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Design Guidelines


Who is the Design Committee?

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Believe in Bristol’s design committee is composed of volunteers who are trained design professionals as well as concerned citizens who truly believe in the potential for downtown Bristol to provide a rich, stimulating, and accommodating environment for everyone.

All of us work regularly, both in our professional lives and through our work on the committee, to make the most of Bristol’s assets as a way to enrich our community’s quality of life.

What do we do?

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  • We educate others about good design by providing information on materials and contractors for building and storefront improvements to enhance the image of each business as well as that of the district.
  • We provide good design advice by assisting in discussions about building and property owners’ conceptual plans to encourage quality improvements to private properties and public spaces.
  • We participate in downtown development by collaborating with city government to guide future growth, inform public improvements, and help shape written guidelines and regulations.
  • We motivate others to make changes by creating incentives and targeting key projects.

What don't we do?

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  • The Believe in Bristol Design Committee does not promote a particular aesthetic vision to the community. We are here to work with those who recognize a need for help and a desire for collaboration in advancing the dream of a rich and vibrant downtown – and we recognize that “good design ” can come in a multitude of forms and styles.
  • The Design Committee has no power to approve or reject proposed designs for downtown.
  • The professionals on the design committee do not provide free design services to the public apart from general recommendations and advice about improvements that may or may not require the engagement of professional services for implementation.

Why should you consult with the Design Committee before making improvements to your property?

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Consultation with the Design Committee is entirely at your discretion, costs you nothing, and comes with no strings attached. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from a conversation with the committee. We will hear your concerns and offer our input at no obligation to you.

What if you are interested in a consultation with the Design Committee but can't wait for a Believe in Bristol Design Committee Public Workshop to begin planning improvements to your property?

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Here are some principles of good design to get you started:

Start small. Begin with small-scale physical improvements, such as planters, banners, paint schemes, and signs. Tackle larger-scale renovations only after you’ve built confidence, experience, and expertise.

Avoid Themes. Preservation advocates saving and utilizing those architectural elements of a community that help to tell our story. Adopting romantic notions about historic themes or attempting to make buildings look like something they never were is inauthentic and conflicts with the ethic of historic preservation.

Create compatibility. Improvements should build on existing physical assets. Don’t imitate historic styles, but consider complementary changes that respect existing building materials, scale, proportions, patterns, detailing, and colors.

Stress continuity. Avoid tearing down historic and traditional commercial buildings so as not to create gaping “holes” in the streetscape of lively storefronts on your block.

Build quality. Insist that the best possible materials, craftsmanship and the genuine articles, not substitute or simulated materials, be used for any new construction so it will stand the test of time and communicate pride and belief in your Main Street’s future as well as its past.

Believe in Bristol maintains a small collection of Main Street Design reference materials that can be viewed in our office.