Design Review Board

Committee/Board Charge
The UW-Madison Design Review Board (DRB) is the official architectural review committee for the university. The Board is established to review the architectural and site design for all new buildings, building additions, landscape designs, or studies for major physical change on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus as defined in the current Campus Master Plan.

Design Review Board Purpose and Focus

Review the architectural and site design of each proposed new building or major structure on the UW-Madison campus.

Review projects to determine if the architectural site and design follows the intent and guidelines of the approved campus master plan with a focus the project:

  • Complies with the current approved Campus Master Plan and associated Design Guidelines.
  • Promotes and assures a high level of design quality of public open spaces and landscapes, architectural form and exterior building appearance, and primary interior public spaces.
  • Assures that the relationship between the building and its main public interior spaces relate to the larger campus context, including pedestrian and vehicular circulation patterns and open space systems.
  • Compliance with design modifications recommended by the university and its representatives.

DESIGN REVIEW BOARD – ORGANIZATIONAL CHARTER

Select this link for full pdf file description of the Design Review Board’s Madison General Ordinance (MGO 28.097(7))   charter, purpose, and process.

Design Review Board Meeting Materials

Design Review Board Meetings  |  2024
January 1, 2024 – December 31, 2024

Board Membership List 2024

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January 16, 2024

February 20, 2024

March 19, 2024

Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Recording
Meeting Notes

April 16, 2024

Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Recording
Meeting Notes

May 21, 2024

Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Recording
Meeting Notes

June 18, 2024

Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Recording
Meeting Notes

July 16, 2024

Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Recording
Meeting Notes

August 20, 2024

Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Recording
Meeting Notes

September 17, 2024

Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Recording
Meeting Notes

October 15, 2024

Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Recording
Meeting Notes

November 19, 2024

Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Recording
Meeting Minutes

December 17, 2024

Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Recording
Meeting Minutes

Design Review Board Meetings  |  2023
January 1, 2023 – December 31, 2023

Board Membership List 2024

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January 17, 2023

Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Recording
Meeting Notes

February 21, 2023

Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Recording
Meeting Notes

March 21, 2023

Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Recording
Meeting Notes

April 18, 2023

Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Recording
Meeting Notes

May 16, 2023

Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Recording
Meeting Notes

June 20, 2023

Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Recording
Meeting Notes

July 18, 2023

Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Recording
Meeting Notes

October 17, 2023

November 21, 2023

Agenda
Presentation
Meeting Recording
Meeting Notes

December 19, 2023

Categories of DRB Membership

  1. UW-Madison University Architect or Assoc. Vice Chancellor FP&M designee (chair)
  2. UW-Madison University Landscape Architect or Assoc. Vice Chancellor FP&M designee
  3. Private, national-firm Registered Architect as designated by UW FP&M
  4. Private, national-firm Registered Landscape Architect as designated by UW FP&M
  5. City of Madison Planning Director or designee
  6. City of Madison Urban Design Commission member (as designated by the UDC chair)
  7. Joint Campus Area Committee Representative from a registered City of Madison Neighborhood Association as designated by the JCAC
  8. City of Madison Alder (based on project location, ad-hoc, non-voting)
  9. Registered Neighborhood Association Rep. (based on project location, ad-hoc, non-voting)
  10. UW-Madison Project Sponsor (one rotating position per project; ad-hoc, non-voting)
  11. UW Campus Planning Committee Representative (designated by the CPC; ad hoc, non-voting)

 

Meeting Specifics & Required Presentation Materials

Typically, the DRB will review a project once near the end of the Pre-Design Planning stage and three times: during conceptual phase, schematic design, and design development. Some projects, for various reasons, may necessitate more or less than three reviews. Project materials are due to the project PM two weeks prior to scheduled DRB meeting date.

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Types of projects to be reviewed by the DRB

The following is a list of project types that are to be reviewed by the Design Review Board. This is not an exhaustive list and any questions regarding the need for review or the number of times a project is to be reviewed is at the discretion of the DRB chair and/or the Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning & Management.

Projects that required DRB approval that are within the C-I zoning district include:

  • New buildings, building additions and/or major changes to existing buildings or campus landscapes that modify the exterior of the building(s) or site(s).

NOTE: Projects outside the C-I zoning district will also be reviewed by the DRB with recommendations being made to the City of Madison Plan Commission and/or the Urban Design Commission as required by city ordinances.

Projects that would be beneficial to have DRB input include:

  • The Campus Master Plan and any significant updates or changes to the Plan.
  • Facilities Master Plans for colleges, schools, departments or major units of the university.
  • New public open spaces, landscapes, gathering places or landscape architectural designs.

Project types that typically would not need DRB Review, unless requested by the DRB chair, include:

  • Utility projects (unless they include significant site restoration upgrades or changes)
  • Maintenance activities on existing buildings (unless they include significant exterior changes)
  • Maintenance activities on existing campus landscapes or major landscape planting renovations.
  • Interior design modifications (unless part of a major public interior space).
  • Small landscape design projects that do not impact the overall character of the site or campus design neighborhood (bus stops, benches, picnic tables/chairs, site lighting upgrades, etc.).
  • “Minor alternations” to existing zoning approved uses, as defined by the City of Madison ordinance, (unless they include significant impacts to the exterior of buildings or landscapes as defined by the DRB chair). “Minor alternations” on campus, either in or outside the C-I district, follow the City of Madison zoning review process for minor alts.

Definitions Related to Reviewable Projects:

New Building(s)

  • Projects with a total project cost of over $300,000.
  • Projects under $300,000 if determined by the DRB chair to be reviewable.
  • Projects over 4,000 GSF. (Projects <4,000 GSF typically do not require zoning review but may require a minor alternation through the city.)
  • Projects within a defined campus historic district.

Building Addition(s) and Major Changes to an Existing Building(s)

  • Projects over 4,000 GSF.
  • A building addition within a defined campus historic district.
  • A building addition or modification as part of an existing historic structure.
  • Projects that include over 10,000 SF of exterior site disturbance.
  • An addition to an entry or prominent visual side of a building.
  • Departure from existing cladding and/or material use on the exterior of a building.
  • Addition impedes on an area reserved for development in the approved Campus Master Plan.

Landscape Design and Major Changes to an Existing Site/Landscape

  • Alternations in a defined campus historic district or to an historic landscape.
  • Alternations to a highly visible corridor, lawn, quadrangle or courtyard.
  • Over 10,000 SF of exterior site disturbance.

Format of Review

Each review session lasts for 45 minutes in accordance with the format that follows:

First 15 minutes: Design team presents the project to the Board.

Next 15 minutes: Q&A for clarification on design elements.

Next 10 minutes: Public comment is heard and recorded into the meeting record.

Next 5 minutes: DRB communicates its summary points to the design team.

  • The design team has the opportunity to ask for clarification of any of the points but not to debate the merits of any of the recommendations from the DRB.
  • As feasible, all areas of disagreement with the DRB commentary from the design teams, should be discussed and resolved with the University Architect.
  • If unresolved issues remain, the project recommendations may be appealed to the UW-Madison City of Madison Plan Commission for review and a final recommendation.
  • If, as the result of an appeal, the DRB finds that design guidelines or review criteria need to be revised, such revisions shall be recommended for consideration to the CPC and the Urban Design Commission.

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Pre-Design Phase (Feasibility, Fundraising, Planning Studies)

During the final draft planning stage, or as directed by the DRB chair or by the AVC, the project should be reviewed by the DRB.

Materials that the Design Team should provide by for this review include:

  • Description slide. Advanced Plan goals, program, schedule, budget and brief narrative description of project.
  • Map or aerial photo of district in which the project is located.
  • Site context plan or plans, showing vicinity of at least one block in each direction as well as location of existing roads, walks, landscape elements, etc.
  • Photos of existing building exteriors on the project site and adjacent to the project area.
  • Copy of the approved Campus Master Plan for the project site area to show relationship of the proposed project indicated conformance and/or non-conformance.
  • General site analysis about the existing site including pedestrian/vehicular/service access and major utility conflicts/potential upgrades (if known).
  • General site analysis of the improved site and how the proposed development addresses sustainability, including but not limited to stormwater, open space, energy usage, first floor engagement, heat island impacts, etc.
  • If project Pre-Design Plan includes vignettes or suggested building massing or materials include those for initial review and comment by the DRB with the understanding that final design and materials for the actual project will come later in the design review process.

Preliminary Design or Conceptual Phase (10% Design)

This review may take place during programming or earlier, but is likely to occur before any drawing has been done.

Materials that the Design Team should provide by for this review include:

  • Description slide. Building goals, program, schedule, budget and brief narrative description of project.
  • Map or aerial photo of district in which the project is located
  • Site context plan or plans, showing vicinity of at least one block in each direction, with entry or grade level plans of each adjacent building. Plans should include dimensions, existing grading as well as location of existing roads, walks, landscape elements, etc.
  • Scaled bubble diagrams or initial massing diagrams that describe the basic programmatic elements of the building.
  • Design and Development guidelines graphics and text from appropriate planning studies
  • Photographs of adjacent buildings.

Many of the elements required to generate these materials are available from various University departments. Contacts will be provided by the Project Manager.

Key discussion points at this phase of review may include, but are not limited to:

  • Analysis of master plan documents (including other planning studies) for the area in which the project is located
  • Analysis of vehicular and pedestrian circulation patterns in the area
  • Analysis of architectural context, including scale, detail and materials of existing adjacent buildings
  • Discussion of potential relationships between site, and adjacent and campus-wide open space systems
  • Discussion of program opportunities such as:
  • Location and organization of interior public spaces
  • Program elements that should or could benefit from a relationship to exterior spaces
  • Possible/desired entrance locations

Design Development Phase (85% Design)

Design Development review will focus on refinements of the conceptual design, especially materials selection and ideas for detailing. Material selections need not be final, and may include presentation of options and alternatives.

Materials which should be provided by the design team for this review include:

  • Description slide. Building goals, program, schedule, budget and brief narrative description of project.
  • Three dimensional studies (physical model or 3D drawing) of proposed building, showing refinement of massing and scale concepts, and indicating material and color suggestions.
  • Develop landscape plan indicating character of all outdoor spaces, including topography, plant material suggestions, hard surface material suggestions, and photographs or drawings of suggested site furnishings and amenities.
  • Floor plans showing refinement of relationship between programmed spaces, particularly entrances, lobbies, general assignment classroom and other shared or public spaces.
  • Proposed entry or ground level plan should be shown in site context plan with landscape design, and entry or ground level floor plans of adjacent buildings.
  • Building sections showing scale and vertical relationship of spaces.
  • Elevations, showing material suggestions and preliminary detailing ideas, as well as location and proportions of windows, doors and other openings.
  • Material samples for building exterior and site.

Key discussion points at the phase of review may include, but are not limited to:

  • Review of recommendations from previous phase and whether these have been addressed successfully or not.
  • Continued discussion of massing and scale of building.
  • Landscape design including overall character of space, plant suggestions, materials and furnishings, and continued discussion of relationship of site design and organization to larger campus systems.
  • Continued discussion of relationships of major public and shared interior spaces to site and larger campus context.
  • Continued discussion of relationship of public versus private zones of building and the relationship of these zones to the surrounding site and buildings.
  • Continued discussion of scale and vertical relationship of major public or shared interior spaces .
  • Selection, use and mix of building and site materials and preliminary detailing.

Further Review

Occasionally, it may be necessary for the DRB to review a project beyond the typical three reviews. In this case, every effort will be made to expedite review, including holding an “in town” members only meeting. For state administered projects, the DRB may also refer outstanding design issues to the DSF for follow-up during its peer review.

Some reasons why an additional review may be required:

  • Design team did not provide adequate materials or was not prepared to discuss typical key points at one of the previous reviews.
  • Remaining unresolved issues or areas of disagreement regarding recommendations from previous reviews.
  • Significant changes in the scope of design of a project after the final review has been completed.
  • Mutual agreement by all stakeholders that additional review is necessary and desired.