Design Review – Does it improve the quality of the built environment?

small town urbanism

This post is a follow-up to an earlier post about the design review process. The earlier post looked at the design review process which resulted in lowering the quality of a proposed project in Sebastopol. I’ve recently been working on a project that is currently going through the design review process. And given my recent experience, I question the effectiveness of the architectural design review process in improving the quality of architecture.

I’m not sure how widespread the practice is, but all of the jurisdictions I have practiced in have some form of architectural review as part of the project entitlement process. Single-family homes are typically exempted, but most other projects have a review process before an appointed board and any community members that wish to weigh in with an opinion. The composition of the boards vary, and most have some requirement to have at least one architect as part…

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