Skip to Content

Site Layout, Parking Layout, and Building Design

Site Layout, Parking Layout, and Building Design Placing buildings towards the edges of streets and public spaces helps to create walkable urban environments by providing a sense of definition to streets and emphasizing pedestrian access.Reducing curb-cuts, driveways, and service entrances and loading areas further improves pedestrian access.


Potential strategies to support site layout and building design include the following:

  • Prominent, Pedestrian-scaled Building Placement and Entry
    • Place buildings at or close to the property line
    • Require sidewalks to be built to a minimum width to accommodate needed pedestrian circulation
    • Encourage or require new development to incorporate bicycle lanes or bus shelters within the project footprint
    • Allow zero or minimal building setbacks from the sidewalk to create intimate, pedestrian-scaled environments
    • Create regular, functional building entries along the street frontage
  • Ground-Floor and Streetwall
    • Orient buildings towards public realm
    • Prioritize active uses along building ground-floors
    • Create pedestrian-oriented facades along base of the building
    • Require ground-level façade transparency
    • Prohibit access to off-street parking on key frontages
    • Minimize or prohibit blank walls
  • Parking Placement
    • Locate parking areas behind or beside buildings away from the primary street frontage
    • Prohibit parking spaces between the primary building frontage and the street
    • Discourage surface parking
    • Allow parking in structures, either above or below ground
    • Consolidate parking into district or shared areas
    • Share driveway access
    • Provide access from secondary streets
    • Limit the number and width of curb cuts
  • Height and Massing (for Compact Development)
    • Allow taller buildings near stations
    • Transition from taller building heights at the station to distinguish area
    • Incorporate controls for shadow zones; access to light and air on streets and open spaces
    • Articulate buildings as a series of masses to break up the façade


Studies have found that people tend to walk more and drive less in areas with more traditional neighborhood design characteristics. This includes placing building entrances close to the sidewalk and orienting buildings towards the street (Kuzmyak and Pratt, 2003).