Criteria for New Development

The amount of new development within the Historic District is small when compared to the volume of rehabilitation activity. Still, there are numerous opportunities for new construction within this built environment. While design criteria does not dictate that any style of architecture be favored over another, the importance of context cannot be overstated. There is a thread of continuity on most City streets where the existing structures dictate certain elements of design and set the tone for subsequent construction. The height and mass of a new building, for example, should be consistent with its neighbors. Other critical elements to be considered are such things as setbacks from the street, the rhythm of windows, and even available open space.

To ensure citizens understand how new construction should occur in the Historic District, the following criteria identifies what the City wants to protect. As with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation of existing buildings, these new construction standards do not get into the minutae of paint color or door hardware. Instead, they are meant to encourage creativity and innovation by defining the more fundamental issues of a community's composition and scale with which a property owner or builder should be familiar. In this manner, new buildings will readily become a part of the community's continuing history.

Height - This criteria specifies that a new building's height should relate to the average height of existing adjacent structures. New buildings should have the same number of stories as neighboring buildings and as a general rule should not vary more than ten percent in height. 

Proportion of a building's front facade - The measured relationship between the width and height of a building's front elevation should be compatible with its neighbor's. If a new building will be larger than the width of adjacent buildings, consideration should be given to dividing its facade to ensure this compatibility. 

Proportion of openings within the facade - The size and proportion (ratio of width to height) of windows and doors should be similar to the openings of neighboring buildings. The upper floor windows in much of Fredericksburg's downtown area, for example, are more vertical in configuration while the storefronts are usually more horizontal. 

Relationship of solids to voids - The rhythm of building mass to its openings should be compatible with surrounding facades. The Historic District's structures typically have more wall area than voids. 

Building spacing - New buildings should be sited to maintain the rhythm of recurrent building masses and the spaces between them as much as possible. The City's Zoning Ordinance provides for infill development setbacks that are the average of neighboring properties. 

Relationship of entrance and porch projections - The entrances onto the sidewalk impart a pattern that should be maintained, as applicable. 

Relationship of materials - The predominant building material within an area - whether brick, stone, wood, or other material - should be incorporated, as practicable, when new construction occurs. 

Relationship of textures - Textures can be brick, wood siding, or other material. Infill buildings should be made compatible with their surroundings, although the careful introduction of new materials is consistent with historic preservation goals to make visible the process of change. 

Relationship of architectural details - The architectural details of new buildings - such as cornices, lintels, arches, iron work, chimneys, etc. - should relate to neighboring buildings. New buildings that do not relate to Fredericksburg building traditions should be avoided. 

Roof shapes - The type, shape, and material of a new building's roof should complement the roofs of neighboring structures. 


Walls of continuity - Physical features - such as buildings, fences, and walls - form a continuous cohesive wall along a street front. New construction should respect this continuity. 

Landscaping - Infill development should incorporate compatible landscaping if there exists a pattern of mass and continuity in streetscape's vegetation. 

Scale - The size of new construction and its architectural detail should relate to the scale of construction already established. A building's mass and its relationship to open space are also determinants of scale. 

Directional expression of front elevation - A structure's shape, placement of openings, and architectural details provide its directional expressions, whether horizontal, vertical, or non-directional. This characteristic of new construction should be compatible with neighboring buildings. 

Appropriateness of the new structure to its historic setting - Fredericksburg includes a great many architectural styles related to several periods of construction. New construction should follow these established guidelines, but should not introduce something that is out of context. A New England saltbox dwelling, for example, could be constructed to meet all of these established criteria yet would still be incongruous in this Virginia town on the Rappahannock.
















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