Public Design Commission of the City of New York
Art Commission of the City of New York
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Submission Guidelines - Streetscapes

The review procedure for Streetscapes is the same as for Landscape Architecture with the exception of distinctive sidewalksdistinctive light fixtures and newsstands, which have unique requirements, and in most cases, are submitted for preliminary and final review simultaneously.

Before preparing a submission, please review the Design Commission's General Information on Distinctive Sidewalks, on Planters, on Distinctive Lighting and on Newsstands.  


Distinctive Sidewalks

The Design Commission reviews distinctive sidewalks for their aesthetic impact on the streetscape. Any sidewalk that deviates from that neighborhood's standard, which in most cases is Department of Transportation grey concrete with a 5' x 5' scoring pattern, but can include cobble or granite block in areas where the historic fabric remains intact, is considered distinctive. Designs for distinctive sidewalks in front of existing buildings are submitted by the Department of Transportation. Designs for distinctive sidewalks that are part of new construction projects are submitted by the Department of Buildings.

Visit the Department of Transportation Web site
Visit the Department of Buildings Web site

Preliminary and Final Review

1. Two copies of the Application Form signed by the Commissioner or designated City agency representative, including the name, address and telephone number of the private entity proposing the distinctive sidewalk. Application Forms must be signed either by a representative from the Department of Transportation's sidewalk division or the Department of Buildings, whichever is applicable.

2. A copy of the receipt for the Builder's Pavement Application submitted to the Department of Transportation for the installation of roadway pavements, curbs and sidewalks.

3. A copy of Forestry's Tree Permit, if applicable.

4. A minimum of eight (8) loose 8" x 10" color photographs of the site and surrounding area. These photographs must show the adjacent property lines and general character of the neighborhood.1

5. One (1) or more loose 8" x 10" color photographs of the building, if it exists1, or one (1) or more renderings of the building, if it is under construction.

6. A location plan (minimum scale: neighborhood and borough), indicating where the site is within the surrounding neighborhood and within the borough.2

7. Existing and proposed site plans (minimum scale: 1" = 40') that extend at least one block beyond the project site in each direction, showing both sides of the street, and indicate all existing sidewalk paving materials, trees and street furniture/fixtures. The proposed site plan must also include any other streetscape elements (light fixtures, trees, benches, etc.) that are proposed as part of the distinctive paving treatment.2

8. Construction drawings at 90% completion.2
For all projects that require a permit from the Department of Buildings, please note that all construction drawings must conform to the Department of Building's requirements for its B-SCAN system (see B-SCAN Requirements).

9. A complete list of materials, colors and finishes.

10. Material samples, including types, color and finish.3

11. Written confirmation of community board review, as needed. (The agency is encouraged to submit the community board's resolution.)

Final Approval is conditioned upon commencement of work within two years of the final approval date and the submission of comprehensive photographic documentation of the completed project consisting of 8" x 10" color archival-quality photographs for the Design Commission's archive of the City's built environment.

Download the Application Form

1All photos must be clearly labeled on the back. Polaroids or color photocopies will not be accepted. If using a digital camera, photographs must be printed on photo-quality paper.

2Drawings must be submitted in the following formats:

  1. Two complete sets of unmounted drawings, properly collated and stapled, must be submitted. All drawings must indicate scale. Plans must include a north arrow, and elevations must indicate façade orientation. Drawings should not exceed 36" as the longest dimension to comply with Department of Buildings requirements. Half-size drawings are preferable as long as they are legible. Any reduced drawings must include a graphic scale. 
  2. Critical drawings, including renderings, must be mounted on one (1) or more 30" x 40" boards for presentation (see Presentation Guidelines) and/or included in a PowerPoint presentation. All PowerPoint presentations must utilize .jpg images only that have been resized before being inserted in the presentation, so the completed presentation is limited to 30 MB. Additionally, PowerPoint presentations must be formatted for Windows XP or an earlier version with no automatic slide advances, and submitted on a CD and as duplicate print-outs at a legible size, properly collated and stapled. 

3One (1) or more 8” x 10” color photographs of each non-standard material sample are required. All photos must be clearly labeled on the back. 

4Please do not use plastic binding or sleeves.



General Information on Distinctive Sidewalks

In order to achieve a coherent and harmonious streetscape, the Design Commission encourages consistency in the character of the City’s sidewalks. Consequently, the Commission generally supports the installation of the appropriate New York City standard grey concrete with simulated saw-cut joints in a 5’ x 5’ scoring pattern, as specified by the Department of Transportation, except in those areas where historic fabric, such as cobble or stone slab, remains intact and can either be maintained or replicated.

Proposed sidewalk treatments that deviate from the standards may be considered under exceptional circumstances. This might include a condition in which the entire block is uniformly treated or the design of the sidewalk is integral to the design of the building or open plaza space in front of which it is installed. Other exceptions may include the proposed use, in historic neighborhoods, of tinted concrete to simulate bluestone or granite.

The Commission strongly discourages proposals for the installation of logos, building numbers/addresses, and “carpet treatments” in front of building entrances, or other piecemeal treatments that visually disrupt the continuity and civic character of the streetscape.

Strategies and interventions that seek to improve and upgrade the City’s streetscape and are encouraged by the Commission include:

 

  • Planting street trees generally, and specifically as an alternative to planters (see General Information on Planters);
  • Using tree pits that are as large as possible, given the specific site conditions, per the Department of Parks & Recreation’s Tree Planting Guidelines;
  • Using amenity strips that incorporate continuous, structural soil trenches and permeable unit pavers to enhance the life and health of street trees;
  • Installing granite curbs instead of steel-faced or concrete curbs;
  • Using pre-cast concrete detectable warning pavers rather than plastic.
View the Department of Parks & Recreation’s Tree Planting Guidelines (PDF)


General Information on Planters

The Commission may consider aboveground planters when in-ground tree planting is not possible due to subsurface conditions or historic granite slab sidewalks. In such circumstances, a maintenance plan is required. The Commission encourages the use of planters that are:

  • Aesthetically pleasing and contextually appropriate;
  • Made of durable materials that can withstand the elements;
  • Appropriate in scale to the site;
  • Capable of providing suitable soil volume and drainage to allow trees to thrive.


Distinctive Light Fixtures

The Design Commission reviews designs for the installation or replacement of distinctive light fixtures, other than replacements in-kind, for their aesthetic impact on the streetscape, including light quality. Proposals for distinctive light fixture installations are submitted by the Department of Transportation.

Visit the Department of Transportation Web site

Preliminary and Final Review

1. Two copies of the Application Form signed by the Commissioner or designated agency representative of the Department of Transportation, including the name, address and telephone number of any entity responsible for the maintenance of the distinctive light fixtures, if relevant.

2. A minimum of eight (8) loose 8" x 10" color photographs of the site and surrounding area. These photographs must show the adjacent property lines and general character of the neighborhood.1

3. Existing and proposed photometric studies.

4. A location plan (minimum scale: neighborhood and borough), indicating where the site is within the surrounding neighborhood and within the borough.2 The neighborhood plan must key all existing distinctive lighting installations in the surrounding neighborhood.

5. Existing and proposed site plans (minimum scale: 1" = 40'). The proposed site plan must also include any other streetscape elements (paving, trees, benches, etc.) that are proposed as part of the distinctive lighting proposal.2

6. Construction drawings at 90% completion.2

For all projects that require a permit from the Department of Buildings, please note that all construction drawings must conform to the Department of Building's requirements for its B-SCAN system (see B-SCAN Requirements).

7. A cut sheet of the proposed distinctive light fixture.

8. A complete list of materials, colors and/or finishes.

9. Written confirmation of community board review, as needed. (The agency is encouraged to submit the community board's resolution.

Final Approval is conditioned upon commencement of work within two years of the final approval date and the submission of comprehensive photographic documentation of the completed project consisting of 8" x 10" color archival-quality photographs for the Design Commission's archive of the City's built environment.

Download the Application Form

1All photos must be clearly labeled on the back. Polaroids or color photocopies will not be accepted. If using a digital camera, photographs must be printed on photo-quality paper.

2Drawings must be submitted in the following formats:

  • Two complete sets of unmounted drawings, properly collated and stapled, must be submitted. All drawings must indicate scale. Plans must include a north arrow, and elevations must indicate façade orientation. Drawings should not exceed 36" as the longest dimension to comply with Department of Buildings requirements. Half-size drawings are preferable as long as they are legible. Any reduced drawings must include a graphic scale. 
  • Critical drawings, including renderings, must be mounted on one (1) or more 30" x 40" boards for presentation (see Presentation Guidelines) and/or included in a PowerPoint presentation. All PowerPoint presentations must utilize .jpg images only that have been resized before being inserted in the presentation, so the completed presentation is limited to 30 MB. Additionally, PowerPoint presentations must be formatted for Windows XP or an earlier version with no automatic slide advances, and submitted on a CD and as duplicate print-outs at a legible size, properly collated and stapled.

3Please do not use plastic binding or sleeves.



General Information on Distinctive Light Fixtures

In order to achieve a coherent and harmonious streetscape, the Design Commission supports a unified approach to street furniture, including light fixtures. Consequently, the Commission encourages the installation of fixtures that are sympathetic to the aesthetic and historic character of specific neighborhoods, both in terms of architectural style and scale. The Commission discourages the installation of historic poles, such as the Bishop's Crook, in neighborhoods that are characterized by contemporary architecture.

The Commission also supports the consistent use of light fixtures throughout entire neighborhoods, communities or districts to achieve maximum cohesion and visual impact. The Commission encourages applicants to develop comprehensive master plans that address these areas holistically and avoid piecemeal proposals. Master plans may be implemented in multiple phases, if sufficient funds are not available to undertake an entire area at one time.

Before selecting light fixtures, applicants must work closely with the Department of Transportation to determine which fixtures meet mandatory light levels on specific streets, so that a minimum number of poles can be maintained. The Commission strongly discourages proposals that require the installation of additional light poles, as they increase visual clutter and detract from a unified streetscape.

View the Department of Transportation’s Street Lighting Catalogue (PDF)


Newsstands

While Cemusa’s newsstand design has been approved by the Design Commission as a prototype for use Citywide, the Design Commission reviews the newsstand size and location for each proposed installation to determine the newsstand’s aesthetic impact on the specific site. Newsstands are submitted to the Design Commission by the Department of Consumer Affairs, but the Department of Transportation must approve the newsstand location prior to Design Commission review.

Visit the Department of Consumer Affairs' Web site

Preliminary and Final Review

1. Two copies of the Application Form signed by the appropriate agency head or designated agency representative, including the name and address of the private entity proposing the newsstand. The application form should indicate the address of the building in front of which the newsstand will be installed.

2. A copy of the Department of Consumer Affairs Track Sheet indicating that the Department of Transportation approved the newsstand location and size.

3. Written confirmation that either the community board (a) reviewed the newsstand application, or (b) did not provide comments within the designated 60-day review period. (The agency is encouraged to submit the community board's resolution.)

4. Written confirmation that the property owner has been notified. (The agency is encouraged to submit the applicant's notification letter.)

5. A minimum of eight (8) loose 8" x 10" color photographs of the site and surrounding area for the proposed newsstand taken during daylight hours. These photographs must show the general streetscape; views from across the street indicating the facades of the buildings in front of the proposed newsstand site; and views up and down the block to show the visual corridors.1

6. A minimum of three (3) photomontages showing the proposed newsstand in the context of the existing site, including from across the street and from up and down the block.2

7. A location plan (minimum scale: neighborhood and borough), indicating where the newsstand is within the surrounding neighborhood and within the borough.2

8. A proposed site plan (minimum scale: 1" = 40") that extends at least one block beyond the project site in each direction, showing both sides of the street as well as all trees and existing street furniture/fixtures, including any existing newsstands.2

9. Copies of the Design Commission certificates of approval for any/all existing newsstands in the area, as indicated on the site plan. (The agency receives certificates for all approved newsstands, and should include them as part of the submission.)

10. Detailed existing and proposed site plans (minimum scale: 1" = 5'). The plans must include all critical dimensions and indicate the location and nature of adjacent buildings, including details of setbacks from major entrances.2


Final Approval is conditioned upon commencement of work within two years of the final approval date and the submission of comprehensive photographic documentation of the completed project consisting of 8" x 10" color archival-quality photographs for the Design Commission's archive of the City's built environment.

Download the Application Form

1All photos must be clearly labeled on the back. Polaroids or color photocopies will not be accepted. If using a digital camera, photographs must be printed on photo-quality paper.

2Drawings must be submitted in the following formats:

  • Three complete sets of unmounted drawings, properly collated and stapled, must be submitted. All drawings must indicate scale. Plans must include a north arrow, and elevations must indicate façade orientation. Drawings should not exceed 36" as the longest dimension to comply with Department of Buildings requirements. Half-size drawings are preferable as long as they are legible. Any reduced drawings must include a graphic scale. 
  • Critical drawings, including renderings, must be mounted on one (1) or more 30" x 40" boards for presentation (see Presentation Guidelines) and/or included in a PowerPoint presentation. All PowerPoint presentations must utilize .jpg images only that have been resized before being inserted in the presentation, so the completed presentation is limited to 30 MB. Additionally, PowerPoint presentations must be formatted for Windows XP or an earlier version with no automatic slide advances, and submitted on a CD and as duplicate print-outs at a legible size, properly collated and stapled.

3Please do not use plastic binding or sleeves.



General Information on Newsstands

The approved Cemusa street furniture franchise newsstand is available in multiple lengths and widths to accommodate varying site conditions, however, the appropriate proportions should be maintained.

Length (not including overhang): 8’; 10’; 12’
Width (not including overhang): 4’; 5’; 6’

Consequently, the Commission generally recommends that 4’ W newsstands are 8’ L or 10’ L; 5’ newsstands are 10’ L or 12’ L (although 8’ L is acceptable when site conditions dictate); and 6’ W newsstands are 12’ L (although 10’ L is acceptable when site conditions dictate).

When selecting newsstand locations, applicants are encouraged to consider the impact of the newsstand dimensions on the visual corridor of the overall streetscape. The Commission supports the use of 6’ W newsstand on sidewalks ≥ 25’ W; 5’ W newsstands on sidewalks ≥ 19’ W; and 4’ W newsstands on sidewalks < 19’ W.

The Commission strongly discourages locations that:

  • contribute to visual clutter;
  • create a street wall at the curb;
  • block views of artwork or landmarked structures;
  • block sightlines to major parks;
  • block sightlines through an arcade;
  • block open views of public plazas;
  • block sightlines of major thoroughfares;
  • result in three or more newsstands at an intersection.

The Commission does not generally reconsider previously rejected locations unless the applicant illustrates that the site conditions that the Commission considered in making its initial determination have changed.