Downtown Design Guide

The Downtown Design Guide: DESIGN for a LIVABLE DOWNTOWN is an interdepartmental project among Department of City Planning, Community Redevelopment Agency, Department of Transportation and Public Works. Together with urban design, transportation and environmental consultants, the Urban Design Studio and City Team is advancing new context-sensitive street standards which emphasize walkability, sustainability and transit options; and simple but critical urban design standards to reinforce the community character of Downtown Los Angeles' many neighborhoods and Districts.

The purpose of the Design Guidelines is to coordinate and orchestrate the overall development of the city core, so that projects help each other succeed and result in a better, livable downtown. The Design Guide, "DESIGN for a LIVABLE DOWNTOWN", are intended to provide guidance for creating a livable Downtown and will be used jointly by the Planning Department and Redevelopment Agency staff; and the Departments of Transportation and Public Works.

Table of Contents

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Chapter 1: Introduction and Overview

  • Areas to which the design guide applies/ Relationship to other regulations
  • Application of Design guide to projects/ Definition of projects
  • How to use the design guide
  • Review Process
  • Amendments to the design guide
  • Design principles for creating a livable downtown
  • Encouraging creativity and innovation

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Chapter 2: Sustainable Design

  • Neighborhood design
  • Street and alley design
  • Site and landscape design
  • Building Design

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Chapter 3: Sidewalks and Setbacks

A Sidewalks

  • Design sidewalks that are walkable and accommodate a variety of uses
  • Design sidewalks to accommodate and support large street trees and to collect stormwater, providing continuous parkways where feasible
  • Where it is not feasible to plant street trees in continuous landscaped parkways, provide large street wells with gap-graded soil beneath the sidewalk
  • Install and maintain streetscape improvements on all streets adjacent to a project

B Setbacks

  • Provide setbacks appropriate to the adjacent land use and district

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Chapter 4: Groundfloor Treatment

  • Ground floor treatment along retail streets
  • Ground floor treatment along other streets
  • Ground floor treatment along all streets

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Chapter 5: Parking and Access

  • All parking and access
  • Stand-alone parking structures
  • Alleys and building walls facing alleys

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Chapter 6: Massing and Street Wall

  • Massing
  • Street wall
  • Spacing
  • Towers

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Chapter 7: On-Site Open Space

  • Provide publicly accessible open spaces at street level that provide pedestrian linkages throughout Downtown.
  • Provide adequate open space to serve residents
  • Establish a clear hierarchy of common open spaces distinguished by design and function to create an connected pedestrian realm conducive to both active and passive uses
  • Incorporate amenities that facilitate outdoor activities such as standing, sitting, strolling, conversing, window-shopping and dining, including seating for comfort and landscaping for shade and aesthetics
  • Use landscape elements to provide shade and other functional and aesthetic objectives
  • Design open space areas so as to lend them the character of outdoor rooms contained by buildings

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Chapter 8: Architectural Detail

  • Horizontal variation
  • Vertical variation
  • Materials
  • Windows and doors
  • Glazing
  • Lighting
  • Security grills and roll-down doors and windows
  • Minimizing impacts on neighbors

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Chapter 9: Streetscape Improvements

  • Responsibilities of the City and other public agencies
  • Responsibilities of the Developer or Lead public agency
  • Sidewalk improvement where future roadway widening may occur
  • Curb extensions and crosswalks
  • Paving pattern
  • Street trees
  • Street lights
  • Streetscape project approval and permits

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Chapter 10: Signage

  • Master sign plan
  • Signage guidelines by type
  • Signage guidelines for all sign types

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Chapter 11: Public Art

  • Goals
  • General Guidelines

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Chapter 12: Civic and Cultural Life

  • Goals
  • Guideline