New Design Guidelines Approved to Enhance Downtown McLean's Appearance

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Downtown McLean


The Board of Supervisors endorsed new design guidelines for downtown McLean on Sept. 12. The McLean Design Guidelines offer a comprehensive collection of written and visual concepts for enhancing the aesthetics of streets, lighting, and the areas adjacent to buildings within the McLean Commercial Revitalization District (CRD). This marks a significant step forward in the ongoing efforts to rejuvenate the downtown area and give it a more attractive and vibrant look. Moving forward, the Guidelines will be used when proposing, designing, or reviewing development projects.

The Guidelines are the result of a multi-year effort involving research, the development of draft versions, and multiple community engagement opportunities. Feedback from McLean residents played a vital role in shaping the design direction and underscored shared desires for downtown McLean; maintaining a small town feel with brick sidewalks, street trees, outdoor cafes, lively park spaces and lush landscapes.

In a letter to the Board of Supervisors, the McLean Citizen’s Association expressed their support for the Guidelines stating, “We believe the Guidelines are an excellent example of county staff and community collaboration in planning for the future of downtown McLean.”


Vision of A Neighborhood Village

The Guidelines characterize McLean as a neighborhood village with a small-town feel, a variety of gathering spaces that foster social interaction; diversity of local businesses; well-designed streetscapes; and off-street pathways offering comfortable connections within and around McLean.


High Quality Streetscapes 

The Guidelines call for:

  • Brick paver sidewalks
  • Street trees and multi-layered landscaping
  • Outdoor dining areas and gathering spaces
  • Thoughtful integration of signage and lighting
  • Benches, trash and recycling receptacles, and bike racks that fit the character of the area


Signature Urban Park

The Guidelines envision a future central gathering space in the heart of McLean, like a town square or village green. The park will provide social and recreational opportunities for users of all ages and abilities.


Enhanced Gateways

The Guidelines mark the entrances to McLean for special landscaping, pavers, and signage to create a sense of arrival and help distinguish downtown McLean.


Exceptional Building Design

The Guidelines share strategies to create high quality and engaging architecture that minimizes the visual impact of parking areas.

Adoption of these guidelines marks a crucial step in communicating the urban design vision for the area, which is described in the McLean Community Business Center Comprehensive Plan, adopted in the fall of 2021.

The McLean Design Guidelines and more information about this work is available on the project webpage.

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