Industrial/Employment Design Guidelines

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Table of Contents

A. Introduction:



Use of Guidelines 

Relationship to General Plan and Land Development Code 


B. Site Design & Planning: 

Contextual Relationship To Adjacent Residential and Commercial 

Building Orientation 

Pedestrian and Employee Amenities and Hardscape 

Vehicular Circulation and Parking 

Loading Areas and Accessory Equipment 

Signage and Wall Design 

Landscaping and Grading 


C. Building Design:



Freestanding Accessory Structures 

D. Environmental Sensitivity


Purpose: The purpose of this document is to:

Communicate with the development community in advance the design expectations for Industrial/Employment projects to facilitate the review process. Industrial/Employment projects are those proposed within the Business Park, Light Industrial and General Industrial zoning districts. 

Facilitate the fair and consistent application of design objectives. 

Protect investment in the community by encouraging consistently high quality development. 

Foster a sense of community and encourage pride of ownership. 

Facilitate safe, functional and attractive development. 

Encourage projects appropriate to the context of the arid desert environment. 

Facilitate accessibility for trucks, other vehicles, and rail service while buffering non-industrial uses. 

Accommodate outdoor business storage functions in industrial parks while buffering non-industrial uses. 

Encourage separation of larger commercial vehicles from passenger vehicles. 

Encourage reduction of the “heat island” effect, by appropriately designed shading of hard surface areas such as parking fields and outdoor business property storage areas, and evaluation of cool roof surfaces to mitigate warming effects. 

Encourage development of shaded outdoor spaces for the use and benefit of employees. 

Encourage sustainable site and building design to reduce negative impacts and conserve energy. 

Applicability: To achieve these Purposes, the Guidelines apply to all new industrial and employment developments and their substantial alterations that require approval by the Design Review Board or planning staff. They are also intended for use by staff when Maricopa County requests input on industrial or employment proposals within unincorporated parts of Gilbert's planning area. These guidelines should be used by developers when designing projects, referenced by the Design Review Board when reviewing projects and by the Town Council when hearing appeals of Design Review Board decisions. These guidelines are also applicable for staff review.

Use of Guidelines: 

The provisions set forth in this document identify the desired level of design quality for industrial/employment development. However, flexibility is necessary and encouraged to achieve excellent designs. To that end, the use of the words shall and must have been purposely avoided within the specific guidelines. Each application for industrial/employment development, however, should demonstrate to what extent it incorporates these guidelines. 

Applications that do not meet specific guidelines applicable to that project should provide rationale and explain how the proposed design will improve the project by better meeting the intent of the General Plan, LDC and these Guidelines. The determination as to whether a project provides an improved design will be made through the design review findings required by the Land Development Code as determined by the Design Review Board. 

Relationship between the General Plan, Land Development Code and Industrial Design Guidelines: The approval process for industrial development is guided by the General Plan, the Land Development Code and the Industrial Design Guidelines. 

General Plan : The voter-approved policy document that sets the development vision of the community. It provides policy direction for land use, vehicular and bicycle circulation, water and environmental issues, open space and recreation, community growth, housing, and cost of development. 

Land Development Code : An ordinance that implements the General Plan by establishing land use and development requirements in zoning districts. The Land Development Code (LDC) provides specific minimum development criteria. 

Industrial Design Guidelines : Establishes Town of Gilbert suggested principles for designing quality industrial development. Certain items apply to site planning and others to building design and aesthetics. 

Organization: The guidelines are divided into three sections: Site Planning, Building Design and Environmental Sensitivity. Within each section are a number of design principles and measures that address the different elements of site and building design and environmental sensitivity. 

Large industrial uses present unique design challenges


Planning for development on a site encompasses items such as its relationship to surrounding uses, building orientation on the site, pedestrian and vehicular circulation, and efficiency of parking areas, screening of loading and utility areas, and the design of landscaping, signage and lighting.

1. Relationship to Adjacent Residential and Commercial: 

a) Encourage low-scale design and adequate buffering when industrial/employment developments are located adjacent to existing and future residential and commercial developments. 

b) Orient utilitarian uses such as trash enclosures, compactors, truck loading areas and outdoor storage away from residential uses to the extent practical.

2. Building Orientation: 

a) Orient office uses forward, toward the front of the site. 

b). Separate public/visitor areas from truck delivery and maneuvering areas. 

3. Pedestrian and Employee Amenities and Hardscape: 

a) In large multi-building projects such as business or industrial parks, prepare master pedestrian circulation plans addressing connections between buildings and connections to supporting commercial land uses in lieu of sidewalks on both sides of internal streets. 

b) In large multi-building projects, organize the site layout to provide functional employee spaces, including shade structures and amenities between or in front of buildings. 

Employee seating in shaded courtyard

c) Provide weather and sun protection, such as overhangs, awnings, canopies, etc. to mitigate climatic and solar conditions. 

d) Accessible parking spaces should be convenient to building entries. 

e) Where industrial/employment areas adjoin existing or proposed public transit routes, developers are encouraged to provide shaded, safe, well lighted and aesthetically pleasing bus stops and incorporate bus “pullouts.” 

f) Provide convenient pedestrian access between bus stops and adjacent industrial/employment buildings. 

g) Disperse bicycle parking facilities throughout larger sites and locate them in convenient and visible areas in close proximity to primary building entrances. 

h) Provide for a continuation of pedestrian access when industrial developments are located adjacent to existing or planned open space. 

i) Design patios and pedestrian areas with architectural and landscape shade elements. 

4. Vehicular Circulation and Parking: 

a) Encourage separation of heavy equipment traffic from employee traffic. 

b) Coordinate circulation and parking areas with adjoining sites to the extent possible. 

c) Developments that exceed the parking required by the LDC or recognized industry standard are discouraged. 

d) Disperse parking into smaller fields instead of large paved areas and consider cooler paving materials. 

e) Avoid duplicating circulation routes in excess of adequate fire access; reduce pavement widths whenever possible in favor of greater landscaped open space. 

f) Parking and utility screen wall design should follow the common exterior wall treatment for the industrial subdivision or be coordinated with the building design. 

g) Locate parking lot screen walls outside of required landscape areas. 

h) Use canopy trees in parking lots to break up the scale of large parking lots, provide additional shading and reduce “heat island” impacts. 

i) Maintain opportunities for railroad access in industrial parks that are adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad mainline. 

Smaller parking areas with canopy trees

5. Loading Areas and Accessory Equipment: 

a) Service areas, loading and storage areas, and refuse enclosures should be oriented away from public street frontages or screened from these frontages. 

b) Design refuse enclosures with decorative masonry walls and sight-tight gates to match design features of the industrial development.

Unfavorable: Loading docks oriented towards street 
with unscreened refuse enclosure

c) Where service electrical system (S.E.S.) panels are visible from off-site, recess panels into the building elevation and screen with doors, screen with landscaping or a solid wall (with landscaping) built of similar building materials and colors of the main development and equal to or exceeding the height of the S.E.S. panel.

d) Locate ground-mounted utility cabinets where they do not conflict with prominent site views or impair vehicle site distances and can be screened from major streets and public areas. Paint cabinets and screen walls to match the principal structure. Where space allows, provide landscaping in front of screening walls. 

e) Strive to ensure that ground-mounted utility equipment and cabinets are level and at the grade of the surrounding area. 

6. Signage and Wall Design:

a) In large multi-building projects , coordinate signage design and materials, including building addresses, to create a consistent style of building identification. 

b) In large multi-building projects , street number signs should be provided at main entrances using directory signs. On individual buildings, building address numbers should be readable from the street. 

c) In industrial subdivisions having no approved perimeter wall theme, developers of perimeter lots should use a consistent design on the outside of their rear walls that are visible from arterial streets or open space.

7. Landscaping and Grading:

a) In large multi-building projects, applicants should prepare master drainage plans addressing common stormwater retention needs.

Favorable: Master planned landscaped retention area

Favorable: Master planned landscaped drainage channels

b) Design retention basins that are visible from public streets and common open spaces to avoid a "bathtub" or linear channel appearance. Highly visible retention basins should be contoured using curvilinear design. and landscaped with a combination of vegetative and non-vegetative materials. 

c) Design the project landscape theme to complement and enhance project architecture. 

d) As a general rule, low water use and drought tolerant trees and plants are preferred. 

e) Incorporate street frontage landscaping consistent with the adopted streetscape districts and General Plan Character Areas. 

f) Incorporate perimeter landscaping where sites border non-industrial uses. 

g) Design arterial street intersection frontage with substantial hardscape and landscape features, creative grading design, seasonal color, art and/or vertical landscape focal points. Incorporate “Welcome to Gilbert” features at designated entrances to the Town. 

h) For large multi-building projects, incorporate prominent entry features, vertical landscape forms and/or seasonal color at both vehicular and pedestrian project entrances appropriate to the scale of the project. 

i) Shade trees should be located throughout all paved parking areas wherever they are located on site and in association with pedestrian and employee amenities and gathering areas. Enclosed service, loading and storage areas are excluded. 

j) Provide significant foundation and/or accent plantings, including trees, around buildings to accentuate or screen building and parking structure elements. 

k) Provide low-profile accent plantings at the base of monument signs. 

l) In highly visible areas, use taller and larger caliper trees. 

m) Use predominately deciduous shade trees adjacent to west, south and southwest exposures to cool these elevations. 

n) For the overall site, use a mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees. 

o) If retaining walls are necessary in retention basins, they should be terraced and landscaped to reduce their visual scale. 

p) Coordinate landscaping plans with above and below ground utility locations.

Desert landscape design providing shade and color

8. Lighting:

a) Provide pedestrian scale lighting fixtures adjacent to pedestrian paths and employee amenities. Select lighting fixtures that complement the general architectural style of the development. 

b) Highlighting of significant architectural features, specimen trees and artwork with accent lighting should be considered. Lighting an entire building or major portion thereof is discouraged. 

c) Provide security lighting that is both effective and attractive to promote a safe and secure facility. 

1. Massing: 

The visual impact of a building depends not only on its size, but also its use. Some industrial buildings, by their nature, are large and massive. Manufacturing and warehouse operations will generally be more massive than buildings which have large office components. 

a) Forms and shapes should be used to break up building mass where practical and consistent with the proportions of the architectural style selected and surrounding uses.

b) Where the building mass cannot be broken up due to unique use constraints, i.e. manufacturing or warehouse space, building walls should be articulated through the use of texture, color, material changes, shadow lines and other façade treatments.

c) Encourage the architectural integration of exposed industrial systems and equipment as a design option where practical.

Unfavorable: Exposed industrial facilities can be
architecturally integrated into the design

Favorable: Building design using forms and shapes 
to break up building mass

2. Design:

Articulate facades to provide a visual effect that is consistent with the character and scale of the area.

a) All elevations generally visible from public view should reflect the overall design, colors and textures used on the front façade. 

b) Design multi-building projects to include consistent design elements throughout the project. 

c) Fully screen roof mounted mechanical equipment. 

d) Internalize roof drain elements within the building or apply an architectural feature where visible from streets and public areas. 

e) Predominant exterior building materials should be of high quality, energy efficient and durable. These include, but are not limited to:


Stone, natural or faux. 

Integral color, sand blasted or stained textured masonry. 

Split-face or scored concrete masonry units. 

Textured tilt-up concrete panels. 


Metal roofs. 

Concrete and clay tile roofs.

Light colored or reflective “Cool roofs”.

Clear and tinted glass. 

Architectural metal. 

Prefabricated steel panels and corrugated metal where architecturally integrated. 

f) Building trim and accent areas may feature contrasting building materials and different colors than the building field color, including use of primary colors, if compatible with the architectural design.

g) Buildings should have clearly defined public and employee entrances incorporating a combination of elements such as: 

Canopies or porticos 



Arcades . 

Raised corniced parapets over the door. 

Peaked roof forms. 


Entrance framed by outdoor pedestrian features or enhanced landscaping. 

Architectural details such as tile work and moldings integrated into the building structure to frame the entryway. 

Integral planters or wing walls that incorporate landscaped areas and/or sitting areas. 

Enhanced pedestrian surfaces. 

3. Freestanding Accessory Structures:

Enclosed service/refuse areas and covered parking should be designed to be an integral part of the building architecture. The forms, colors, textures and materials used on the main building should be applied to all sides of these structures when visible to the public.

Architectural details and enhanced landscape 
improve the appearance of buildings


The following measures that promote environmental sensitivity and potential long-term cost savings are offered for consideration by the development community: 

Orient and design new structures and additions for minimum solar gain, reflectivity and glare, and to achieve an optimum level of energy efficiency. 

Shelter entries and windows and use architectural shading devices and landscaping to minimize cooling losses. 

Use energy efficient materials in doors and windows. 

Use energy efficient lighting. 

Mitigate urban heat island effects with cool roofing materials, shade trees and cool paving materials. EPA Website:

Reference national programs for environmentally sensitive development methods such as Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED), International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and Energy Star Labeled Buildings. Websites: and

Encourage the integration of solar panels on roofs and carports.