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DOZA proposed tools

Additional information about the revised Design Standards and Portland Citywide Design Guidelines in the DOZA Recommended Draft.

The Design Overlay Zone Assessment’s recommendations guided the development of the Design Standards (in Volume 2) and Portland Citywide Design Guidelines (in Volume 3):

The three design-related core values, or “tenets,” are rooted in current guidelines and were identified by the Design Commission as: context, public realm, and quality and resilience. These three tenets of design are used to simplify, consolidate, and revise the tools — the design guidelines and standards.

Chart showing how the design standards and the Portland citywide design guidelines originate from the three tenents - context, public realm, and quality and resilience.

Context: The design guidelines and standards for Context encourage development to respond to the surrounding natural and built environment and build on the opportunities provided by the site itself. The context standards are split into the following categories: Building Massing and Corners, Older Buildings/History, Landscaping, and Adjacent Natural Areas.

Public Realm: The design guidelines and standards for Public Realm encourage development to contribute positively to the adjoining sidewalks, streets and trails. They encourage spaces on the ground floor that support a range of uses and create environments that offer people a welcoming and comfortable experience. The public realm standards are split into the following categories: Ground Floors, Entries/Entry Plazas, Weather Protection, Utilities, Vehicle Areas, and Art and Special Features

Quality and Resilience: The design guidelines and standards for Quality and Resilience encourage buildings that can adapt to future changes. They also promote successful site designs that enhance the livability of people who live, work or visit the site. The quality and resilience standards are split into the following categories: Site Planning and Pedestrian Circulation, On-site Common Areas, Windows and Balconies, Building Materials, and Rooftops.

The proposed citywide design guidelines and design standards both originate from the three tenets.

The Assessment report concludes that “using the same design purpose and intent, the design standards should use quantitative criteria and the design guidelines should use qualitative criteria to encourage the best possible result.”

The Portland Citywide Design Guidelines document provides nine guidelines that better align with the aspirations of the 2035 Comprehensive Plan and reflect community feedback. They include themes such as:

  • Acknowledging past harms and promoting an inclusive, anti-racist built environment (Background).
  • Designing for a future found in the Urban Design Framework (DG 01).
  • Supporting thoughtful site design (DG 07).
  • Designing for resilience and adaptability (DG 09).
Bar chart showing required and optional points. View PDF containing data below image.
The number of required standards and availability of optional points achieves a reasonable balance across the three tenets.

The Design Standards:

  • Provide optional ways of meeting the standards to offer flexibility. This menu approach offers more choices to the standards, bringing more flexibility, while maintaining certainty.

    The Design Standards consist of required standards and optional standards. The required standards will apply to all development in the design overlay that choose to go through the design plan check.  They are fewer in number and are the highest priority for new development. The optional standards, on the other hand, offer an applicant a choice of development features that best suit their project. The optional standards achieved must meet a required amount of points, 1 point per every 1000 square foot of site area.

    The numbers in the graphic refer to the number of standards per each tenet in the Design Standards.  For the optional standards, the number of points available is also given.

    View PDF version of the Proposed Design Standards chart:
  • Allow for context-responsiveness. It is often cited as difficult for design standards to truly respond to context when they are intended to be clear and objective, rather than discretionary. Not only do the standards in this proposal offer context-related regulations, the flexibility offered with a menu approach allows the applicant to respond to the context of each development site by choosing which optional standards to meet.
  • Encourage better site design and consideration of the user’s experience. By focusing the standards on how a building and site are designed for people rather than focusing regulations on the building as an object, these standards reflect the most current thinking in design and respond to the goals and aspirations of the 2035 Comprehensive Plan.