Yeah, as you can imagine, I hear that sometimes. And I start off by listening.
This time, the complaint was voiced by a member of the Downtown Design Review Committee. He noted that with the Palo Duro project they were only holding to what the ordinance allows them to dictate.
I’m not arguing that point at all. But other design review committees have found a way to use, how shall we refer to it?… Peer Pressure.
Think about it. When McDonalds wanted to build a restaurant in Bricktown, they only had a compliance problem with the the footprint of the building, not the exterior design itself. The design committee knew they couldn’t really dictate the exterior design in that part of the district, and yet they demanded and urged McDonalds to do better. They used their bully pulpit to tell the community that McDonalds was trying to settle for a franchise design for this historic district. McDonalds got the message and changed their designs. They worked with city staff and architects on the committee to come up with a design that most felt was much more appropriate for the old warehouse district.
We’ve seen this done on other projects as well, and with other urban design districts.
So what do you think? Should a design committee only concern itself with what does or does not comply with the letter of the law? Or should they try to influence property owners to come up with better designs when the designs they submit are judged to be detrimental to the community?