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Everyone in the building business admits some unease over government-imposed design review — the idea that a city official or an unpaid board can say yes or no in matters of architectural taste. Developers worry that forced beautification, as some call it, slows progress and adds cost. Architects fear that established standards force them to think inside the box, rather than to dream up new things.
Nearly everyone has concerns that regulations could limit property rights and increase bureaucracy, that they put too much power in the hands of neighborhood associations and NIMBY activists who could dominate the process, that it’s impossible to agree on aesthetic choices.
Yet nearly everyone backs them, especially now in Denver, where the construction boom is on and the consensus is that a lot of buildings are going up that disrespect the character of their surroundings and harm the city’s image as a capital of progressive, Western living. Ugly might be hard to define, but there is widespread agreement that it’s on the rise. […]