Topic: Infill Development (New Structures)
For purposes of these guidelines, new structures include residential, commercial or utilitarian structures proposed for construction within one (1) of the historic districts or on the same parcel with an individually designated landmark.
The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings recommended against:
“Introducing any new building, streetscape or landscape feature that is out of scale or otherwise inappropriate to the setting’s historic character,” or
“Introducing a new landscape feature or plant material that is visually incompatible with the site or destroys site patterns or vistas.”
The following guidelines concerning infill development (new structures) are provided to assist in interpreting and application of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitation Historic Buildings.
Infill development should not copy historical styles, but must be architecturally compatible with the area and adjacent or nearby historic structures.
Materials used at the time of construction of structures in the area are recommended; however, other materials which are consistent with typical structures in the area may be acceptable when consistent with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards and Guidelines.
Size, Shape and Proportion
New building facades should be designed to look appropriate to, and compatible with, adjacent buildings. If there are no immediately adjacent structures, the applicant should look to nearby structures and blocks.
- Building height should be similar to nearby buildings, respecting the predominant heights of existing houses or commercial structures.
- Facade proportions (ratio of width to height) should be similar to those of surrounding buildings to create or complement streetscapes and views with the area.
- Building setback should follow established setbacks on the street and must comply with zoning requirements.
- Roof forms should follow predominant styles of adjacent buildings. The pitch of the residential roofs varies a great deal in the historic districts, but generally are substantially steeper than those of more recent construction.
- Utility connections should be placed to minimize visibility from the street.
- Materials should be compatible with those used in adjacent structures or, when there are no immediately adjacent structures, buildings within the surrounding area. Exterior surfaces should be painted or otherwise finished in a similarly compatible manner.
- Materials of foundation walls should be compatible with those of nearby buildings. If use of matching materials is impractical, substitutions which are not obtrusive should be used, such as grey finished stucco near granite block foundations rather than concrete blocks.
- Infill design can be approached with non-historic designs using simple and neutral elements which will fit better with the character of the neighborhood. New designs generally should not copy existing structures, but must be consistent with the character, style and scale of those structures.
- Door and window height-to width ratios should be similar to those in neighboring structures. The pattern established by the relationship of window or door openings and the surrounding wall area should respect the neighboring structures. The percentage of glass to wall should approximate that of neighboring structures.
- Facade elements which can help give a new structure a historically compatible appearance include:
- Window hoods and lintels;
- Entrances with porches and balustrades;
- Cornice lines with architectural detailing;
- Brick work with quoins, corbels, and other details;
- Columns and pilasters; and
- Any such detail elements must be consistent with the design of the structure. Adding details typical of one historic period may be inconsistent with a structure typical of the style of another period.
These guidelines were approved by the Michigan Bureau of History as of May 24, 1995 pursuant to Section 5.(3) of Act 169 of 1970, as amended (Local Historic Districts Act).
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