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About Design Guidelines

The design guidelines used by the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) and Historic Preservation Office (HPO) are intended to establish consistent and understandable principles for ensuring that work on historic properties is appropriate. They help to translate the general purposes set forth in the DC historic preservation law into practical guides for property owners, builders and architects.

DC Preservation Law Purposes and Standards

The District of Columbia historic preservation law establishes the basic purposes and standards for the treatment of the city’s historic properties. These include:

  • To retain and enhance historic properties;
  • To encourage their adaptation for current use; and
  • To ensure that alterations are compatible with their historic character.


For archaeological properties, the purposes are:

  • To protect historic and prehistoric archaeological sites from irreparable loss or destruction; and
  • To encourage the retrieval of archaeological information and artifacts when the destruction of an archaeological site is necessary in the public interest.


The District’s Historic Preservation Regulations give more information about the general use and applicability of design standards and guidelines.