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Planning / Urban Design & Architecture Review Panel / Development Projects

Concept Staff Review:
All development projects in Baltimore City require development and design review with Department staff. At a pre-development meeting, staff will review the concept design of the project and may make recommendations. If the project requires Planning Commission approval or is otherwise considered significant, further design review by
UDARP will be required. In the case of UDARP review, staff will establish a list of Urban Design Goals that the project must address during the review process. The development team is encouraged to work with staff to identify and share project goals that have been adopted to date. Once staff is comfortable with the concept plans for the
development, an initial Schematic UDARP Presentation will be scheduled. It should be noted that large-scale projects generally require an Introductory discussion session with the panel to provide background information before Schematic Review. Discussion sessions do not result in a decision making outcome, but are meant to provide guidance to development teams relative to conceptual design issues.

Schematic Presentation Requirements:

Planning Staff will introduce the project and its established Urban Design Goals to the Panel at the beginning of the presentation. It is important for the development team to provide to the Panel adequate information about the development program and design concept(s). The following is required:

  • Location map and site plan that includes adjacent properties, buildings and context;
  • Photographs, preferably mounted on a board, that illustrate existing site
    conditions and surrounding context;
  • Elevations, floor plans, sections and landscape plan as developed;
  • Indication of topography on sites where grades are an issue; and
  • Simple site and/or massing model when challenging topography is an issue.
  • Alternative studies for site layout and building massing that have been considered.

This is the most important presentation a development team will make to the Panel. It is an introduction of the team players, the project program, the design rationale and the site itself. A schematic presentation should be made early enough in the design process to afford the possibilities of significant changes, if requested by the Panel. Site context
should be clearly illustrated to the Panel through rendered area plans, scaled site plan and massing studies that portray building bulk, height and setbacks. Photographs or images of the site and surrounding context must be included with this presentation. If alternative site plans or massing studies were considered, those must also be presented. The Panel will judge the concept plans using the established Urban Design Goals for the project as
well as the following general guidelines:

  1. Is the development allowed by zoning and adopted urban renewal plans? If not, what variances or amendments are required? Are any other administrative or
    legislative approvals required?
  2. How does the project relate in scale (height, bulk and density) with the
    surrounding context? If it is substantially different, how is it justified?
  3. How is the pedestrian realm defined and connected with existing street and
    sidewalk patterns?
  4. Are surrounding frontage and setback patterns respected?
  5. Is the front entrance or major points of entry clearly defined?
  6. Is the site in or near a Historic District? Are there landmark properties nearby?
  7. Where is the parking and loading located on the site? Are they effectively
    screened? Is the parking and circulation pattern similar to those of neighboring
  8. Is the site located within walking distance of public transit and, if so, are the
    front entrances or major points of entry oriented toward the transit?
  9. Are the concept elevations well composed and proportioned? How do they
    relate to adjacent buildings?
  10. Is the landscape concept appropriate for the surrounding conditions and
    proposed uses?
  11. Does the design incorporate environmentally sensitive building practices such as
    energy efficiency, green roofs, storm water treatment, or meet LEED
  12. Does the design add to Baltimore City’s character of contrasts and interesting
    blend of the historic and contemporary?

If the Panel withholds schematic approval at the first presentation, subsequent meetings with Planning Staff will be required. When the Department is comfortable with resubmitting the project to the Panel again, another presentation will be scheduled.

Final Presentation Requirements:

At the final stage, it is important to indicate changes made relative to previous Panel comments. Structuring a presentation based on responses to previous minutes and project modifications is required. The following must represent the project if it is to proceed to working drawings and permit application:

  • Final site plan that has been approved by the Department of Planning Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC);
  • Elevations; and sections and floor plans if previously requested;
  • Completed landscape plan that includes a planting list and specifications;
  • Major building material samples that indicate surface treatment and color;
  • Proposed signage/graphic designs and locations;
  • Proposed exterior lighting fixtures and locations; and
  • Site and/or massing model.
  • The previous submission drawings to show how the project has progressed.

The final phase of Panel review is important because it completes the review process.
The Panel judges final plans using to the following guidelines:

  1. Have all previous comments from the previous Panel and Departmental reviews been satisfactorily addressed?
  2. Is the site plan and building massing completely resolved?
  3. Are the elevations fully developed and detailed?
  4. Do the building samples (walls, details, window and door) form a coherent
    color and material palette?
  5. Is the landscape plan fully developed?
  6. Is the accompanying landscape plant list appropriate for the project and
    location relative to neighborhood compatibility and survival? Are species
    and caliper indicated?
  7. Is the project’s external mechanical equipment completely resolved?
  8. Is the signage package that is presented to the Panel allowed by applicable
    laws/ordinances? How is signage placed and scaled?
  9. Are the exterior building and site lighting catalog cuts presented in scale
    with the project? Will they negatively impact surrounding properties?

Attaining a recommendation of Final Approval concludes the UDARP process. The final recommendations of the Panel may be presented to the City’s Planning Commission.

Lastly, an electronic set of final plans must be submitted to the UDARP coordinator within one week of the Final Presentation.


Department of Planning
Thomas J. Stosur, Director
417 E. Fayette Street
8th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 396-7526 (PLAN)
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Other Contacts

Anthony Cataldo
UDARP Coordinator
(410) 396-4107