What are the Urban Design Guidelines (UDG)?
Used by the design commission to review projects, The Urban Design Guidelines are a series of design principles for buildings, streetscapes and public open spaces, with the aim of cultivating design excellence in private and public development. They were created to guide developments so that they exemplify our community ideals and contribute to the enhancement of the public realm throughout the city. Urban design guidelines differ from building and land use planning codes in that they are voluntary. Currently, only projects that opt for the Downtown Density Bonus Program are required to substantially comply with the guidelines.
Why do we have them / Why are they important?
The Urban Design Guidelines are important because they are a tool to direct private development so that in exchange for increased land rights, applicants create projects that better reflect the shared values and collective identity of the city. , creating a benefit for the community. This is important because community ideals are not addressed in the codes. The guidelines encourage high quality design and enhancements to the public realm. In this way, they are a valuable resource for design teams to improve their projects.
What do we want to achieve?
The proposed update to the Guidelines includes four main priorities. The first will focus on broader applicability throughout Austin’s urban core and, therefore, the ability to serve a wider range of users and project types.
Second, the update will better align the guidelines with current community objectives; including, but not limited to, municipal policies adopted with respect to affordability, connectivity, equity, environment, access to open spaces, mobility, sustainability and resilience.
This update will also seek to bring more clarity to the guidelines by creating a more inviting and user-friendly document where all Austinites can seek information, while resulting in a more predictable review process. In order to effectively reach a wider audience and have more clarity, the guidelines need to evolve into a predictable resource for everyone. To achieve this, an easy-to-use document is needed with a simple graphic format (including illustrations and photos) to visually communicate desired (and undesired) results. Having guidelines accessible to all users includes presenting them in a web format.
Finally, this update will address the differences between public and private development by including specific design guidelines for city projects, including infrastructure projects.
To be involved
This call is for community members to participate in the Urban Design Guidelines review process by registering to become an advisory group member and/or community ambassador.
Candidates will be chosen based on several criteria, including: professional expertise, lived experience and diversity (gender, ethnicity, age, municipal district). Meetings will be in person. The Design Commission Working Group is committed to ensuring that access to technology is not a barrier to participation.
To apply as an advisory group member and/or community ambassador, please use the online forms below. Call (512) 974-3146 to request a paper application. You can sign up to be both an advisory group member and a community ambassador.