Design Review

The Public Design Commission accepts proposals from City agencies for projects on City-owned property, including property that is leased by the City to private entities.

Projects include, but are not limited to, the construction and restoration of buildings, such as museums and libraries; bridges and other infrastructure; parks and playgrounds; lighting and other streetscape elements, including distinctive sidewalks, bollards, and newsstands; signage; and the installation or conservation of art and memorials.

Each type of project has specific submission requirements. Additional information may be requested by staff as necessary to appropriately communicate the proposal to the Commission.

The Commission has also created general guidelines to help applicants prepare certain types of projects such as distinctive sidewalks and newsstands.

Submission materials must be submitted on the submission deadline for projects to be calendared and include an application signed by all involved City agencies. All projects must be listed on a transmittal submitted by the appropriate City agency liaison.


Agency Jurisdiction

The City agency that has jurisdiction over the property on which the project is located must make the formal submission to the Public Design Commission. For example, if an artist would like to install a work of art in a City park, the application to the Commission must come from the Department of Parks & Recreation. Similarly, if a community would like to install a memorial or commemorative plaque on a City sidewalk, the application must be submitted by the Department of Transportation. Search property ownership records in ACRIS.

Role of the Commission Liaisons

Each City agency has a designated liaison to manage the submission process on behalf of the agency and its consultants. The liaison is responsible for requesting placement on all Commission agendas by submitting a written transmittal indicating all projects to be reviewed, including projects that have been previously submitted. The liaison is also responsible for ensuring that all submissions are complete and accurate and are delivered on the submission deadline in order for the project to be placed on the agenda.

Interagency Coordination

Prior to submitting a proposal to the Commission, applicants must obtain internal agency approvals and ensure compliance with the regulations of other City agencies, such as the Landmarks Preservation Commission. In addition, in cases where a design proposal may overlap jurisdictions, the sponsoring agency is responsible for coordinating the project with the relevant City agencies and obtaining required approvals.


After projects are submitted, Commission staff reviews submissions for completeness and clarity before the projects are reviewed with a committee or scheduled for a public meeting. A limited number of submitted projects may be approved by Commission staff in lieu of the Commission, as discussed below in “Projects Reviewed by Commission Staff.”

Committee meetings provide an opportunity for agencies to get design feedback prior to submission to the full Commission. While committee meetings are open to the public, the Commission does not vote on projects, nor hear public testimony. Submission requirements for committee meetings are the same as for public hearings.

Public meetings are open to the public and are broken down into two sections:

  • The consent agenda: A group vote on projects that already have recommendations of approval from a committee; no presentations are necessary.
  • The public hearing: A hearing of formal presentations where public testimony is heard and the Commission votes.

The Annual Meeting Calendar is posted by December 31st the previous year. Meeting Agendas are posted on the Commission's website at least three (3) business days in advance of each public meeting date. Meeting minutes (certificates) are posted approximately one (1) week after each meeting.

Per the Resolution of the Public Design Commission, adopted on October 11, 2022, commissioners unable to be physically present at a meeting due to an extraordinary circumstance may participate in meetings by videoconference, provided that a minimum number of commissioners are present to fulfill the Commission’s quorum requirement.

Examples of extraordinary circumstances include disability, illness, caregiving responsibilities, and any other significant or unexpected event that precludes the commissioner’s physical attendance at such meeting. Significant or unexpected events may include a wedding or death of a friend or family member, or a significant professional event, such as receiving an achievement award.

Any commissioner wanting to participate in a meeting via videoconference must inform the Executive Director prior to such meeting. The names of commissioners participating remotely and their reasons for doing so will be announced at the start of the public meeting, and the announcement will be noted in the meeting minutes.

Projects Reviewed by Commission Staff

Per the Resolution adopted by the Commission on October 11, 2022, regarding the delegation of certain duties and responsibilities, some projects may be approved by the Commission's Executive Director in lieu of the Commission.

These projects shall be submitted on the designated submission dates listed in the Public Design Commission calendar per the standard submission process but will be processed on a timeline that is independent of the standard project review timeline in an affort to expedite review. 

These projects will not appear on the monthly Meeting Agendas.

Certificates of approval for projects reviewed by Commission staff will be issued to applicants upon approval. These certificates will be posted publicly with the monthly Meeting Minutes to the Public Design Commission Meetings webpage, typically within one week of the meeting date.