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SDesign GuidelinesS

Main Street Dodge City 311 W. Spruce, P.O. Box 818 Dodge City, KS 67801

STable of Contents S Introduction............................................................................ 1 Main Street Dodge City Boundary Map..................... 1 Front Facades........................................................................ 2 Upper Facades............................................................ 2 Storefronts.................................................................. 3 Doors and Entries....................................................... 4 Walls............................................................................ 4 Building Detail, Decoration and Cornices................. 5 Paint Schemes and Color Palette............................... 6 Awnings....................................................................... 7 Surface Cleaning and Paint Removal........................ 8 Window Displays......................................................... 9 Maintenance................................................................ 9 Rear Facades.......................................................................... 10 Business Signs........................................................................ 11 New Buildings........................................................................ 13 Public Spaces.......................................................................... 14 Lighting........................................................................ 14 Street Furniture.......................................................... 15 Vegetation.................................................................... 15 Open Spaces................................................................. 16

Acknowledgments This document is compiled from information and illustrations provided by Kansas Main Street, Kansas Department of Commerce, Bruce McMillen AIA, Architects,P.A., and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


The following design manual is devoted to the design aspects of the Main Street Approach. Downtowns that have well designed public spaces and buildings with historic downtown character are attractive and pleasant places to be. It is a pleasure to shop, stroll along the sidewalks, relax on benches and watch the surrounding activities, have a snack at a sidewalk cafe, meet friends for a meal, and be entertained in a downtown that is beautiful and well-maintained. In the last twenty years there have been several studies done that show investment in the appearance or design of downtowns and the businesses within those downtowns is economically rewarding to the businesses and property owners. These studies prove that good design is good business. Following are basic design principles that have proven to be appropriate to downtown revitalization through the Main Street Approach.

 Appreciate what already exists and retain original building materials.  Be true to the style of the building.  Don’t try to create something that never was.

 Good design can exist in any era.  Downtowns were built over time and therefore should not be restored to a specific era or style.  Design with compatibility to neighboring buildings.  Always strive for quality results.  Design changes should be economically feasible. The ultimate responsibility for the application of these design guidelines and their interpretations rests with the individual property owners and downtown business owners. For further explanation and guidance on any of the following design principles, contact the Main Street Dodge City office for further assistance. Please note that structures participating in the Dodge City Downtown Historic District must also comply with State Historical Guidelines as well. For more information on these guidelines, please contact Dennis Veatch at (620) 225-8105.

Main Street Program Area

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SFront Facades S Most facades downtown are two stories high, with commercial space located at ground level and offices or storage above. Visually, the arrangement divides the facade into two basic parts: the upper facade which is usually a flat masonry wall with regular spaced window openings and applied decoration, and the storefront, or lower facade, which is composed primarily of large display windows and the entry. Unfortunately, the storefronts have usually been changed drastically as they were “modernized.” The end products of such modernizations have frequently been out of scale with the entire building and incompatible with the original facade material remaining. Some building facades, on the other hand, have fared better and have escaped inappropriate modernization. In this latter case, the original facade should be preserved and repaired with little or no further alterations. Where the original facade is covered up, or no longer existent, an improvement should respect the documented historic character of the building as well as its neighbors. CAP

Upper Facades

From a distance, the image of the front facade is heavily influenced by its upperstory appearance. Typically, the windows in the upper facades are positioned at regular intervals to establish visual rhythm for the exterior design of the building. Their shape, size, placement, and decorative trim constitute a major element in creating the character of the building and contribute to many important esthetic principles. The window openings, along with the material, color, and texture of the wall surface contribute to the overall visual character of the street. Considerations:  Screens, boards and other inappropriate materials covering upper facades and windows should be removed.  If the original window openings have been altered, restore them to their original configuration and detail. Avoid blocking window openings.






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 If possible, save and restore the original windows and frames. Replace missing, rotting or broken sash, frames, mullion, etc. with similar material.  Where clear aluminum frames have previously replaced the traditional frames, they should be painted.  If a new interior ceiling must be dropped below the height of existing window openings, a recessed setback or similar device should be used to allow the full opening to be retained without alteration of exterior appearance.

 Insulating storm windows can help conserve heat and energy, but often look wrong on an older facade. Consider installing them on the inside of the window STORE SIGNAGE where they won’t be seen. If they are installed on the outside, PROTECTED ENTRY their design should match the existing DISPLAY WINDOWS window in shape, number and size of panes and color. PLANTERS

 Avoid through-wall or through-window heating/ air conditioning units.  Avoid mirrored or tinted glass. Replacement glass should be similar to the original.  Avoid the use of shutters except where clear evidence indicates their historic presence. If shutters are used, they should be functional.  Avoid storing material directly in front of windows. Wash upper story windows regularly and install curtains or other suitable devices to give a “lived-in” appearance.

Storefronts Most problems with storefronts today are because they no longer look like an integral part of the building; rather they appear pasted on and do not reinforce the character of the entire facade. If wishing to restore the original storefront, a little research can be invaluable. Considerations:  Storefronts should be designed to fit within the opening originally intended for it and not extend beyond it.  Where storefronts have been covered up

with incompatible material, they should be revitalized by removing the covering material. Avoid use of unpainted aluminum, imitation masonry, fake shutters and other incompatible materials in revitalizing storefronts.  Use simple and unobtrusive materials in revitalizing storefronts. Avoid patterns, textures or colors which are not appropriate to the character and function of the storefront.  Where the original storefront remains, it should be preserved and repaired with as little alteration as possible.  If restoration of the original storefront is undertaken, it should be based on accurate duplication of features backed up by historical, physical or pictorial evidence.  Avoid historically incorrect “revival” architecture.  Avoid the use of mirrored or tinted glass.  Avoid bare aluminum window frames. If existing aluminum frames are to be retained, they should be painted.

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Doors and Entries Historically, the storefront entry was more than just a door. Its design and appearance reflected its commercial importance and the idea of making the front door special is something that should still be remembered today. Entering the store should be a pleasant experience that makes customers feel invited as they approach and open the door. Considerations:  The front door should be compatible with the rest of the storefront. It should be significant but not outspoken.

 Avoid over decorating the entry door. Most fake “historic” doors are decorated with designs, moldings, and window grills that look residential, and thus out of place on Main Street.

Walls The texture and color of brick and limestone walls are among the most dominant visual features in the downtown area. They are an integral part of the visual character of downtown, and as such should be restored and enhanced by uncovering, maintaining and preserving them in the appropriate manner.

 If the storefront retains its original character, a traditional wood door with a glass panel (as tall as possible) will reinforce the building’s design.

Many of the original walls have been covered up with aluminum and plastic, or scarred and obscured with large, out-of-scale signs. The end result of such “modernizations” are building walls which are out of character  If traditional appearance is not a concern, try with other details of the building, and with choosing a door based on the total design of the the downtown as a whole. In addition, these storefront. Many door sizes and designs are “modernizations” have made it so that the available in both wood and metal. If choosing historic and architectural individuality of the a standard aluminum and glass door, consider downtown buildings are obscured. a dark, anodized finish rather than a light, metallic color. Considerations:  Original building wall material should not be covered with any form of inappropriate siding. Where this has already occurred, the inappropriate siding should be removed and the original wall material restored.  Wall surfaces that have not been painted should remain unpainted.  Damaged walls should be repaired or replaced with material which duplicates the original as closely as possible.  Avoid scarring walls with holes for attaching signs, etc.

Above are different door designs appropriate for downtown.

 Avoid removing wall materials and features that are essential parts of the building’s character.

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Building Detail, Decoration and Cornice

 Heavy or numerous amounts of paint that obscure architectural decorations and details should be removed before repainting.

Certainly one of the most striking aspects of the traditional facade is its eye catching detail. Historically, decoration was freely used to embellish the facade. Often, today, only the decoration of the upper facade remains. Yet even in this incomplete state, details should be preserved.

 When replacing or repairing masonry details, decorations or cornices, care should be taken to prevent an obvious and unsightly patch. Materials, joints, etc. should match the original as closely as possible in composition, color, and texture.

Much of a downtown’s visual character rests in its architectural detailing. One might think of a decoration as an antique. It is a blend of architecture and sculpture, an example of craftsmanship that is hard to find today. Considerations:  Deteriorated details, decorations, and cornices should be repaired rather than replaced whenever possible. In the event replacement is necessary, the new material should match the original material in composition, design, color and texture. Repair or replacement of missing architectural decorations and details should be based on accurate duplications, backed up by historical, physical, or pictorial evidence rather than on conjectural design.

 Corbelling should be retained and restored whenever possible.  Soft, dry, or split areas in wood surfaces should be filled, caulked, primed, and painted or stained to match the original.  Where the original cornice has been removed or altered, it should be replaced or restored with a duplication of the original. Where this is not possible, a simplified version of the original should be designed.  The addition of fake “historic” decorations to make a facade look “old” is not recommended. This will inevitably cheapen the quality of the facade.




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Paint Schemes and Color Palette Painting can be one of the most dramatic improvements made to a building. Attention should be given not only to selection of appropriate colors, but also to the preparation of surfaces, choice of paint type, (oil, latex base, or stain), and finish, (gloss, semi-gloss, or matte.) Considerations: Determine what needs to be done before painting. Check all surfaces and repair or replace any damaged areas that are found. If it is a masonry building, first check the mortar and do any repointing that needs done first.  Color applied to side and rear walls should avoid harsh shifts from that on front walls. A building should be visually consistent on all sides.  When repainting, consider using the original painting scheme and color palette.  Color should be used to tie building elements, such as details, decorations, cornices, signs and storefronts together. This is usually most successful when a maximum of three colors is used.  The color palette should be consistent throughout both the upper and lower portions of the building’s front facade  Color palettes and paint schemes on adjoining buildings should be compatible.  Normally, the previous paint type, (oil or latex base), should be used in repainting. Generally, use of oil base paint for wood and latex base paint for masonry.  Avoid the use of bright primary colors and very dark color which are usually incompatible with the building’s downtown. Bright colors are also highly susceptible to fading.

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Awnings An awning or canopy can be both a decorative and functional addition to the storefront. It serves as an energy saver by regulating the amount of sunlight that enters your window. Shaded by an awning or canopy, shoppers are enticed to stop, look and step inside. Considerations:  Cloth or canvas awnings were traditional on most buildings downtown. Consider box awnings on the upper facade windows and slanted awnings on the storefronts. When canvas awnings are used on both upper and lower facades, they should be of compatible color, materials and design.


 The color of all awnings should compliment the building. When a building contains more then one storefront, each with a different awning color, the colors should be related.  If signs are incorporated into an awning, the message should be simple and directed towards identification.


 Avoid materials, colors and designs which detract from the character of the building.  Avoid stock, unpainted metal awnings which are inappropriately related to the character of the building. OPEN SIDED WITH VALANCE






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Surface Cleaning and Paint Removal Cleaning the exterior facades is one way to bring new life to the appearance of a building. There are also functional reasons for cleaning, particularly masonry surfaces. Dirt on bricks or stone when combined with water will accelerate masonry deterioration. Cleaning should always be done in the least abrasive manner possible. Improper cleaning and paint removal can also result in the acceleration of the deterioration of the exterior material. Considerations:  Water or steam cleaning is usually the safest method by which to clean buildings. A low pressure water or steam method, when accompanied by manual scrubbing and a mild cleanser, will cause the least damage.

 Paint may be removed with water rinseable alkali and solvent-based chemicals applied by brush and removed with medium water pressure or steam spray. Test the chemical reaction of paint removal materials on surfaces before proceeding.  Avoid cleaning or paint removal by blasting with sand, grit, chips, shells, beads or other abrasive substances. Blasting will erode surfaces and remove details and my accelerate the deterioration of the materials.  Avoid using chemicals which adversely affect the building materials.  Avoid wet cleaning when frost is expected.


 Be sure to choose the right king of chemical for the building. Acidic products, for example, should never be used on limestone or marble buildings. When the building is rinsed, make certain all the chemical is washed off.



 If a brick facade was originally painted, a soft brick was probably used in construction. These surfaces should remain painted.







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Window Displays Window displays should be an attractive part of your storefront, creating an effective pedestrian-level sign. Well designed displays help draw customers into the store. However, creating a window display that really works for businesses takes a little thought and effort. Considerations:  Window displays should attractively exhibit products in simple, but interesting ways. Think of the display window as a large picture framed by the storefront. Step back and observe how they relate. The building and window should create a single unit that is complimented by the display in color and proportion.


 An attractive, well-lit display can entice night time window shoppers to return during business hours. Incandescent spot lighting, mounting on ceiling racks or recessed into the ceiling, can effectively highlight products as well as provide adequate overall lighting. Consider using halogen bulbs, which although more expensive than incandescent bulbs, last longer and use smaller fixtures. A well-lit window display also improves public safety by lighting the sidewalk and allowing police to see inside the store at night.  Avoid using window space to stock or store extra merchandise.  Avoid inappropriate signs which detract from the products being displayed and the building itself.  Update displays monthly or seasonally. It is better to rotate the inventory monthly, than crowding the whole season at one time for the length of the season.  Keep windows and display areas clean and well tended. Dirty or messy windows and displays detract from what is trying to be sold.



Maintenance All buildings require periodic maintenance, yet many buildings in the downtown area have been allowed to deteriorate over the years. Many times, new life and vitality can be brought to a building by performing simple, routine maintenance. The quality of maintenance of a building is a subtle signal telling a customer something about how much a particular owner or merchant cares about his or her building, business, and customer. Every visible exterior aspect of a building should be examined periodically for maintenance needs.

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SRear FacadesS The rear facades of buildings are often a neglected and forgotten resource downtown. The rear facades, along with the alleys, offer to many buildings potential customers as well as service entries. By being able to enter directly from a parking lot, via an attractive entry, the customer is made to feel welcomed. The visibility of the rear facade from the alley increases the need to revitalize these surfaces. Like the storefront, the rear entry requires identification and should be made attractive and inviting. This does not, however, imply an elaborate or expensive undertaking. Rather, since the rears of buildings are usually plain and unadorned, the revitalization can be undertaken in a simple, straight forward manner. In general, the same recommendations apply to the rear as to the front facades.




As parking areas are being developed behind buildings, backs of the buildings are coming into full and open view.

Considerations: ď ´ Original doors or window openings which are now blocked should be reopened to their original dimensions and filled with appropriate doors or windows. ď ´ Compatible windows should be provide at ground level. ď ´ An appropriate sign should be installed to identify the business on or near the entry. Service entries should be clearly marked to avoid confusion.

With good design and proper maintenance, rear entrances can become attractive and convenient for Main Street shoppers.

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SBusiness SignsS Signs are a vital part of any Main Street. They call attention to the business and creates an individual image. However, it is often forgotten that signs contribute to a commercial district’s overall image as well.

can also make attractive window and door signs. Quality of design, workmanship, and construction are vital to the success of the sign and its advertised business. Signs on awnings and banners can be viable solutions as well to providing identification for a business. Considering the cost as well as the life span of modern fabrics used for banners and fabric awnings, these signs can provide effective and long lasting advertising. Signs attached or incorporated into most permanent types of awning materials can also be effective communicators.

The main purpose of the business sign is to locate the store for the customer. Common problems with many signs downtown are the excessive size and inappropriate placement on buildings. Large, flashy signs may be appropriate for the highway strip, but are out of place in the pedestrian-scaled downtown. These signs produce visual clutter and tend to cancel each other out. As a visual element, each business sign should enhance the image of All together, if Main Street is to present a the entire downtown as well as the individual harmonious appearance, its signs must adhere business. to the image of the individual businesses as well as the overall district. Consider the Many existing signs downtown do not respect following guidelines when designing business the area’s character. For example, large signs: vacuum-formed, internally lit signs pay no attention to local tradition, relate poorly to Considerations: the character of downtown, and detract from  Decide where to put the sign. There are its inherent quality and image. These signs, several suitable options including: under the or other types of mass produced national storefront cornice, painted on glass, on the side advertising, also shift the emphasis away from of the building, projecting from the building, local, personal service and ownership. on the awning valance or return, and on the canopy facia. Some types of signs are not The location and size of signs on any building appropriate, such as signs made of vacuumshould relate to the architectural character formed plastic or oversized signs placed on of that particular structure. A sign should top of the building or applied over the upper never be so large as to over power a facade, facade. nor obscure a building’s architectural features. Usually, the sign and the building’s facade should work together to advertise the business. A sign will effectively communicate its message if it is compatible with its surroundings. Window and doors signs can also be convenient ways of providing pedestrian-scaled signs downtown. Permanent window and door signs are usually painted on glass or constructed of applied vinyl letters. Gold-leaf or neon

Proper signage can becomes a business’s best advertising.

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 Think about the type of sign to use. Word signs employ words to describe the business and its products. Often, a recognizable symbol can also convey the image of a business better than words. Some signs, on the other hand, use numbers instead of symbols or words; the most common of these are street address signs that help customers locate the business. Many choose to combine words, symbols and numbers all in the same sign.  Decide how much the sign will say. It is important to keep the message simple and to the point. Remember, the sign will be viewed as part of a very complex environment filled with written and visual messages.  Visualize how the sign will appear in relation to the entire facade. The sign should not dominate; its shape and proportions should fit the building in the same way a window or door fits.  Express the personality of the establishment through the type style that is selected. To learn about various styles, look at other signs around town. Think about what each style says about the business and product it advertises. Then, define the image the sign is to project. There are three basic styles of type, serif, sans serif and script, with numerous variations of each. Ask local sign makers to show a selection of type styles and consult the local Main Street Dodge City office with any questions.  Lighting is also important. If illuminating the sign at night, the light source should be as inconspicuous as possible. Signs can be illuminated with incandescent, fluorescent, or halogen lights. Try to avoid obtrusive or gaudy lighting techniques that merely distract attention from the sign.  The use of logos should never be a problem. There is always a way to design with an existing logo, either by color choice or by presentation to help fit it within the guidelines.

 Quality of workmanship and construction is also a vital consideration. A simple, well-made sign speaks more highly of the establishment than an extravagant, but poorly designed sign.  Signs provide by national distributors are not appropriate. They don’t reflect the individuality of the business and usually appear as add-ons to the storefront advertising. The signs on display should advertise the personal business message. Also try avoiding flashing and moving signs and signs mounted on the roof.  Window and door signs should be applied so that they do no obscure visibility.  Permanent window and door signs should usually not occupy more than 25% of the total glass area on which they are displayed. Such signs should compliment other signs on the facade.  Signs on awnings should be color coordinated with the sign or awning and the rest of the building’s facade and should be located on the vertical portion of the awning for maximum visibility.

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SNew Buildings S

Construction of new buildings on vacant lots downtown should be encouraged. New buildings should strive for excellence in design whether small, individual infill construction within the existing downtown blocks, or larger, independently sited projects. Located within the context of an existing architectural setting, the design of new buildings should respond positively to the physical character of the downtown; both the buildings and the landscape. Since a good new design which responds positively to its surrounds can be done in a number of ways, it is not possible to develop specific interpretations which will apply in all cases. Every site has its own design opportunities. However, as a guide, the recommendations below should be followed: Recommendations:  Buildings in traditional commercial districts share a similar height. Infill construction should respect this. A new facade that is too high or low can interrupt this consistent quality.  The infill building should reflect the characteristic rhythm of the facades along the street. If the site is large, the mass of the facade can be divided into a number of small bays.

 The characteristic proportion (the relationship between height and width) of existing facades should be respected.  The new facade’s relationship to the street (called the “setback”) should be consistent with that of its neighboring buildings.  The form of the roof and building cornice should be similar to those on adjacent structures. On Main Street, this usually means a flat roof hidden behind a cornice.  Rhythms that carry throughout the block (such as window spacing) should be incorporated into the new facade.  The size and proportion of window and door openings should be similar to those on surrounding facades. The same applies to the ratio of window area to solid wall for the facade as a whole.  An infill facade should be composed of materials that complement adjacent facades. The new building should not stand out against others.  The colors chosen for an infill facade should tie to its neighbors. THIS








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SPublic Spaces S The public space in historic commercial districts is composed of many elements that work together to support the activities of downtown businesses. These elements include parking, open space and the “streetscape.” Streetscape is a term used to describe the collection of sidewalks, curbs, lights, trash receptacles, signs, benches, vegetation, banners, etc., that fill the pedestrian area between streets and buildings. Improvements to the publics spaces in the downtown area are essential to the commitments in investments in facade improvements made by individual property owners and merchants. These improvements are also essential if the development of a positive image for the downtown area is to be genuine and sustainable. The following recommendations represent ways of giving the pedestrian priority downtown, a key factor in improving the shopping environment.

Lighting Lighting is a critical aspect of the streetscape. Lighting for pedestrians proves a sense of



safety and warmth. By the early twentieth century, most downtowns had street lights that are located on cast-iron poles slightly taller than an average man. These antique lamp posts were often replaced in the mid-twentieth century with taller street lights intended to light the street and the sidewalks. It is a trend now to remove the taller mid-century street lights and install lights similar to those from earlier in that century. Lighting design should be based on what needs to be lighted, what quality the light should have (diffuse or direct), what color the light should be, and what the light source looks like. Considerations:  There are several types of lighting appropriate in streetscape improvements. Street lighting is used to illuminate the roadway and similar lighting is often used for security in parking lots.  Pedestrian-scale lamp posts are used primarily to light the sidewalks.  Lighting on and for the exterior of historic buildings is another form of lighting that can be used to enhance the nighttime appearance of historic buildings.


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Street Furniture


Benches and trash receptacles are among the items that are collectively called “street furniture.” These items are subjected to hard use and harsh weather conditions. Worn or damaged street furniture is a liability rather than an asset. Street furniture should be attractive and durable. Regular maintenance is required to keep street furniture in top condition. The quantity and placement of street furniture should be determined by need and frequency of use.

Plants can be a colorful inviting feature in downtowns, but it is important to realize that most Kansas commercial areas did not have street trees or potted plants historically, and that vegetation can cause problems. Always select vegetation to be planted carefully, plant appropriately, and plan for maintenance.

Considerations:  Benches, trash receptacles, planters, etc., must be selected for their appearance and function. The long term maintenance (including the ability to deter theft and vandalism) of furnishings is also critical consideration in making furniture selections.  Bench orientation towards the building or street must be considered. Benches facing the buildings allow for viewing display windows and watching people as they enter and exit places of business. Benches against a building facade are typically in a traffic pattern, may block pedestrian access to display windows, and basically provide a view of auto and truck bumpers parked against the curb.

Considerations:  Landscaping or the addition of vegetation to historic commercial areas, while not historically accurate, may enhance the area’s appearance and the pedestrian’s experience by providing color, shade and protection from weather. Vegetation that is incorrectly placed can create a visual hazard for vehicular and pedestrian circulation, as well as blocking the view of business signs and storefronts. Landscape features must provide an inviting and attractive appearance year round and should be selected with care by a knowledgeable professional.  Sidewalks are usually only eight to twelve feet wide and fully grown street trees can take nearly all of the available width between the curb and building. Street trees often grow to obscure business signs, drop leaves, twigs, and fruit on the sidewalk, and must be pruned and treated for disease regularly. It is important to consider the type, placement, and maintenance of trees within a business district.  Potted bushes and flowers require daily maintenance when newly planted and in the summer months. During the winter, potted plants usually should be removed from the streetscape and stored until the following

Properly sized trees and landscaping can enhance the downtown area and provide for visual relief and enhancement of streets.

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spring. The empty planters left on the sidewalk all winter often ends up being used as an ashtray and trash receptacle. Raised planters are also commonly used in a new streetscape designs and require the same care as pots. However, they are usually not removed in winter because of their size.

Open Space Open space in a downtown can provide an opportunity for outdoor activities like picnics, concerts and festivals. Some downtowns were planned with a public park or public square at the center or along one edge. Installing “pocket parks” in open spaces along a commercial contiguous line can render the property vacant permanently and will typically never return the site for use by a building with a tax base. However, for open spaces that currently exist or are in the planning stages should keep in

mind the following considerations. Considerations:  Think about how the space will be used and how often it will be used.  Open spaces should be well maintained to provide an inviting atmosphere rather than an image of a forgotten or leftover space.  Night time lighting and open views through and into the open space will provide a feeling of safety for the users.  Open spaces should include places for people to gather, sit, and play.  Open spaces should also provide areas in sunlight and in shade for use year round. Trash receptacles, water fountains, and public toilets nearby make open spaces more inviting places.

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Main Street Design Guidelines  

A design manual for Dodge City Development Councils Main Street Sector.

Main Street Design Guidelines  

A design manual for Dodge City Development Councils Main Street Sector.