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

All signage and signage programs, including building identification, wayfinding and historic markers, are submitted for review and approval by the Design Commission. Large-scale signage and signage systems are submitted for conceptual review and approval by the committee early in the design process when drawings are at the pre-schematic level. All signage, including individual signs, is submitted for preliminary review and approval at the end of the schematic design phase. If any significant design changes are made in design development subsequent to preliminary approval, the project is submitted for committee review and approval prior to proceeding to final drawings. Final review and approval is based on the submission of construction drawings.

Before preparing a submission for a signage proposal, please see the Design Commission's Signage References (PDF).


Conceptual Review (For large-scale signage or signage systems only)
  1. A brief statement that describes the project scope (no more than one page for each):

    1. Design intention and planning principles
    2. Community/neighborhood context

  2. A minimum of eight (8) loose 8” x 10” color photographs of the site and surrounding area.1

  3. Pre-schematic design documents at 5% completion of total design at the minimum scales indicated below.2

    1. Location plan 
      Scale: neighborhood and borough
    2. Site plan, including all existing signage
      Scale: 1” = 40’
    3. Plans, elevations and sections
      Scale: 1/16”= 1’-0”

  4. For historic markers: if a marker(s) already exist(s) in the vicinity commemorating the same person, place or event, a map or diagram showing the location of all such existing markers.2

  5. For historic markers: a written statement by the professional historian(s) with relevant expertise of the significance of the person, place or event to be commemorated, including applicable research. If a marker(s) already exist(s) in the vicinity, the statement should include an explanation of why an additional marker is appropriate.

  6. For historic markers: a curriculum vita for each historian consulted.

Preliminary Review (All projects)
  1. Two copies of the Application Form signed by the Commissioner or designated City agency representative.

  2. A narrative description of modifications to the brief statement (see Conceptual Review item 1).

  3. 100% schematic design drawings (approximately 20% completion of total design) at the minimum scales indicated below.2

    1. Location plan     
      Scale: neighborhood and borough
    2. Site plan, including all existing signage      
      Scale: 1” = 40’
    3. Plans, elevations and sections, including the layout of text and any images    
      Scale: 1/16” = 1’-0”
    4. Lighting design and details, if applicable
      Scale: 1/8” = 1’-0” 

  4. One (1) or more renderings that clearly depict the design in its context.

  5. All text, double-spaced, copy edited and proofread.

  6. For historic markers: a supplemental written statement by the professional historian(s) with relevant expertise confirming that (s)he vetted the content and it is historically accurate, and including additional research undertaken since conceptual review (see Conceptual Review items 5 and 6).

  7. Building and/or site landscape designs, if the installation of the signage necessitates changes to the existing (see Architecture as well as Landscape Architecture Submission Guidelines).

  8. Material samples.3

  9. A model and/or mock-up.4

Please note that if any significant design changes are made in design development subsequent to preliminary approval, the project is submitted for committee review and approval prior to proceeding to final drawings.

When there have been no substantive changes beyond those required by the Commission and the project is submitted for final approval within one year of preliminary approval, a second hearing may not be required. In such cases, the Commission may vote to give final approval without affording an additional opportunity for public comment.


Final Review (All projects)
  1. Two copies of the Application Form signed by the Commissioner or designated City agency representative.
  2. Construction drawings at 90% completion, including the text and any images.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 ).

  3. Final text, double-spaced, copy edited and proofread. 
  4. For historic markers: if any text or image changes were made since preliminary review, a revised written statement by the professional historian(s) with relevant expertise clarifying the revisions, confirming that (s)he vetted the content and it is historically accurate, and including additional research undertaken since conceptual review (see Preliminary Review item 6). 
  5. A complete list of materials, colors and finishes. 
  6. Material samples, including types, color and finish.3 
  7. An updated model and/or mock-up is encouraged.4 

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.

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 be formatted for Windows XP or an earlier version with no automatic slide advances, and submitted on a CD and as duplicate print-outs, properly collated and stapled. 
  3. PDFs of drawings submitted at the conceptual and preliminary level of review must also be provided on a disc.

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.

4A minimum of eight (8) loose 8” x 10” color photographs, including close-ups, of the model is required. Photographs must show the model from different viewpoints and be clearly labeled on the back.

5Please do not use plastic binding or sleeves.

 Download the Application Form



General Information on Place, Commemorative and Other Historic Markers

The Design Commission supports the strategic installation of markers to commemorate significant people, places and events that played a critical role in New York City’s rich history or capture what is peculiarly distinctive about New York. To ensure historical perspective and avoid marking places of passing contemporary, and possibly temporary, interest, the Commission discourages markers for people, places and events that have been recognized as significant for a period of less than 30 years, unless they are of exceptional importance.

Given the potential for a proliferation of markers in a city as old and complex as New York, the Commission strongly recommends that a professional historian with expertise in a relevant field establish the significance of each subject and thoroughly vet the text and any images. If markers currently exist in the vicinity, the historian should explain why additional ones are needed, so that extraneous markers do not diminish the impact by creating visual clutter.

The substantive content should reflect the depth of research and scholarship, avoiding both lengthy narrative and over-simplification, and balancing the presentation and absence of bias, and compellingly convey the historic significance in order to enrich understanding of place, history and identity, motivate further learning, and offer an interpretation of substance and complexity that will stand the test of time.

The Commission encourages applicants to follow the National Register Criteria for Evaluation (http://www.nps.gov/nr/publications/bulletins/nrb15/) that use the concept of “historic context” as a framework for evaluating significance. Historic contexts are defined as those patterns, themes or trends in history to which a specific occurrence, property or site can be linked, and in relation to which, its significance judged. Not only must the historic themes or trends to which a place is linked be significant, but also the place itself, evaluated in relationship to broader historical trends. The National Register also makes use of comparisons of places, from similar moments in time and similar contexts, to determine whether the character and associations of a particular candidate or topic stand out as unique or pivotal.

Consequently, proposals for place markers should mark places of significance that:

  • are associated with important historic events or activities, or with the lives of important persons;

  • are sites of buildings, structures or monuments, whether existing or vanished, of special or distinctive design, construction or character, or have otherwise made an important contribution to the City’s cultural, social, economic or political history; or that sustain or nurture community traditions and identity;

  • are notable archaeological sites; or
  • are landscape features or other sites that capture distinctively the special identity and character of New York.

Place markers should be located as close as possible to the actual sites recognized, and oriented to ensure legibility and minimize any contribution to pedestrian congestion. 

Proposals for commemorative markers should also consider the following:

  • For an historical event, a single focal point is preferable, and the marker(s) should be located at or near the scene of the event, in a place as closely or logically related to the event as possible, or in a suitable public space. 

  • For an outstanding person, a single marker should be located at or near the scene of the event with which the person is identified, in a place closely identified with that person, or in a suitable public space. 

  • For a joint commemoration of multiple persons or their conduct, a single group marker should be located at or near the scene of an important event with which they are jointly identified, in a place with which they are jointly identified, or in a suitable public space. If a subset of such persons is identified with a particular borough, a second marker may be considered for a suitable public space in that borough.

  • Commemoration of circumstances only indirectly related to an important historical event, as distinguished from the event itself, is discouraged.