughfare character and features; targeted bikeway level of comfort (if applicable); accessibility objectives; sustainability objectives, including stormwater and urban forestry; and any applicable approach to historic design character.|
|Three (3) viable schematic massing concepts (buildings 6 stories or less are excluded) illustrated in axon and perspective views||A larger context plan showing the surrounding neighborhood including neighborhood open spaces, both public and private; significant buildings; major roads; transportation connections; and natural features||An illustrative plan view of the full thoroughfare extents with labeled features, including the location and layout of paving, street trees and other landscape materials, and street furnishings.|
|Three (3) viable schematic facade design concepts illustrated in elevation, including details of the building base. Development limited to only modifications of an existing may submit only one (1) schematic façade design concept for the building||A 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.||One (1) or more illustrative section views for the entire width of the thoroughfare, including the immediate abutting lot and the thoroughfare's sidewalks and roadway with labeled widths.|
|Any additional diagrams illustrating proposed satisfaction of the design guidelines applicable to the development proposal||An 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||One (1) or more illustrative section views, including the frontage, walkway, furnishing, and edge zones with labeled widths, and one (1) or more illustrative perspective views for any sidewalk, including the interface with abutting building frontage.|
|Development subject to any previously approved PUD of the former ASMD zoning district must provide the following:|
1. Conceptual landscape plans and pedestrian perspectives for any public realm (sidewalk) improvements, frontage area landscaping, and publicly accessible on-site open space
2. Axonometric and perspective massing diagrams.
3. Architectural elevations, including details of the building base
|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.)||One (1) or more illustrative section views for any bikeway infrastructure with labels widths.|
|Illustrative sections or perspectives to help visualize the proposed Civic Space||Illustrated or photo realistic pavement material, furnishing (lighting, seating, etc), and planting lists.|
|Illustrated or visual site furnishing list including signage, lighting, site furnishings, pavement types, and other special site features||Typical details for street trees, lighting, seating, paving.|
|Any additional diagrams illustrating the satisfaction of the design guidelines applicable to the development proposal||Illustrative drawings or renderings depicting the character of the thoroughfare in the day, in the evening, and during special events.|
Design RecommendationsThe Commission will review the plans and illustrations submitted prior to the meeting. Following the presentation by the Applicant at the meeting, the Commission will:
|Identify design guidelines from the Somerville Zoning Ordinance (SZO) that are a priority for the proposed building||Identify 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 to inform advancement of the proposed schematic design through design development and address achievement of the Public Space & Urban Forestry Division's goals for public space design and planning||Provide advice and recommendations to inform advancement of the proposed schematic design through design development and to address achievement of the Mobility Division's goals for thoroughfare design and street network planning|
|Provide advice and recommendations concerning the satisfaction of design standards and guidelines from the Somerville Zoning Ordinance||Provide advice and recommendations concerning the satisfaction of design standards and guidelines from the Somerville Zoning Ordinance||Provide advice and recommendations concerning the satisfaction of NACTO design standards and guidelines|
|Identify any outstanding concerns and provide advice and recommendations on how the proposed building affects the quality of Somerville’s public realm||Identify any outstanding concerns and provide advice and recommendations on how the proposed civic space affects the quality of Somerville’s public realm||Identify any outstanding concerns and provide advice and recommendations on how the proposed Thoroughfare 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.
Sarah Lewis, Co-Chair, Director of P&Z, RA, LEED AP, CNUa
Luisa Oliveira, Co-Chair, Director of PSUF, ASLA
Frank Valdes, AIA, LEED AP
Deborah Fennick, AIA, LEED AP
Andrew Arbaugh, PLA, ASLA
Tim Talun, AIA
View the UDC’s current adopted Rules of Procedure & Policy HERE.