Save Richmond's City Old and Historic Districts

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    Commission Of Architectural Review Task Force
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We, the undersigned, believe that the Old & Historic Districts of Richmond, Virginia Handbook and Design Review Guidelines must be revised to ensure that new construction of additions, alterations and infill reflect and relate to the context in which they are located. As currently interpreted and applied by the Commission of Architectural Review, the guidelines undermine the original intent behind the creation in 1957 of the City of Richmond Old & Historic Districts, which is to protect and preserve the historic resources in these districts. Specifically, by prioritizing differentiation at the expense of compatibility, the CAR ensures additions and infill that are in obvious opposition to their historic settings.

We request that the Commission of Architectural Review Task Force amend the handbook and guidelines by removing Article 2 under Form in the New Construction section, page 42, which states: New construction should be contemporary in style, yet compatible with surrounding historic structures. New construction should not mimic previous architectural styles in such a way that creates a false historical appearance.

We also request the removal of any other language within the guidelines that include the words or phrases: mimic, contemporary, false historicism, false historic appearance that are used to mandate that new construction should differentiate from existing historic structures in the Old and Historic Districts.

Article 2 should be replaced with language that calls for new construction of alterations, additions and infill to 1) reinforce and support the historic context; 2) blend in, rather than stand out; and 3) not introduce features uncharacteristic of the historic district.

Prioritizing compatibility over differentiation will promote architectural harmony and wholeness within the district and allow buildings and districts to evolve in accordance with their historic patterns and styles. The ultimate goal is to ensure continuity of character over time.