Design Review

Design & Historic Preservation Meetings

Design Commission Meetings

Historic Preservation Commission Meetings


About Design Review

The Pasadena Municipal Code requires design review of new construction and alterations throughout the City. To determine if a project will require design review, please review the thresholds listed in the zoning code. The map above illustrates the areas of the city where design review may be required. In addition to the specific thresholds for these areas, all multi-family development projects consisting of 3 or more total units and any new building over 5,000 square feet in size citywide require design review. Depending on the size of the project, design review may be conducted by city staff or at a public hearing before the Design Commission, a group of nine citizens appointed by the Mayor & City Council.  This page also contains information about the Master Sign Plans and Creative Sign Permit processes. See below for more information about these requirements and a link to associated application forms and submittal checklists.

The goals and policies in the Land Use Element of the General Plan support high quality building design in Pasadena. Detailed design guidelines have been adopted for various areas of the city to assist architects, developers, city staff, the Design Commission and the public understand how to achieve high quality building designs. Visit our design guidelines page to view and download the guidelines that apply to each area of the city.

Design Guidelines

There are three phases of Design Review:

1. Preliminary Consultation

Applications for design review that involve new construction or major alterations to existing buildings are required to go through a preliminary consultation process to obtain comments on the proposed design concept prior to preparing detailed drawings for the formal decision-making phases of Design Review.  Applications for Preliminary Consultation should be submitted as early as possible in the development of the project design to ensure meaningful feedback.

2. Concept Design Review

Concept Design Review is the primary step in the Design Review process. Applications for Concept Design Review normally address the basic design of a project, including compatibility with surroundings, massing, proportion, siting, solid-to-void relationships, and compliance with applicable design guidelines.  A project must first go through Preliminary Consultation before applying for Concept Design Review.

3. Final Design Review

Final Design Review is the final phase of the Design Review process. It normally focuses on construction details, finishes, materials, landscaping, and on consistency of the project with the design approved during Concept Design Review (as well as compliance with the conditions of the approved Concept Design Review).

Consolidated Design Review

Projects that are minor or that have extensive design requirements in the Zoning Code may, at the discretion of city staff, combine Concept Design Review and Final Design Review into a single application for Consolidated Design Review. Please consult with Design & Historic Preservation staff to determine if a project may be reviewed under the Consolidated Design Review process.

Master Sign Plan

A Master Sign Plan is required whenever six or more non-residential tenant spaces exist on the same property, whenever six or more non-exempt signs are proposed for a single use, whenever the Director determines that a Master Sign Plan is needed because of special project characteristics, or for automobile service stations. Click here for more information about this process as listed in the Zoning Code.

Creative Sign Permit

A Creative Sign Permit may be requested in order to allow signage standards that differ from the provisions of the signage standards in the Zoning Code but comply with the purpose and findings of the Creative Sign Permit Process as listed in the Zoning Code.