The Urban Design Commission met Tuesday to address general city guidelines and goals for the downtown area’s zoning code, which will go into effect in January.
Principal planner for the city of Madison’s planning department Bill Fruhling said reviewing and talking through the guidelines have great value. He said the commission had great suggestions and ideas for changes.
The topics the commission discussed during the meeting covered various components of buildings, including landscaping, architecture, signs, awnings, building material, access, building placement and visibility.
The commission also made sure the guidelines fit for different types of buildings, such as modern and historical buildings.
Fruhling described the discussion as a positive one, and he said he hopes that continues in the upcoming meetings.
“It’s going to make for better designed buildings and more thought about how buildings fit into a city type of environment,” Fruhling said.
The two districts the guidelines apply to are the greater Capitol area and the area around State Street, Fruhling said. The guidelines are supplementary material to zoning commitments, he said.
He said these areas are mixed-use districts, which means the area is more compact and includes a variety of uses for space including commercial, residential and institutional ones.
“The idea behind these guidelines is having some kind of criterion which the developers and architects consider,” Fruhling said.
A point of discussion addressed was historic districts and respecting historic sites in the zoning code. Commission member and architect Dawn O’Kroley said the guidelines should be respectful of historic buildings.
“Historic buildings should not be emulated,” she said. “Buildings should be of their time.”
Commission member John Harrington, a landscape architect, said parts of Madison should be maintained.
“There should be a few areas we should be protecting,” Harrington said. “But not everything’s going to be a historic district.”
Another point the commission discussed was maintaining the view of the Capitol dome and making sure the lighting on top of buildings do not compete with the view.
Commission member and citizen representative Tom DeChant said he calls one ten-story building near the Capitol “the zipper” because of the bright lighting down the building that blocks out the Capitol and makes the building look like a zipper. He said the commission needs to tackle 24/7 lighting, which can be a problem in some situations.
Fruhling said the guidelines will assist the city in making a better environment, better public spaces, better streets and better overall communities.
Fruhling said the UDC went through the guidelines section by section to make revisions. He said the revisions to the guidelines will be discussed at the next meeting, and the revisions will then be sent to the Plan Commission.
“We are trying to get this adopted by the end of the year,” Fruhling said. “We can talk through these and keep on schedule.”
After the Plan Commission, guideline revisions go to the Common Council Dec. 3 and will most likely be in effect Jan. 2 with the new zoning code.