About Brookfield: 2020 Master Plan: Appendix C: Design Guidelines

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What are Design Guidelines?

Design Guidelines illustrate the urban design potential for sustainable, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and can be used to shape the renovation of existing structures, as well as the development of new buildings. These Guidelines are a supplement to the Zoning and Building regulations and are not code. They are, as the name applies, guides to development and rehabilitation within an area. That said, aspects of the Guidelines, including building to the property lines, landscaping requirements, and mixed-use development requirements, can and should be incorporated into the Zoning Code.

Adherence to these Guidelines will increase the comfort of pedestrians, encourage increased activity for the businesses, and enhance the Brookfield Station, Hollywood Station, and Eight Corners Subareas. Developed through a public process, including an Image Preference Survey, they reflect the character preferences of the community.

The Village of Brookfield can encourage compliance with the Design Guidelines in several ways. First, the Village can incorporate some of the Guidelines into the Zoning Code, as was previously mentioned, codifying a specific set of these Guidelines. Second, the Village can encourage their use through creating funding sources to assist property owners with building rehabilitation or new construction and tying these monies to compliance. Examples of these programs are façade or sign grant programs, which can be created by a municipality with tax increment financing (TIF) monies.

State and federal monies are also available to assist with a variety of other redevelopment projects, including building rehabilitation and maintenance through state and federal tax credits and grants for buildings within state or federally approved historic districts (Historic Preservation Fund and State and Federal Historic Tax Credits). Other organizations and agencies fund grants for community public art projects (Gunk Foundation), improvements to grade crossings (Grade Crossing Protection Fund), and transportation projects such as improvement to traffic flow, transit facilities, commuter lots, and bicycle and pedestrian facilities (Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement).

The following guidelines are organized into four categories: First Impressions, Building Façade Design, Building Type and Site Design, and Streetscape Design. A glossary, defining many of the terms used in this report, is included at the end of the document.


Sustainable, healthy neighborhoods welcome visitors as consumers and potential residents. The visual impression visitors’ form as they enter an area greatly impacts how desirable they judge an area to be. Visitors will form their first impression while passing through in a car and, as is the case for the Brookfield Station and Hollywood Station areas, while passing by on the train.

When creating a favorable first impression, it is important to assess the existing traits and characteristics that already make the area unique, such as the Eight Corners’ intersection, the six-cornered intersection in the downtown, and the Hollywood Station’s proximity to the Zoo.

The guidelines in this section address the specific properties within each of the three Subareas. The gateways to each of the Subareas should receive special emphasis to indicate arrival into a special district; public art or monuments at these gateways can also be used to highlight its unique qualities.

Guideline 1.1 Treat Gateway Lots with Special Design

Corner lots are the first lots that a visitor sees upon entering an area; corner buildings can serve as the gateway into an area and can set the tone for the whole street. Corner buildings should be prominent and should hold the corner by being built to both the front and side property lines.

As commuters pass downtown Brookfield and the Hollywood Station areas, two intersections are immediately visible. In the downtown, the currently six-cornered intersection of Grand Boulevard, Brookfield, Prairie, and Fairview Avenues is an ideal area to create a positive impression for visitors, drawing them down the streets and into the downtown commercial and residential corridors. The existing corner buildings at this intersection are already built to the front and side property lines, however, two of the three buildings do not have usable upper floors. The lower height of these buildings blends in with the other buildings on the street, rather than standing out as the most prominent feature. The corner of Fairview and Brookfield Avenues is currently vacant; developing a corner building at this location would serve to further define the downtown.

In the Hollywood Station area, the intersection of Hollywood and Brookfield Avenues is the prominent intersection. Not only is it very visible from the train, but it also serves as the gateway for the approximately one-half mile Zoo walk from the train station to the Zoo. The intersection has two well-built corner buildings, although one is currently vacant. These buildings should be maintained and highlighted through continued maintenance.

The Eight Corners Subarea has several corners that could serve as the entrances into the corridor, as well as eight opportunities within the Subarea to define the area as a pedestrian-oriented commercial district and help draw potential patrons and business owners into the area. Maple Avenue has the highest traffic counts and therefore is an important street to treat. Brookfield Avenue should also be considered for gateway treatments as it is the prime commercial corridor within the Subarea.

Guideline 1.2 Install Public Art or Monuments at Gateway

Public art can be used to not only welcome visitors to an area, but also to help define the identity of the corridor. To make a piece of art more unique to an area, it can be created by local artists, school children, or community groups. Special flags, banners, monuments, and other design features can be used in a similar way to public art. Fountains, though often cost prohibitive, are forms of public art which can also serve to handle stormwater runoff from adjacent impervious surfaces. The Subarea maps in Category 1 identify the potential locations for public art or monuments.


In the Village of Brookfield many of the existing historic buildings have undergone façade renovations, often with the result of diminishing or removing the traditional façade elements that give the buildings character. Building facades are key to defining an area. Traditional design elements provide a building with detail and divide a large façade into smaller, human-scale pieces. The results of the Image Preference Survey (IPS) taken by Brookfield residents during the public planning process show a preference to preserve and restore these design elements on existing buildings and to include them in new construction.

New construction should be designed with traditional proportions and high-quality materials designed to resist deterioration. Use of transparent display windows encourages passers-by to look into shops. Small-scale signage, awnings over windows or doors, and exterior lights affixed to buildings also help create a pedestrian-friendly environment. In retail, storefront character is a key feature to draw customers into the store. Consequently, these guidelines are especially important for the storefront portion of a building’s facade.

Guideline 2.1 Incorporate Traditional Façade Elements

Traditional facade elements should be incorporated into both mixed-use and commercial buildings, as well as residential buildings throughout the three Subareas. Many of the existing commercial and mixed-use buildings have, or once had, traditional design elements and details. Elements such as cornices, pediments, and vertically oriented windows, such as double-hung and casement windows, provide detail, depth, and divide the facade into smaller, more human scale pieces. Appropriately scaled light fixtures attached to the exterior of a building should reflect the character of the building and can also create additional interest.

Several multi-family residential buildings currently exist within the three pedestrian-oriented subareas and there is a desire to increase the number of residents living in these areas. New residential buildings should incorporate traditional facade elements in many of the same ways as mixed-use or commercial buildings, including horizontal expression lines, repeating sills, and windows facing the street. Existing residential buildings should maintain these elements when renovated. The primary entrance to a residential building should face the street on which the building fronts. The first story should be raised above the level of the sidewalk, with the stairs internal to the building.

Guideline 2.2 Use Appropriate Building Materials and Colors

As existing buildings are renovated and new buildings constructed, the materials used should match or complement those on existing traditional buildings in the area. The highest-quality, natural materials should be used for both new construction and renovation projects to reduce maintenance costs and attain a sense of permanence and durability. Brick and stone are common materials used on existing traditional buildings in Brookfield and they are good choices for new construction. Original materials and design features on existing buildings should be maintained and enhanced. Previous façade renovations that covered or diminished such elements should be reversed.

Inexpensive industrial materials and residential-grade materials, such as concrete block and vinyl or metal siding, should be avoided. Unfinished materials, such as plywood, and obviously faux finishes, like exterior insulated finish system (EIFS) which is a type of false stucco, should not be used. All hardware installed on the ground floor should be designed for commercial rather than residential use.

Guideline 2.3 Install Transparent Windows

Transparent windows free of tints and mirrors allow pedestrians to see into stores and business owners and shoppers to look out onto the sidewalk. Upper floor windows should be vertically oriented and spaced regularly to allow visibility onto the street from these floors. The more transparent the facade, the more “eyes on the street”, making an area safer, especially when residences on upper floors can see the street 24- hours a day.

Seventy-five percent of the front façade should be composed of storefront display windows between 2’ and 8’ above the sidewalk. To facilitate views into and out of the store, signage within the window should be kept to a minimum. Transom windows, which are horizontal windows above display windows and doors, should be maintained or included in new development to increase the amount of natural light within the store.

Guideline 2.4 Orient Signage to Pedestrians

A sign reflects the personality and quality of the business and contributes to the character of an area. Signage should be small in scale yet visible to both drivers and pedestrians. Two types of signage are recommended for the subareas: signage mounted flat on the building’s face and signage projecting from the building. The first type of signage, flat or band signage, may include pin-mounted signs or signage composed of individual letters. Individual backlit letters are acceptable. The second, projecting signs, should be oriented perpendicularly and should not project across the property line to a point within 18 inches of the curb line.

Backlit box signs—a box frame covered with a plastic sheet, illuminated from inside—are not recommended. Signs with flashing lights should also be avoided. Pole-mounted signage is prohibited, as it is oriented solely to automobiles. Existing pole-mounted signs should be phased out.


Building type refers to the building scale and massing, as well as the use of the building. Site design refers to how the building is located and oriented on its site. All future development and redevelopment projects in the subareas should be guided with recommendations for building types that are appropriate for the subarea and with strategic site design.

Many of the existing buildings in the subareas are single-use, single-story buildings, which do not serve to increase the number of people within the subareas at various times of the day, and limits the number of “eyes on the street.” To increase the number of residents living within the subareas, new construction, especially in the Eight Corners and Brookfield Station Subareas, should be mixed-use, including ground-floor retail and upper-floor residences or offices.

New auto-oriented uses are not recommended in the pedestrian-oriented subareas. Existing auto-oriented uses should be phased out or blended into the subareas with effective site planning. Auto-oriented commercial uses, such as businesses with a drive-thru or gas stations, should utilize alleys and side streets to access parking lots and drive thru lanes whenever possible. Parking lots should be located behind buildings, however if necessary to be adjacent to the right-of-way, parking lots or driveways should be screened with landscaping and decorative fencing.

Guideline 3.1 Construct Buildings to Property Lines

New buildings should be constructed within the build-to zone, which is commonly within five feet of the property line. Buildings should come to side property lines with the minimum side yard setback required by the Zoning Code. This is especially important for corner buildings.

Guideline 3.2 Encourage Mixed-Use Buildings

Mixed-use buildings received positive feedback during the Image Preference Survey (IPS). Mixed-use buildings are important to developing and maintaining a pedestrian-oriented area. The businesses on the first floor provide destinations for pedestrians and make trips more interesting, particularly if the uses are retail with large storefront display windows. Retail and entertainment uses on the first floor, such as restaurants or music clubs, provide an added benefit of activity during business and evening hours.

The upper floors of a mixed-use building provide additional daytime activity if they contain office uses, but more importantly, upper floors can house residential units allowing for 24-hours a day, seven days-a-week activity. These additional “eyes on the street” provide areas with an added safety mechanism, as well as the impression of an active neighborhood.

Two- and three-story mixed-use buildings were frequently discussed during the public process for new development in the Eight Corners Subareas, while two stories were deemed most appropriate for the Hollywood Station Subarea. Two- to four-story buildings were rated positively in the IPS for the Brookfield Station Subarea. Adding upper floors to existing buildings or the development of new mixed-use buildings would allow the Village to increase the number of residents living around the train stations and the pedestrian-oriented areas.


Improved streetscape design will enhance the pedestrian character of the subareas. Some streetscape furniture, street trees, and pedestrian scaled lighting exists within the three subareas, but in few areas is it installed consistently. These features, as well as on-street parking, create a more rewarding pedestrian experience by serving as a buffer between the pedestrian and vehicular realms and creating a more aesthetically interesting landscape. Streetscape enhancement is an example of a capital improvements project that can be implemented to increase the pedestrian-friendliness of a street.

This section discusses the common elements of a streetscape, including sidewalk width, lighting, and street furniture. These elements should be coordinated within each subarea to create an identity and help develop a sense of place. Street furniture, street trees, banners, and seasonal decorations provide a visual reinforcement that both sides of the street are considered a part of the same group. Utilizing the same types of tree or plant within an area will provide similar continuity. The installation of these elements should be the responsibility of a common entity such as the Village or a community group to ensure cohesive design and regular maintenance.

Guideline 4.1 Maintain Width of Sidewalks

Sidewalk width within the subareas varies between about 6 feet and 13 feet. It is important to maintain the maximum width possible within a given right-of-way configuration to allow space to include streetscape design elements such as trash receptacles, pedestrian scale lighting, and benches. A balance must be created between these design elements and maintaining a minimum clearance to comply with ADA regulations, as well as to provide pedestrians with comfortable travel space. In locations where sidewalks are not wide enough for street furniture, pavers or bricks can be used in sidewalk construction to add character to an area.

Guideline 4.2 Install Street Trees or Planters

Choose an appropriate or a series of appropriate tree types to serve as the subareas’ tree(s) and develop a standard installation method and location for each type. Trees can be installed in a variety of locations, including in front of buildings, in center medians, and along side streets to the alley. Street trees may also be located at corners or along side streets to allow more room for other types of street furniture in certain locations. Decorative tree grates can be used to protect the trees and further define the character of an area. Depending on the sidewalk width, it may be more appropriate to locate small pots or planters of flowering materials in lieu of or in addition to trees.

Guideline 4.3 Select and Install Appropriate Street Furniture

Choose a line of street furniture including trash receptacles, benches, tree grates, and bicycle racks for installation within an area. The chosen items need not be identical, however, choosing an overall style will help to develop character for the area. It may be necessary to limit furniture and planters, as the sidewalk width is not unlimited.


A narrow street or passageway between or behind city buildings housing service oriented uses such as
utility lines, deliveries and garbage vestibules.

A feature or detail that enhances the enjoyment of an area; for example, pedestrian amenities would
include benches, walkways, and landscaping.

Architectural Character
The overall effect of elements which comprise a building or group of buildings, including style, materials, fenestration (window arrangement and design), height, size, and other building design details.

A piece of cloth attached to a staff or on light poles typically used by municipalities to advertise
community information or events.

An open portion of an upper floor that extends beyond or indents into a building’s exterior wall.

Bay Window
A series of windows that projects beyond the exterior wall of a building.

Big Box
Large, windowless, rectangular single story buildings with acres of parking in front to attract auto-born shoppers, typically a suburban prototype.

Build-to Line
The maximum setback from the property line.

Building Type
A category that is determined by a building’s height, scale, use, and location of the building on its lot.

Civic Building
A building with a governmental or community function that serves religious, charitable, cultural, educational, or other public purposes.

A traditional architectural feature: a vertical cylindrical pillar or support.

Commercial Building
A building only used for retail, office, service, or institutional uses. Residential uses are not present in
commercial buildings.

A bracket of stone, wood, brick, or other building material, projecting from the face of a wall and generally used to support a cornice or arch.

Corner Building
A building constructed on the corner of a site to hold the spatial definition of an intersection.

A traditional architectural feature: horizontal molding projecting from the facade and along the top of a

A linear area that includes both sides of a street, typically a major arterial or commercial street, between certain beginning and end points.

Design Element
A feature that can be used to enhance appearance such as decorative lighting fixtures, special paving materials in place of concrete or asphalt, or signage.

Design Guidelines
Recommendations describing general design criteria for development.

Display Windows
Windows present on the exterior of a building that may or may not continue through to the interior and are used for store displays. Compare with definition for “punch-out windows.”

Double-Hung Window
A window that has two movable window frames that slide on a vertical track.

Expression Line
A traditional architectural feature: a decorative horizontal element on the exterior of a building that delineates the floors of a building.

“Eyes on the Street”
A concept introduced by author Jane Jacobs that recommends windows facing a street so that people
can monitor street activity from inside.

The front of the building or the part of the building facing the street.

A design element that draws attention to the entrance to a corridor, often indicating the character or history of the neighborhood. Gateways can be buildings, signs, or other artistic installations.

“Holding the Corner”
Building up to both the front and side property lines, in a sense holding down or anchoring the corner.

A category of buildings typically housing schools, universities, hospitals, or other public-oriented services.

A traditional architectural feature: a horizontal structural or decorative element over a window or door

A paved or landscaped island separating lanes of traffic that travel in different directions.

A building that includes more than one use, typically layered vertically. A common example is ground-
floor retail with offices or residences on upper floors.

A structure, such as a building or sculpture, erected as a memorial.

Multi-family Building
A category of buildings housing more than one family. Apartments or condominiums are most typical.

A very large image, such as a painting or enlarged photograph, applied directly to a wall or ceiling.

A traditional architectural feature: a low wall at the edge of a roof that screens the roof itself, thereby creating the roofline.

The effect creating a positive environment for pedestrians, making the area safer and more comfortable.

A traditional architectural feature: a triangular, ornamental element above a door or window. Also, a wide, low-pitched gable on a roof.

A traditional architectural feature: a vertical supporting structure or column. Also, a section of wall that supports the structure.

A traditional architectural feature: a vertical, rectangular feature that projects from a wall. Unlike a column, a pilaster is shallow and does not support the building.

A covered area adjoining an entrance to a building, usually with a separate roof.

Property Line
The boundary that legally demarcates a lot.

Public Art
Large sculptures or murals commissioned by a city to add beauty and character to the city, or in some cases, to capture and take note of something special about the city or an event that took place.

Punch-out windows
Display windows or glass boxes on facades that give the illusion of a window but do not pass through to the inside of the building.

Recessed Entry
A traditional architectural feature: a doorway that is inset from the front facade of a building.

Residential Building
A house or apartment building that has residences on all floors, including the ground floor.

A publicly owned strip of land to allow for publicly used construction such as sidewalks, streets, alleys and utilities.

Refers to the relative size of a building, street fixture, sign, or other architectural element.

The distance of a facade of a building from the corresponding property line; front yard and side yard setbacks may exist for a given site.

Shopping Center
A group of stores and often restaurants and other businesses having a common parking lot. Typically an auto-oriented, suburban building type.

Shopping Mall
A group of stores and businesses facing a system of enclosed walks.

Significant Building
A building that is not historic but has local significance.

A traditional architectural feature: the horizontal element at the bottom of a window or door frame.

A lot or parcel of real estate.

The ground floor of a commercial or mixed-use building, traditionally with large windows.

Sustainable Neighborhoods
Healthy neighborhoods that encourage pedestrian safety and comfort so that residents can walk from their homes to shopping areas. Transit options like busses and trains are typically present in sustainable neighborhoods.

Transom Window
A small horizontal window located above a door or window to allow in light or air.

A small tower, often on the corner of a building.

The purpose or activity for which the land or building is designed, arranged, or intended, or for which it is occupied or maintained.

Vertical Element
A detail of a building that extends vertically along a facade, such as a pier or column.

Appendix C PDF Format (1.90 MB)

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