Department of Planning & Development
Department of Planning & Development

SOUTHSIDE  PLAN - PLANNING COMMISSION SUBCOMMITTEE DRAFT

I.  DESIGN GUIDELINES

Strategic Statement 

These design guidelines apply to all projects located within the Southside Plan area.  The design guidelines are organized by subarea; refer to Map DG-1 for the locations of the subareas.  Some of these guidelines refer to townscape entities which are smaller than the major subareas, and the location and character of many of which are described in an accompanying appendix.

Projects subject to these guidelines include all new construction projects, exterior renovations, and remodeling of existing buildings and storefronts, and additions to existing buildings.

Map DG-1: Subarea Locations (PDF 148.66KB) 

Design guidelines for landscaping and for public safety are also included for each subarea.

These guidelines are meant to guide design decisions in the early phases of a project, in order to provide design direction and expedite the development review process.  The intent is not that each project must comply with every guideline for the subarea in which it  is located, but rather that the final design substantially complies with the overall intent of the guidelines for that subarea.

II. Residential Subarea Design Guidelines 

The residential blocks east of Telegraph are predominately made up of larger residential buildings including group living facilities, sororities. or fraternities, interspersed with 2-4 story apartment buildings.  The residential blocks west of Telegraph Avenue contain mostly apartment buildings or houses converted to apartments.

As with much of the Southside, “eclectic, diverse and rich in style and detail” are appropriate words to describe the architectural character of the Residential Subareas.

The design guidelines emphasize the compatibility of new construction with the scale, massing, quality and attention to detailing evident in the older buildings in this subarea, many of which are historically or architecturally significant.

A. General Guidelines 

1.   The developer of a new building should provide street level perspective renderings in context. Provide back and side building views where these facades will be visible from the street.

2.   Developers should recognize, respect, and work with the desirable characteristics of relevant local building clusters or other distinctive small townscape units such as those described in the accompanying appendix.

B. Building Massing and Height 

1.   New buildings should respect and respond to the pattern of residential height and massing of buildings in this subarea.  Residential blocks are typically lined with numerous buildings 25 feet to 40 feet in width, similar in scale, but quite varied in architectural style and design.

2. On sites with more than 50 feet of street frontage, the massing of new buildings should be varied and articulated with setbacks, changes in building mass, or architectural elements in order to modulate the building massing into smaller elements, roughly 30 to 50 feet in width along the street frontage.

C. Setbacks and Parking

1.   New building setbacks should conform with the neighborhood fabric and reflect or complement adjacent buildings.

2.   Locate parking behind buildings, underground, or behind active uses at ground floor facades or landscape elements that screen the view of the parking.

3.   Design and orient parking entries to reduce their dominance on the site and to reduce the impact on the particular façade, yet make them attractive points of entry.

4.   Minimize the number and width of curb cuts needed to access on site parking.

5.   Prohibit parking in the front setback.

 

D.  Building Design and Facades 

The design of new residential buildings should reflect and reinforce the proportions, rhythm, and attention to detailing present in the subarea.
Utilize variety in the articulation of the facade consistent with the architectural character of the historic buildings in the subarea.
The front facades of buildings should have articulations such as bays, insets, or porches related to entrances and windows.
Articulate side and rear facades in a manner compatible with the design of the front facade.  Avoid large blank walls on side and rear facades.
Window and door placement, size, grouping, and shape should be sensitive to the pattern of other buildings in the subarea.  Design windows and doors to relate to the design characteristics of the surrounding buildings, especially when adjacent to historic structures.
Front entrances should be oriented to the sidewalk and street.  Main entrances should be clearly identifiable, inviting, and well-lit after dark.  They should be located to encourage interaction between residents, the adjacent houses, and pedestrians on the sidewalk.
Retain and repair original facades and building elements, whenever possible, on historic buildings and buildings which contribute to the architectural character of the subarea.
Re-install or replicate architectural elements removed from historic buildings or buildings which contribute to the architectural character of the subarea.
Replacement elements on historic buildings should visually complement the original building design.

E.  Roof Shape and Lines

Continue the precedent of varied height, profile, detailing, and roof shape for a new building in the Residential Subareas.
The roof shape or cornice should be articulated in a manner to be compatible with the rooflines in the subarea.  Where there is a prevailing pattern of roof pitch and roof orientation, the roof pitch and orientation of new buildings should complement the design of nearby buildings, particularly the historic ones.

Retain and repair distinctive roof forms, profiles, and cornices.

F.  Materials 

Utilize facade materials that provide a sense of continuity with the existing residential structures such as smooth faced stucco, brick, and wood (predominately shingle or clapboard).

New facade materials should be of high quality and durability.  Building materials and details should be consistent throughout.

Whenever possible, retain and repair existing original materials or materials that are durable and contribute to the character of the existing building.

G. Lighting

Provide lighting at building entrances, at parking facilities, between buildings and the public sidewalk, and in rear and side yards as needed for safety.

Highlight entrances, walkways, and architectural features with building lighting.

Design and locate light fixtures that coordinate with and complement the design of the facade.

Design and position pedestrian and site lighting to prevent glare and evenly light the ground plane or building facades.

H.  Streetscape Design 

With new construction or major rehabilitation or alteration of existing buildings, plant street trees, repair existing sidewalks, and install disabled ramps as needed along the street frontage of the building.

Existing street trees should be retained and protected during construction.

Specimen trees located on-site should be preserved, if feasible.

Setbacks and open spaces around buildings should be landscaped.


Develop varied landscaping to complement the landscape character and plant palette typical of residential buildings in the subarea.
Usable open space provided for residents of new housing should be landscaped in compliance with the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance.

If public open space is provided with new buildings it should be appropriately designed for community interaction, user safety, and long-term maintenance.

III.  Residential Mixed Use Subarea Design Guidelines

The Residential Mixed Use Subarea contains many distinctive and architecturally significant buildings.  This subarea also contains many of the major institutions in the Southside, including University buildings such as the Tang Center and the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, several churches located along Bancroft Way and Dana Street, and social/service institutions such as the Berkeley City Club and the YMCA.  There are also several small office buildings, some apartment buildings and large houses, and numerous sites used as parking lots.

This subarea has many significant buildings and significant uses, but with the mixture of building forms and the gaps created by parking lots, it does not appear or feel as cohesive as the other subareas in the Southside.

The design guidelines for this subarea are intended to ensure that new construction respects the existing architectural context of this subarea and complements the scale and character of the rest of the Southside.  The design should unify the neighborhood and create consistent architectural character within the subarea. New construction can be creative but should complement existing buildings.  Additionally, large underused sites create opportunities for contemporary design that respects  the historical context.

Mixed use ground-floor retail should be encouraged along Bancroft Way in order to create a linkage to Downtown. Streetscape amenities such as street lighting, landscaping, or architectural fixtures are encouraged to further create this linkage.

A.  General Guidelines

The developer of a new building should provide street level perspective renderings in context. Provide back and side building views where these facades will be visible from the street.
Developers should recognize, respect, and work with the desirable characteristics of relevant local building clusters or other distinctive small townscape units such as those described in the accompanying appendix.

B.  Building Massing and Height 

Building heights should not exceed five stories, in conformance with the City’s Zoning Ordinance.
New buildings should reflect and reinforce the height, scale, massing, rhythm, and proportion of buildings in this subarea.
In design development, consider elements such as setbacks or stepbacks in building facades adjacent to the Residential Subareas.
Locate new buildings parallel to the street to reinforce the dominant existing pattern of building placement.
Consider varied rooflines to break up the massing and height of new buildings.
For projects with over 100 feet of street frontage, avoid the appearance of a large building mass in favor of a series of medium-size elements placed next to one another, or incorporate recesses or projections in the facade plane.  Utilize massing, setbacks, articulation, roof form, and materials to create a modulated building mass appropriate in scale to the context of this subarea.

C.  Frontages and Setbacks

Building setbacks should conform  to the existing urban form and should take into consideration the setbacks of adjacent buildings.  The land use policies of this Plan call for a 0-10 foot front yard setback, depending on the context, and a 10-19 foot rear yard setback in this subarea in place of the previously required 15 foot front setback. and rear setback of 15-21 feet.
The front setbacks of adjacent structures should be considered in determining the   front setback of a new building in order to foster compatibility.
Encourage landscaping of setbacks.
If the public sidewalk adjacent to new construction is 6 feet in width or less, a portion of the front yard setback should be paved so that the sidewalk is widened to at least 8 feet to allow for a more generous walking area and to have adequate width to allow street trees to be planted in the sidewalk.  The remaining front setback area should be landscaped.

D.  Parking and Loading Access

Minimize the number of curb cuts required for vehicular access.  On sites with both on-site loading and on-site parking, utilize a single curb cut for both when feasible.
Locate and design driveways and entrances to parking or loading to minimize disruption to pedestrian flow and bicycle circulation.
Locate parking behind buildings, underground, or behind ground floor facades that screen the view of the parking.
Locate and design parking and loading areas to minimize their visibility from public streets.  Use walls and landscaping to screen views of parking and loading areas.
Design and orient entries to parking areas to reduce their dominance on the ground floor facade.
Parking lots should be landscaped and screened in conformance with the Zoning Ordinance.
Remove curb cuts that are no longer in conformance with City standards by restoring the curb.

E. Building Design and Facades

In multi-story buildings taller than three stories, architecturally distinguish the ground floor from the upper facade to form a visual base for the building, and distinguish the upper facade from the top of the building to provide a visual termination.

Create pedestrian interest at the ground floor.

Articulate the street facade of buildings on sites longer than 100 feet so as to reduce the visual mass.

Articulate side and rear facades in a manner compatible with the design of the front  facade.  Avoid large blank wall surfaces on side and rear facades that are visible from public streets.

Utilize variety in articulation and character of the facade that is consistent with the eclectic architectural character of this subarea.

Ensure that upper floors contain design detail as the buildings can be seen from a distance.

Window and door placement, size, grouping, and shape should be sensitive to the scale and pattern of adjacent and nearby buildings. Design windows and doors in new buildings relate to the design characteristics of the surrounding buildings.

The window size and pattern should be in scale and proportion to the building.

Entrances should be a primary element of the street frontage.  Main entrances should be clearly identifiable and inviting.  Design recognizable main entries that create pedestrian scale and architectural interest.

On corner sites, develop entrances or distinctive elements at the corner of new buildings to emphasize the corner location and to provide visual interest.

Minimize the width of parking ingress/egress in order to enhance the streetscape. Garage entrances should be as narrow as feasible and should not dominate the building's street façade.

The character of any rehabilitation should respect the architectural integrity of the original structure.

Retain and repair original facades and building elements, whenever possible, on listed historic buildings and buildings which contribute to the architectural character of this subarea.

Architectural elements removed from listed buildings or buildings which contribute to the architectural character of this subarea should be re-installed or replicated, wherever feasible.

Replacement building elements should visually match the original as closely as possible.

F.  Roof Shape and Lines 

Develop distinctive roof forms, profiles, and cornices.
Continue the precedent of varied height, profile, detailing, and roof shape for new buildings in this subarea.
Consider the location, spacing, and shielding of rooftop mechanical equipment as part of the general roof and building design.
Ensure that solar fixtures are compatible with the building design  when they are installed.
In rehabilitation, retain and repair distinctive roof forms, profiles and cornices.
In rehabilitation or alteration, maintain a roof character that is complementary to  the original building.

G.  Materials

1.   Building materials should draw upon the neighborhood pattern of finish materials and colors that include brick, smooth faced plaster, shingles and clapboard, finished cement, rich earth tone colors, and the incorporation of a variety of contrasting textures.

2.   Select new materials to convey a sense of quality and to ensure durability.  It should be noted that certain design details can be constructed with high quality even with inexpensive construction materials.

3.   Preserve existing unique, and high quality, materials and details.  Restore missing architectural elements when feasible.

H.  Lighting 

Provide lighting at all building entrances, at pedestrian and vehicular entrances to parking facilities, within the parking facility, and between the building and the public sidewalk.
Highlight signs, entrances, walkways, and architectural features with lighting.
Design and locate light fixtures which coordinate with and complement the design of the façade and avoid glare and light spillage to the surrounding area.
Conceal electrical boxes, transformers, utilities, and conduits from view.
Promote natural light on both sides of a building.  Provide sunny, open spaces in the design of the development.

I.  Signs 

For buildings in this subarea that require signage, the sign location should be integrated into the overall design of the building, should be understated, and should convey the primary use, the primary tenant, or the name of the building.

Signs for University buildings shall conform to the Campus Sign Guidelines.

The size of signs and lettering on signs, canopies, or awnings should be in scale and proportion to the space in which they are located.

Signage should be complementary to the design of the building.

J.  Streetscape Design 

1.   Street trees should be incorporated into projects involving new construction or major exterior rehabilitation or alterations.

2.   With new construction, existing sidewalks would be repaired and disabled ramps should be installed as needed along the street frontage of the building, in conformance with City standards.

3.   Automatic irrigation systems should be provided by the property owner for new street trees.

4.   Existing street trees should be retained and protected during construction.

5.   Specimen trees located on-site should be preserved, if feasible.

6.   Setbacks and open spaces around new buildings should be landscaped.  Develop varied and informal landscaping to complement the landscape character and plant palette evident in this subarea.  Planting type, size, and location should be selected with public safety in mind.

7.   Consider using planters, flower baskets, or window boxes to add color to the streetscape.  Locate planters where they do not impede circulation.

8.   Usable open space required for new housing should be landscaped in compliance with the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance

IV. Commercial Subarea Design Guidelines 

The Commercial Subarea is rich in architectural character yet eclectic in style.  Telegraph Avenue contains many distinctive buildings from the early 20th Century which provide a strong architectural character and urban scale for this street, while Bancroft Way and Durant Avenue in this subarea and the “fifth block” of Telegraph Avenue south of Dwight Way contain many buildings from the 1950s to 1970s which are modern and less detailed in style.  The other side streets in this subarea contain primarily smaller buildings and houses converted to commercial uses.

New construction in this subarea need not replicate the older buildings but, through the design, materials, and detailing, should reflect the rich and historic architectural character of the subarea, particularly the Telegraph portion north of Dwight Way.

A. General Guidelines 

The developer of a new building should provide street level perspective renderings in context. Provide back and side building views where these facades will be visible from the street. 
Developers should recognize, respect, and work with the desirable characteristics of relevant local building clusters or other distinctive small townscape units such as those described in the accompanying appendix.

B.  Building Massing and Height

Building heights should respect the general heights in this subarea.  The land use policies of this Plan recommend increasing the maximum height in this subarea from four to five stories, but some  differentiation in building height is desirable to avoid a canyon effect.

New construction should reflect the scale and massing established by the older three to five story buildings in the subarea.

During the design phase of project development, evaluate impacts of proposed buildings exceeding three stories to determine wind corridor and shadow impacts on the public sidewalk.  To mitigate any significant impacts, break up the façade and building mass as appropriate.  At the same time, respect the continuous upper facade of the taller commercial buildings in order to maintain the continuity of urban form.

Maintain a continuous zero front setback at the ground floor except to provide recessed storefront entrances, a special corner feature, or usable open space such as outdoor dining, or to form a mid-block pedestrian passageway.  However, in order to preserve the distinctive character of the portion of Durant Avenue east of Tower Records, it is recommended that buildings there have setbacks.

C.  Building Design and Facades 

The proportions, rhythm, and attention to detailing established by the facades of older historic buildings should be reflected and reinforced in new construction.
Street facades in general and the ground floor level in particular should include elements of pedestrian scale and interest.
For multi-story buildings, architecturally distinguish the floors to form a defined hierarchy of base, middle, and top.  In addition, architecturally distinguish the top of the building to provide a visual termination.
Retain and repair original facades and building elements, and in particular on listed historic buildings and buildings which contribute to the architectural character of this subarea.
Architectural elements removed from listed buildings or buildings which contribute to the architectural character of this subarea should be re-installed or replicated, wherever feasible.
Replacement building elements should visually match the original as closely as possible, and in particular for listed buildings or buildings which contribute to the architectural character of this subarea.

D.  Storefronts

Reflect the traditional storefront rhythm and proportion found throughout the commercial subarea.  Emulate traditional elements such as large display windows of clear glass, bulkheads below the storefront windows and clerestory windows above, recessed front entries, and appropriate locations for signs and awnings.
Ensure that multiple storefronts within the same building are visually compatible in terms of scale, alignment and general storefront design.  While the desire for tenant individuality is understandable, it is most important that the continuity of the building as a whole is not compromised. Variations in signage, awnings, and storefront color may be appropriate, however.
Provide a level of detailing that complements the character of the historic buildings in the subarea.
Clearly distinguish entrances to upper floors from storefront entrances through differentiated architectural treatment and materials.
Windows in the upper facade of new buildings should reflect the pattern and rhythm of older historic buildings in this subarea.
Maintain the typical rhythm of 15-30 foot storefronts at ground level in order to provide continuity with existing buildings and pedestrian scale at the street level. 
Include architectural features such as awnings, canopies, and recessed entries that can protect pedestrians from inclement weather.  Design these features as integral parts of the building. 
Provide a corner entrance, when possible, at corner buildings to improve visibility and pedestrian circulation, and to accentuate the corner.

E. Roof Shape and Lines 

On new buildings there should be some form of articulation or detailing where the roof meets the wall.  Consider incorporating eaves, rakes, or cornices.
On corner sites, the roof or cornice design should emphasize the corner.
Consider the location, spacing and screening of rooftop mechanical equipment as part of the general roof and building design.  Mechanical equipment shall not be visible from streets and sidewalks.
Retain and repair distinctive roof forms, profiles, and cornices.

F.  Materials 

Utilize materials that provide a sense of continuity with the existing area structures, such as brick, smooth faced stucco, finished concrete, tile, and stone.

Use high quality durable materials that convey a sense of permanence, are easily cleaned, and cannot be permanently damaged by graffiti or heavy cleaning.

Preserve existing unique and high quality materials and details.

Retain and repair existing original materials or materials that are durable and contribute to the character of the building, whenever possible.

G.  Signs and Awnings 

Signs and awnings are not permanent elements on the buildings and therefore can be used either to express the nature of the retail use or to reinforce the architectural style of the building.  Either approach is allowed where consistent with the following guidelines:

1.   Signs and awnings should not obscure architectural elements such as clerestory windows or columns, nor should they appear cluttered.

2.   The materials and color of signs should be compatible with the storefront and the building.

3.   The size of signs, awnings, and lettering on signs or awnings should be in scale and proportion to the space in which they are located.

4.   Coordinate the design and alignment of signs and awnings on buildings with multiple storefronts in order to achieve a cohesive appearance to the base of the building.

5.   Signage should be complementary to the design of the building and promote the individual use or storefront.  Corporate signage designs are discouraged.

H.  Lighting

Building lighting should be provided at the ground level to illuminate storefronts, the public sidewalk, and the ground floor entrance to the upper stories of the building for improved security and to encourage nighttime activity in the commercial area.
Consider accent lighting to highlight interesting architectural features, signs, and storefront displays.
Design and locate light fixtures that coordinate with and complement the design of the facade.
Conceal electrical boxes, transformers, utilities, and conduits from view, and position light sources to prevent glare for pedestrians and vehicles.

I.  Security Gates/Grilles 

1.   Security devices and grille work visible from the street should be integrated into the overall building design and should be unobtrusive when the business is open.  Housings for the security grilles should be concealed or integrated into the facade.

2.   Security grilles should be see-through when closed, to provide a view to the interior of the store after hours. Accordion gates are discouraged.

3.   Security grilles should be placed behind or inboard of the plate glass storefront windows, whenever possible, and preferably behind storefront displays to encourage window shopping at night and to reduce the visibility of the grilles.

J.  Streetscape Design

1.   Plant street trees, repair existing sidewalks, and install disabled access ramps as needed along the street frontage of the building in conformance with City standards.

2.   Automatic irrigation systems for new street trees should be provided by the property owner.

3.   New street trees should be installed on Durant Avenue and Bancroft Way, with tree grates and guards to unify new trees with the streetscape character of Telegraph Avenue.

4.   Existing street trees should be retained and protected during construction.

5.  Consider using planters, flower baskets, or window boxes to add color to the streetscape. Locate planters where they do not impede circulation or conflict with designated spaces for street artists.

V. Public Safety Design Guidelines 

The proper design of buildings and site features can significantly improve security for people who live in, work in, and visit the Southside.  Similarly, good design can improve seismic readiness and fire safety, which protects lives and maintains the integrity of the historic structures and features of the Southside.

A. Pedestrian Safety 

Improve safety information and communication through design features such as kiosks containing maps of the area, public transit information, evening escort service information, and emergency telephones.

Improve outreach and information to property owners regarding:
a.   exterior lighting options;

b.   safe door and window locks;

c.   appropriate security cameras, alarms, or other security  devices;

d.   approved window bars and appropriate store security grilles, as a last resort;

e.   appropriate dumpster and trash storage locations, with operable covers to discourage scavenging and vermin;

f.    fencing designs that improve safety and allow visibility;

g.   property upkeep and maintenance related to safety;

h.   landscape design and maintenance to improve safety.

Encourage property owners to locate property addresses in easily visible locations.

B. Building Entrances 

Design the primary building entrances to be fully visible from the street.  Side entrances should also be fully visible from the street, without obstructions, whenever possible.

C. Lighting

Provide exterior lighting at building entrances, on sidewalks and walkways, in parking lots and parking garages, in side and rear yards, and for other transitional spaces to improve safety.

D. Maintenance

Maintain public and private sidewalks to provide an even walking surface.  Repair cracks and uplifts from tree roots and other subsurface instability in a timely manner.

Use graffiti-resistant materials and coatings when possible to make exterior materials easier to clean.

Property owners, business owners, and managers should continue to work with the Telegraph Property Owners Business Improvement District (TPBID) and the City’s Clean Streets program to undertake graffiti removal on a regular basis.

Property owners should provide on-going maintenance and upkeep to their buildings and sites.

P. Seismic Preparedness

Property owners are encouraged to undertake seismic upgrading of their buildings.
Design new retail buildings for seismic strengthening by utilizing methods that allow for large storefront openings such as a moment frame system rather than a shear wall system.
Retrofit historic structures using methods that are concealed and which do not damage the historic character of the exterior or interior.  When this is not feasible, restore or replicate damaged areas and be sensitive to the historic details, spaces, and character of the building.
Refer to “Downtown Design: Seismic Strengthening of Historic Main Street” for information on seismic strengthening for historic buildings.
City-designated landmarks and structures of merit and structures on the State Historic Resources Inventory or National Register should also utilize the Secretary of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines for Rehabilitation when dealing with seismic retrofits.

SOUTHSIDE PLAN - PLANNING COMMISSION SUBCOMMITTEE DRAFT

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