Downtown Design Guidelines and Architectural Standards

Update to the Downtown Design Guidelines and Standards


In 2012, the City contracted with Winter & Company to develop and adopt Downtown Design Guidelines and Architectural Standards to regulate the look and feel of new buildings in the downtown area. As presented in 2012, the purpose of the design standards was "to enhance the effectiveness of the Smartcode in downtown by adding context-sensitive design standards, supplemented with design guidelines for special cases, and revising the signage standards for the downtown area." The standards and guidelines adopted in 2012 were carried over into the new San Marcos Development Code in 2018 and into Appendix A of the San Marcos Design Manual. Both standards and guidelines are utilized when reviewing new development in the downtown area.

2020 Update

In January, 2020, the San Marcos City Council provided direction to update the design standards and guidelines using the guidance of the previous consultants, Winter & Company. The update to the design standards and guidelines is intended to include new standards to address design issues, new graphics to clearly illustrate the standards and guidelines, and shall be tailored to various contexts within downtown.
Design Contexts Map
Key topics to be addressed include:
  • Massing of larger buildings to promote compatibility with traditional scale of downtown;
  • Variety in articulation of facades to be more in scale with design traditions;
  • Treatment of building materials;
  • Street level design to provide sense of place and activate the public realm; and
  • Transitions from higher density zones to abutting sensitive edges.

Upcoming Stakeholder Meetings

As part of the update to the downtown design guidelines and standards, the city and consultants, Winter and Company, are hosting three stakeholder meetings to discuss the vision for future design in the downtown area as follows:

  • Downtown Design Stakeholder Meeting: Historic Preservation Commission and Heritage Association Officers, Wednesday, April 15, 2020 from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m, hosted online.
  • Downtown Design Stakeholder Meeting: Main Street Advisory Board, Thursday, April 16, 2020 from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m., hosted online.
  • Downtown Design Stakeholder Meeting: Downtown Association Board, Thursday, April 16, 2020 from 2 p.m. – 3 p.m., hosted online.

For the safety of all residents amidst COVID-19, these meetings will be hosted as an online interactive virtual meeting. Prior to the virtual meeting, a link to the meeting will be posted on this page to allow the public a chance to listen to the discussion. For more information or questions, please contact the Planning and Development Services Department at 512.393.8230.