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Design Excellence Initiative

Design Excellence Initiative

What is the Design Excellence Initiative (DEI)?

The Design Excellence Initiative was created in Sept. 16, 2014 by a council motion that directed staff to provide recommendations to help increase the predictability of the discretionary review process, improve the public realm and lead to the design of better buildings.

What were the study recommendations?

On Jan. 15, 2015, Dover Kohl & Partners (the firm hired by the city to provide consulting services for the Design Excellence Initiative) provided recommendations pdf for short- and long-term actions the city should undertake to address concerns with design outcomes. The key components of the recommendations included:

  • Putting a hold on height modifications in all areas except those that have established community vision until a clear guidance is confirmed through policy revisions;
  • Piloting a form-based code as a new tool to improve design outcomes and to create more predictability;
  • Applying a form-based code to other areas, once detailed plans for those areas are created; and
  • Reforming the city’s development review procedures and Site Review criteria.

What efforts are included in the DEI?

What is the progress on the DEI?

Design Excellence Initiative Projects

Tours and Outreach

November 2017 - Commons Tour

Planning Board and Design Advisory Board tour of 2440 Junction Place, Boulder CO

2015 Downtown Design Tour

Council, Planning Board, Design Advisory Board, and public tour of several downtown buildings including: 1301 Walnut,  1707 Walnut, 1738 Pearl, and 901 Pearl

2014 Downtown Design Tour

 Tour with Victor Dover of 5 developments including: Two Nine North, 1600 Pearl Building, 910 & 950 28th St., and Solana Apartments.

December 2014 - Visual Preference Workshop

This workshop with Victor Dover kicked off a broader discussion on what is working and what is not working with our land use and design policies and procedures by evaluating developments that resulted from land use policies implemented by the City over that last decade. 

Channel 8 Design Excellence Videos

Design Excellence Videos

City of Boulder - Form Based Codes

May 15, 2015 - Victor Dover discussed form based codes.

Design Excellence Forum

Design Excellence Forum

Inside Boulder News - Design Excellence Forum

This video is a segment from the December 12, 2014 episode of Inside Boulder. For more Inside Boulder visit

Inside Boulder News - Design Excellence Forum

This video is a segment from the December 5, 2014 episode of Inside Boulder. For more Inside Boulder visit

Design Excellence Initiative in Boulder

This video is a segment from the November 14, 2014 episode of Inside Boulder. It is a discussion about design and development issues in Boulder. For more Inside Boulder visit

Inside Boulder News - City Council Design Excellence Tour

This is a video segment from the October 10, 2014 episode of Inside Boulder News. For more videos, visit:


Questions or comments? Email us:

Charles Ferro - [email protected]

Kalani Pahoa - [email protected]