The Chicago Plan Commission has adopted the Neighborhood Design Guidelines, a planning document charged with providing specific recommendations to guide development along neighborhood commercial corridors. Planned to be used by designers and developers, the guidelines will be part of the required evaluation process for projects that require DPD’s review, including Planned Developments, Lakefront Protection projects, and recipients of City assistance. 

As part of DPD’s effort to instill Design Excellence principles into projects around the city. The plan presents five thematic principles to guide and define design excellence:

  1. Equity and Inclusion
  2. Innovation
  3. Sense of Place
  4. Sustainability
  5. Communication

The principles seek to achieve fair treatment, targeted support, and prosperity for all residents, while fostering and implementing creative approaches to design and problem solving. To create a sense of place, designs should celebrate and strengthen the culture of communities, while also fostering design appreciation and responding to community needs through communication. Considering sustainability, the principles encourage a commitment to environmental, cultural, and financial longevity. 

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The document contains six categories of guidelines. These include sustainability, program, site design, public realm, massing, and facade. The plan will not impose architectural styles and does not apply to open space and streetscape projects. It will not override existing guidelines and ordinances in place.

The department began on the endeavor of writing the guidelines back in 2019 with a working group, The guiding principles were developed in 2020 with a draft document released in 2021. Envisioned as a living document, DPD will continue to solicit feedback and further refine the guidelines.

With the adoption from the Chicago Plan Commission, the guidelines will now be used to evaluate projects that are under DPD review. The guidelines will be shared as a resource for designers and developers as they go through the city approval process.