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Design Guidelines

The Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) and Historic Preservation Office (HPO) use written design standards and guidelines to review construction affecting historic properties in the District of Columbia. In some cases, HPRB and HPO also use the nationwide historic preservation standards and guidelines issued by the National Park Service (NPS).

Design guidelines 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.

The District’s Historic Preservation Regulations give more information about the general use and applicability of design standards and guidelines. For some of the most frequent types of work on historic buildings, specific design standards are included in the DC historic preservation regulations.

Guidelines by Topic

Topical design guidelines provide essential guidance on many commonly encountered preservation issues. There are separate guidelines for building additions, new construction, commercial buildings, alteration of various building components, and site work.

Historic District Guidelines

Historic district design guidelines apply general principles to the specific architectural and urban characteristics of specific neighborhoods.

National Park Service Standards and Guidelines

The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for preservation and rehabilitation, and other NPS guidelines and technical briefs provide more detailed advice on how to resolve specific preservation problems.