Designs General Information

Design Guidelines

General Information

The Reston Association Design Review Board (DRB) develops design criteria with the following objectives in mind:

  • Preserving the design integrity, architectural quality and aesthetic character of Reston's properties that make Reston a desirable place to live.
  • Encouraging environmental responsibility.
  • Promoting the continued physical vitality of neighborhoods in order to enhance property values for all residents.
  • Preserving excellence in design within a great diversity of property types and uses drawing on essential design principles. The Design Guidelines are based on the following principles:
  • Harmony with overall community design. Within the context of the Reston Master Plan, neighborhoods and clusters were designed so the individual homes would be architecturally compatible with each other, displaying some differences while maintaining a visual and physical harmony of style, proportion, color and materials. Additionally, the original designs of residential, commercial and public use properties were reviewed and approved to fit within an overall context, or balance, of architectural aesthetics and intended use. The design guidelines and review process assist in maintaining that harmony as exterior changes are made to individual properties.
  • Effect on neighboring properties. The proposed change should be compatible with the neighborhood's overall architecture, site design, landscaping, topography and existing character. Accommodation of access, sunlight, ventilation, view, noise, odors, trash, drainage, vehicular and pedestrian traffic and the privacy and normal use of neighboring properties are primary considerations.
  • Workmanship and materials. Long-term durability and appearance of proposed alterations are important considerations, and the quality of the workmanship and materials should be equal to or better than originally used in the neighborhood. Construction methods and materials are expected to comply with current industry standards and building codes. 
  • Timing of completion. Once begun, projects should be completed in a timely manner so as to limit the impact of on-going construction upon the community. Projects are required to commence within six months and be substantially completed within 18 months after the approval date.

Two other considerations that may be important to property owners are safety and security:

  • Safety can be maintained within the context of acceptable design and construction. Fairfax County, through its building code, administers safety standards. Neither Reston Association nor the DRB have authority or responsibility for enforcing safety standards.
  • It is the property owner's responsibility to provide the needed security without offending neighboring property owners or the community. In almost all cases, you can provide security items within the parameters of good and acceptable design.

Reston has many types of homes and a variety of other properties. There is great diversity in architectural design, location and surroundings. Some homes are part of housing clusters, while others are not. Reston was originally planned to have 21,346 residential units, including single family detached homes, townhouses, apartments, patio homes and condominiums. Commercial properties, schools, churches, parks and recreation facilities make for a balanced community. 

It follows that the guidelines and the review considerations differ in accordance with the type of property involved and its context. For example, a design solution that may be appropriate for a contemporary-style single family home on a wooded lot may not be appropriate for a cluster of traditional-style townhouses. 

Achieving the objectives of the Design Guidelines while balancing the rights and expectations of property owners with those of their neighbors in a community as diverse as Reston requires guidelines that are appropriate for the situation.

Design Guidelines Resources