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Chapter 9 Residential Infill: Welcome

The Contents of Chapter 9

9.1 Introduction

9.2 The Design Approach

  • Single Family Housing

  • Multi-family Housing

  • The Residential Duplex/Triplex/Fourplex

  • The Bungalow Court

  • The Courtyard Apartment Building

9.3 Setting, Location and Site Design

9.4 Massing and Orientation

9.5 Roof Forms

9.6 Openings

9.7 Materials and Details

9.8 Relocating Historic Structures

Chapter 9 Residential Infill: Text


“Infill” is the process of building a new structure on a vacant site within an existing neighborhood. These infill guidelines are also applicable to the review of alterations to structures or sites within the HPOZ that are “Non-Contributing” as identified in the Historic Resource Survey.

These Residential In fill Guidelines are intended for the use of residential property owners planning new structures on vacant sites or alterations to Non-Contributing structures or sites within the HPOZ. These guidelines help ensure that such new construction and alterations recognize and are sensitive to their historic context.

Non-Contributing structures are those structures, landscapes, natural features, or sites identified as Non-Contributing in the Historic Resources   Survey   for      this      HPOZ. Generally, Non-Contributing structures are those that have been  built outside of  the  historic period of significance of the HPOZ, or are those that were built within that period but no longer retain the features (due to subsequent alterations) that identify them  as  belonging  to  that  period.  The historic period of significance of the HPOZ is usually the time period in which the majority of construction in the area occurred.

The Residential In fill Guidelines are divided into six (6) sections, each covering a building design element. Elements from all sections will be important when planning or evaluating proposed new construction or alterations to existing non-contributing structures or sites. The Residential In fill of the guidelines should be used in the planning and review of most projects involving new structures in residential areas. They are also intended for use in the planning and review of projects for structures in areas that were originally built as residential areas which have since been converted to commercial use.

Chapter 9 Residential Infill: About


In addition to following these guidelines, successful new construction shall take cues from its context and surroundings. One of the first steps in designing a new building within an historic district is to look at other buildings on the block, and other similar buildings in the neighborhood. In general, new construction should not try to exactly replicate the style of the surrounding historic structures.  However, it is important that the design of new construction in an historic district be consistent with the design of surrounding historic structures and sites. Design elements that are usually important in establishing this consistency include orientation on a site; massing and scale; roof form; materials and the patterns of doors and windows.

Most HPOZs have stood the test of time because they contain structures that are designed and constructed with a high level of design integrity and quality of workmanship. Consequently, new structures within the HPOZ should strive to integrate the highest and best design and construction practices while integrating such elements into a program that is well suited for the historic context.

Single Family Housing

Different architectural styles or types generally exhibit common architectural design elements. Therefore, if you are  considering  a project that  involves  new construction on  a  vacant lot,  the  first  step in designing a new building is to determine what style elements are present in other building on  the block. If the existing buildings are all of the same or similar styles, common design themes should emerge. Do the majority of structures on your street have large front porches? Parapet roofs? Wood cladding? The Residential In fill Guidelines that follow point out various design elements that need special attention to insure that new construction is compatible with the historic streetscape.

Contemporary designs for new in- fill construction are not necessarily discouraged within the HPOZ. Most importantly, each project should respond to its surrounding context and help to create a seamless transition from architectural style to architectural style and from building type to building type.

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Multi-family Housing

Many HPOZs contain multi-family structures that were constructed during their Period of Significance. These may include a variety of building types, including large apartment buildings, garden-style apartment buildings, bungalow courts, or secondary dwelling units in a rear yard. In some instances, single family homes were divided into boarding houses or apartments during the Period of Significance, and those modifications may have historical significance. Other HPOZs would have originally consisted of single family homes, but beyond the Period of Significance, land use patterns and zoning regulations may have allowed for multi-family uses. Houses may have been converted to multi-family residences, or newer apartment or condo buildings may have been constructed. In any event, when a multi- family residential project is proposed in an HPOZ the project should follow the Residential In fill Guidelines contained in this section. The In-Fill Guidelines contain examples of several multi-family building types and architectural styles that may be compatible with the HPOZ. When possible, applicants should pay close attention to what types of multi-family structures existed in the HPOZ during the Period of Significance.

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The Residential Duplex /Triplex /Four-plex

In the period when many of Los Angeles’ HPOZs developed, low density multi-family structures in residential neighborhoods often were developed in the same architectural styles and with similar massing as single-family residences in the same area. The Craftsman and Renaissance Revival styles, in particular, lent themselves to the development of 2-unit to 4-unit structures, often with simple rectangular massing. Usually, the only external indication that these structures were not single family dwellings was the multi-door entryway, often designed with the same porch form as single family neighbors.

These multi-family structures   were usually   developed   with the same setbacks, height, and often the same roof-forms as their neighbors.  In some cases,   individual   entryways   were concealed in a foyer or lobby beyond a common entry door, rendering these structures indistinguishable from single-family residences in the same neighborhood. In historic residential neighborhoods comprised primarily of two-story single-family structures, this architectural style may be a useful model for low-density multi-family development.

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Guidelines for building in the Duplex/Triplex /Four-plex form:

1. The scale, roof form and architectural style of the structure should be consistent with these residential in fill guidelines and with surrounding historic residential structures.

2. Entryways should be located on the street-facing facade of the structure, and should be designed to read as a single entryway. This may be  achieved  through  the  location  of  doorways  around a central recessed entry, or through the use of a single exterior doorway leading to an interior entry hall.

3. Entryways should be defined by a single traditional-styled porch.

4. Parking areas should be located to the rear of the structure.

5. Front yard areas should be comprised of landscaping. Paving front yard areas is inappropriate.

6. Setbacks should be consistent with surrounding historic single- family structures.

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The Bungalow Court

A low-scale multi-family housing solution popular in  the  pre-World War II era, bungalow courts were classically comprised as a cluster of small one story residential structures of a common architectural style organized, usually in two parallel lines, around a central courtyard arranged perpendicular to the street, and often anchored by a two story complex at the back of the courtyard.

Important elements of this design style that ensure its compatibility with historic residential development patterns include the small scale of the bungalows, the quality of their architectural detailing, the choice of an architectural style compatible with surrounding residential development, and a treatment of the facades on  the bungalows facing the primary street that includes details like porches, entryways, overhanging eaves and other  details which emphasize reliance on traditional single-family residential design elements. This type of development may be appropriate in historic areas comprised predominantly of small single story cottages or duplexes where multi- family development is permitted by the zoning code.

Guidelines for building in the Bungalow Court form:

1. All buildings within the court should be designed in a cohesive architectural style that reflects an architectural style common in the surrounding neighborhood.

2. Entryways within the court should be marked by porches that face onto a central courtyard.

3. The central courtyard should be arranged perpendicular to the street, with a central axial path leading through the development. The central courtyard should not be sectioned off into private open space.

4. The scale of the bungalows should reflect the scale of the surrounding historic residential structures.

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The Courtyard Apartment Building

Courtyard apartments were a popular multi-family housing style in Los Angeles from the 1920s-1950s. Typically, these complexes were designed as two-story L or U shaped structures or clusters of structures that wrapped around a central entry courtyard. These complexes were typically built in a romantic style, often Spanish Colonial Revival or Mediterranean Revival. Later examples were often built in the Early Modern styles such as Streamline Moderne or Minimal Traditional.

The defining feature of these complexes is   the central courtyard, which was typically the central entryway to individual apartments. Complexes with an L-shaped plan were typically designed in a smaller scale, with individual exterior entryways for each unit. Typically, in these structures second-story entryways were designed as romantic balconies or loggias. Quite often, the street-facing end of the L was marked with large, elaborate windows.

In the U shaped variant of this style,  the central courtyard  typically led to a central entryway, and each unit was accessed from an interior hallway. These U shaped structures sometimes rose to three stories or higher.

Guidelines for building in the Courtyard Apartment form:

1. New Courtyard Apartment structures should reflect the scale of surrounding historic residential structures.

2. Structures should be arranged on their lots in an L or U shape around a central courtyard which is open to the street.

3. Lower scale structures may have individual exterior  entryways for each unit. These entryways should each be marked by its own porch. Common balconies or porches spanning more than two entryways are discouraged.

4. The central courtyard area should be extensively landscaped. Water features and fountains are encouraged.

5. The architectural style and materials of the new structure should reflect an architectural style appropriate to the surrounding historic area.

6. Parking areas should be located to the rear or beneath the structure.

7. All buildings within the court should be designed in a cohesive architectural style which reflects an architectural style common in the surrounding neighborhood.

Chapter 9 Residential Infill: About


The site design of an historic structure is an essential part of its character. Further, the spacing and location of historic structures within an historic neighborhood usually establishes a rhythm that is essential to the character of the neighborhood. While each individual house within an HPOZ may not be architecturally significant in its own right, the grouping of houses, with uniform setbacks and street features, give the neighborhood a strong sense of place that is indeed significant. The early designers and builders of the HPOZ considered the streetscape, setbacks, drives, walks, retaining walls, and the way a structure itself sits on its lot in relation so others on the street. The purpose of this is to provide guidelines that ensure that new construction visible from the street respects and complements the existing historic streetscape.

Traditionally, residential structures were sited on their lots in a way that emphasized a progression of public to private spaces: public streets, planting strips (or parkways), sidewalks, front yard and front walks, porches and, finally, the private space of an individual home. Nearly all historic residential structures were designed to present their face to the street, and not to a side or rear yard. This paradigm dictated that spaces such as living rooms, dining rooms and parlors were generally found at the front of houses whereas spaces such as kitchens, service areas and detached garages were found at  the  rear. Common setbacks in the front and side yards and appropriate floor-planning helped ensure these orderly progressions.  Preservation of these progressions is essential to the preservation of the historic residential character of structures and neighborhoods.


1. New residential structures should be placed on their lots to harmonize with the existing historic setbacks of the block on which they are located. The depth of the front and side yards should be preserved, consistent with other structures on the same block face.

2. A progression of public to private spaces from the street to the residence should be maintained. One method of achieving this goal is to maintain the use of a porch to create a transitional space from public to private.

3. Historic topography and continuity of grade between properties should be maintained.

4. Attached garages are generally inappropriate; detached garages are preferred. Garages should be located to the rear of the property.

5. Parking areas should be located to rear of a structure. Designation of parking spaces within a front yard area is generally inappropriate.

6. Front and side yard areas should be largely dedicated to planting areas. Large expanses of concrete and parking areas are inappropriate.

7. The lot coverage proposed for an in- fill project should be substantially consistent with the lot coverage of nearby Contributor properties.

8. Paving and parking areas should be located to the rear of new residential structures whenever possible.

9. Xeriscape landscaping, which is a water efficient way of landscaping, may be appropriate, provided that efforts are made to replicate the feel of historic landscaping.

10. If recurring historic plantings exist in the neighborhood, efforts should be made to reintroduce similar landscape elements.

11. Landscaping should not be so lush or massive that public views of the house are significantly obstructed.

12. Outdoor period details, such as address tiles and mailboxes are encouraged.

13. Moderate   landscape   illumination and decorative lighting is appropriate.

14. Mature trees and hedges, particularly street trees in the public planting strip, should be retained whenever possible. If replacement is necessary, in-kind plant materials are recommended.

Chapter 9 Residential Infill: About


The height and massing of historic structures in an intact historic neighborhood is most often fairly uniform along  a  block  face.  Nearly  all historic residential structures were designed to present their face to the street, and not to a side or rear yard. The purpose of  this section is  to ensure that the scale, height, bulk, and massing of new construction visible from the street is compatible with the existing context of historic structures and the neighborhood as a whole.


1. New residential structures should harmonize in scale and massing with the existing historic structures in surrounding blocks. For instance, a 2.5 story structure should not be built in a block largely occupied by single-story bungalows.

2. When found to be appropriate, new structures that will be  larger than their neighbors should be designed in modules, with the greater part of the mass located away from the main facade to minimize the perceived bulk of the structure.

3. New residential structures should present their front door  and major architectural facades to the primary street and  not  to  the side or rear yard.

4. In some cases on corner lots, a corner entryway between two de fi ning architectural facades may be appropriate.

5. A progression of public to private spaces in the front yard is encouraged. One method of achieving this goal is through the use of  a porch to defi ne the primary entryway.

Chapter 9 Residential Infill: About


It is often true that the structures on one block of an historic neighborhood share a common architectural style. This common style frequently is articulated by a common roof form, which helps establish a common character for the block. The purpose of this is to encourage traditional roof forms on infill houses in order to help maintain a common character for the area.


1. New residential structures should echo the roof forms of the surrounding historic structures. For instance, if the majority of structures along a particular street utilize front-facing gable-ends, the in-fill structure should likewise utilize a gable-end. Where a diversity of roof forms exist on a street, a predominant form should be used. I t would be inappropriate to introduce a new roof form that is not present on the street.

2. Roofing materials should appear similar to those used traditionally in surrounding historic residential structures. If modern materials are to be used, such materials should be simple and innocuous.

3. Dormers, and other roof features on new construction should echo the size and placement of such features on  historic  structures within the HPOZ.

4. In HPOZs where roof  edge  details,  such  as  corbels,  rafter  tails, or decorative verge boards are common, new construction should incorporate roof edge  details which echo these traditional details in  a simplified form.

Chapter 9 Residential Infill: About


The pattern of  windows,  doors,  and other openings on  the facades of  an historic structure strongly de fi ne the character of the structure’s design. These openings de fi ne character through their shape, size, construction, façade arrangement, materials, and pro file. Repetition of these patterns in the many historic structures of  an  historic  district helps to de fi ne the distinctive historic character of the area. I t is important, therefore, that new construction in these areas re flect these basic historic design patterns.


1. New construction should have a similar façade solid-to-void ratio to those found in surrounding historic structures.

2. New construction should use similar window groupings and alignments to those on surrounding historic structures.

3. Windows should be similar in shape and scale to those found in surrounding historic structures.

4. Windows should appear similar in materials and construction to those found in surrounding historic structures.

5. Dormers should be similar in scale to those found on existing historic structures in the area.

6. Main entryways should be con figured and emphasized similarly to those on surrounding structures. Attention should be paid to design similarities such as symmetry, depth, and the use of architectural features such as pediments, crowns, porches, etc.

7. Entrance enclosures, such as porches, porte-cocheres and  overhangs should be used when similar features are widely used within the neighborhood.

Chapter 9 Residential Infill: About


Traditionally, the materials used to form the major facades of a residential structure were intended to work in harmony with the architectural detail of the building to present a unified architectural style. Often, this style is repeated with subtle variations on many structures within an historic district. It is essential that new construction within an historic area reflect the character of the area by reflecting the palette of colors, materials and design details historically present in the neighborhood.


1. New construction should incorporate materials similar to  those used traditionally in historic structures in the area. If most houses within a neighborhood are wood clapboard, an in- fill house that is entirely stucco is generally inappropriate.

2. Materials used in new construction should be in units similar in scale to those used historically. For instance, bricks or masonry units should be of the same size as those used historically.

3. Architectural details such a newel posts, porch columns, rafter tails, etc., should echo, but not exactly imitate, architectural details on surrounding historic structures. Special attention should  be  paid to scale and arrangement, and, to a lesser extent, detail.

4. Use of simplified versions of traditional architectural details is encouraged.

5. If the integration of modern building  materials,  not  present during the Period of Significance, is found to be appropriate, such materials should be subtly used and appear visually innocuous in comparison to surrounding historic structures.

Chapter 9 Residential Infill: About


In most cases, the proposed relocation of an historic structure to a location within an historic district should be evaluated in  much  the same way as a proposed new in fill construction project. There are, however, several additional considerations that should be taken into account when evaluating this type of project to ensure that the historic importance of both the structure to be  moved  and  the district in  which it will be relocated are preserved.


1. If feasible, relocation of a structure within its original neighborhood is strongly preferred.

2. Relocation of the structure to a lot similar in  size  and  topography to the original is strongly preferred.

3. Generally, the structure to be relocated should be similar in age, style, massing, and size to existing historic structures on the block front on which it will be placed.

4. The structure to be relocated should be placed on its new lot in the same orientation and with the same setbacks to the street as its placement on its original lot.

5. A relocation plan should be prepared prior to relocation that ensures that the least destructive method of relocation will be used.

6. Alterations to the historic structure proposed to further the relocation process should be evaluated in accordance with the Rehabilitation Guidelines.

7. The appearance, including materials and height of the new foundations for the relocated historic structure should match those original to the structure as closely as possible, taking into account applicable codes.

Chapter 9 Residential Infill: About
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