Design Reviews

Learn more about when you need to apply for design review. Get all required forms for a design review like the application for land use reviews, the early assistance application and the Certificate of Compliance. Learn more about design review requirements and approval criteria.
On this page

Design review implements the Design overlay zone, strengthening these areas as places designed for people. Design review supports development that builds on context, contributes to the public realm, and provides high quality and resilient buildings and public spaces. Design Review offers opportunities for increased flexibility over the design standards within Chapter 33.420.

Design review is required for certain development proposals for development located within the Design Overlay Zone. The Design Overlay Zone is shown on the Official Zoning Maps with a letter ’d’ map symbol. For some proposals, the applicant may choose to meet the objective standards in Section 33.420.050 of Chapter 33.420 instead of going through the Design Review process set out in Chapter 33.825, Design Review. The thresholds and process for using the objective standards can be found at the Design Standards webpage.

As part of the design review application, a modification or adjustment may be required if the proposal does not meet certain development standards.

  • Design modifications may be requested as part of the design review for standards that are not met.
  • Adjustment reviews may be requested concurrent with the design review for use-related standards that are not met (such as floor area rations, intensity of use, size of the use, number of uses, or concentration of uses).

Please contact Planning and Zoning for more information about applying for a design review. 

Design review procedure

Design Reviews are processed through a Type I, Type II, or Type III procedure. For review thresholds, see Portland Zoning Code Section 33.825.025. A Pre-application conference is required prior to submittal of all Type III reviews. A Design Advice Request is an optional request for feedback from the Design Commission prior to submittal of a Design Review.  In a few instances it is required prior to submittal of a Design or other Land Use Review. An optional Early Assistance Appointment may also be requested for less complex projects not requiring a pre-application conference.

Design review approval criteria 

Applicable approval criteria depends on the location of the project site within the ‘d’ overlay zone.

  • The approval criteria for sites within designated design districts are the design guidelines adopted for that area. View the maps at the end of Chapter 33.420 to see if the site is located within a design district. View the adopted design guidelines.
  • The approval criteria for sites not within designated design districts are the Portland Citywide Design Guidelines.

Design review applications and forms 

Visit Land Use and Final Plat Applications for instructions on how to apply for a Land Use Review.

Complete this application form to apply:

Use this list to identify submittal requirements:

A pre-application conference is required for all Type III Land Use Reviews:

Sign this form within 21 days of application date to allow submittal of new information if a Type III decision is appealed:

More information about design reviews

Address applicable Design Guidelines with your design review application- Design and historic review guidelines

Submit with building permit plans to certify the plans are consistent with the Design Review or Historic Review approval:

Design review fees 

Review the Land Use Services Fees Schedule.

Still need help?

If you have questions after reviewing the information on this page, please schedule a free 15-minute appointment with a city planner or set up an Early Assistance meeting for a deeper discussion.