Monday, February 16, 2009

Design Aesthetics in the Town Center

Development in the Town Center has been viewed as an opportunity to cultivate a higher design aesthetic within the City. However, the proposed code does not move into full architectural review of projects as is common in some similar districts. Also, the proposed code provides flexibility as well as regulation. The desired outcome is a higher quality development environment with additional freedom and flexibility.

Building material is an example of this higher quality balanced with increased flexibility. Structures in the Town Center will be required to provide 100% of exterior walls with an approved material. However, unlike other portions of the existing zoning code (remaining in place after this update for other zoning districts), structures in the Town Center will have a wider range of building materials to consider. Specifically, the proposed code will permit brick, EIFS, rock, stone, and wood. Exposed metal will not be permitted as a façade material.

Colors will also be regulated under the proposed code. A maximum of three colors will be permitted per site. Earth tones native to East Texas are also a requirement. Color in signage is excluded from these regulations. Such signage and colors, if exceeding the regulation, must fit within the allowable square footage for attached signage.

The other significant feature of the code relates to façade configuration. To reduce monotony and encourage a comfortable pedestrian environment, codes of this type typically regulate transparency. In short, the regulations require a certain percentage of the first floor to consist of windows and other transparent materials. This requirement greatly enhances both perception and reality of public safety. This practice is commonly referred to as "eyes on the street." The inclusion of transparency also increases viability of commercial activities. The requirement would not apply to residential, religious, educational, or other similar uses. The following graphic illustrates the concept of transparency under the code.

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