Urban Design & Architecture Review Panel (UDARP)
The Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel’s goal is to achieve the highest quality for the planned and built environment of Baltimore City by providing the Planning Commission and the Department of Planning with design review expertise in the areas of urban design, architecture, and landscape design for all proposed master planning efforts and significant development projects.
UDARP’s mission attests to its critical importance within the Department of Planning’s design review process. This review process entails presentation interactions between Department staff, the Panel and the professional architects and landscape architects representing project development teams and leads to departmental approvals. The Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel advises the Department of Planning, the Planning Commission and other City agencies on matters of urban design, architecture and landscape architecture and are professional staff of the Department of Planning. Specifically, the Panel is empowered to provide review and professional design assistance of signature sites, significant projects that are proposed in renewal and/or conservation areas, planned unit developments (PUD), and master plans. City sponsored projects and those in which the City is providing financial or legislative support may be required to have Panel review. Additionally, projects that require zoning changes or variances and/or Planning Commission final design approval may be reviewed by the Panel.
The genesis of the Urban Design and Architectural Review Panel began in 1964 under the Baltimore Urban Renewal and Housing Agency (BURHA), the predecessor to the City’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). In 1997, the Panel was brought to the Department of Planning. Throughout its history, the Panel has helped the City to achieve its national recognition for the high quality of design that public and private development have brought to Baltimore.
The Panel is comprised of six individuals who bring expertise in various aspects of architectural, urban, and landscape design. Members are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Director of Planning. They are compensated on a per meeting basis and serve staggered terms. Members are not allowed to provide comment on projects for which they may have a perceived or real conflict of interest. Regular attendance is required of all Panel members. The Director of the Department of Planning, the President of The Baltimore Development Corporation, and the Commissioner of the Department of Housing and Community Development may participate on the Panel as ex officio members.
All proposed development projects in Baltimore City that require Department of Planning Site Plan Review also require design review. At a pre-development meeting, Department staff shall determine the extent of review that will be required. All projects will require at the minimum staff review. Significant development projects will additionally require UDARP review. There are two official stages of Panel review – Schematic and Final. These reviews coincide with the typical stages of development that design professionals follow through project design. Each stage requires the Panel’s approval before the next stage of design development should be undertaken. Minutes are sent to the development team after each presentation and response to Panel comments is a requirement for the following presentation. Agendas for upcoming meetings are e-mailed a week in advance to interested parties and posted on the Department of Planning’s web page.
While attendance is open to the public and members of the press, their attendance is to observe. If a stakeholder group would like to advise the Panel of their concerns, it is encouraged to submit a written statement in advance of the meeting date for its timely distribution to Panel members. At the Panel’s discretion, attending observers may be
recognized to make a brief statement related to design issues only.
The following format for the Panel presentations is recommended to ensure a complete and concise review within the typically allotted 60 minute review period. Special presentations of City owned properties or projects of significant size and scale may be allotted additional time:
- Introduction of development team and project by the developer or team leader.
- Project context presented by team leader. (5 minutes)
- Project proposal presentation by team architect(s) and landscape architect(s).
- Questions and comments from the Panel (20 minutes)
- Panel discussion and final recommendations. (15 minutes)
The following requirements and guidelines will ensure that the development team understands the various review phases. Projects do not move forward from one stage of the review to the next phase until Panel approval is received. The Department of Planning staff is available to assist with any questions or comments about Panel guidelines or policy. Failure to provide adequate submission material will result in the loss of opportunity to present to the Panel or withheld approval.