This material is presented for informational purposes only. Herron-Morton Place holds no liability for inaccuracies that may be contained herein. Individuals are urged to contact the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission for complete guidelines as may apply to your project.
Guidelines serve as an aid in designing new construction which responds sensitively to the existing context and in a manner generally believed to be appropriate. Therefore, the most important first step in designing new construction in any historic district is to determine just what the context is to which the designer is expected to be sensitive.
Every site will possess a unique context. This will be comprised of the buildings immediately adjacent, the nearby area (often the surrounding block), a unique subarea within the district and the district as a whole.
Generally, new construction will occur on sites which fall into the following categories. For each one described below, there is an indication of the context to which new construction must be primarily related.
Developed Site – This is usually a site upon which there already exists an historic primary structure. New construction usually involves an addition to the buildings or the construction of an accessory building such as a garage.
Context – New construction must use the existing historic building as its most important, perhaps only, context.
Isolated Site – This is usually a single vacant lot (sometimes two very small lots combined) which exists in a highly developed area with very few if any other vacant lots in view.
Context – The existing buildings immediately adjacent and in the same block, and the facing block provide a very strong context to which any new construction must primarily relate.
Large Site – This is usually a combination of several vacant lots, often the result of previous demolition.
Context – Since this type of site was usually created as a result of relatively extensive demolition, its surrounding context has been weakened by its very existence. However, context is still of primary concern. In such a case, a somewhat larger area than the immediate environment must also be looked to for context, especially if other vacant land exists in the immediate area.
Expansive Site – This site may consist of a half block or more of vacant land or the site may be a smaller one surrounded by many other vacant sites. Often there is much vacant land surrounding the site.
Context – The context of adjacent buildings can be weak or non-existent. In this case, the surrounding area provides the primary context, to the extent that it exists. Beyond that, the entire historic area is the available context for determining character. This type of site often offers the greatest design flexibility. Where the strength of the context varies at different points around the site, new design should be responsive to the varying degrees of contextual influence.