The City of Manassas Architectural Review Board encourages the use of art, particularly sculptures and murals, as a way to engage residents and visitors, create community identity, and highlight artistic creativity. The installation of public art also supports the City’s arts and tourism initiatives. Public art is any art that is visible to the public regardless of whether it is on public or private property. Mural art in particular is widely considered one of the oldest methods of artistic expression and can enhance a historic district.

The City of Manassas Zoning Ordinance designates the painting of non-residential structures resulting in a different color, such as mural art, as a substantial alteration requiring approval of the Architectural Review Board. The painting of mural art on small building elements, such as individual bricks and utility appurtenances (such as downspouts or raceways), shall not be considered a substantial alteration.

The Architectural Review Board does not review the content of art; rather, the ARB review is limited to how proposed art installations impact historic architecture and the overall character of the historic overlay district. Art visible from the public right of way should add to the community while respecting the historic architecture and the design integrity of the district. The ARB does not review art-based projects on public property that are temporary installations in such locations that have been deemed to be appropriate for rotating public art exhibits.

  1. The subsequent guidelines will be applied to contributing, landmark, and non-historic structures in the same manner.
  2. Alterations made to buildings within the Historic Overlay District(s) for arts-based projects should be reversible and not damage the features of historic landmarks or contributing buildings.
  3. Existing historic architectural details on primary facades should not be altered, covered over, or diminished by arts-based projects.
  4. 4. Decorative details and arts-based appendages such as sculptures, etc. on facades may be approved. These appendages should be affixed at mortar joints to avoid damage to masonry.
  5. Content distinguishes arts-based projects from signage. While a sign specifically advertises a business, product or service through graphics or text, murals or other projects are solely artistic in nature. Arts-based projects that include information related to a business, product, or service will be considered a sign and are required to meet current zoning regulations related to, but not limited to, size and placement. When an official interpretation is deemed necessary, the Zoning Administrator will determine if a proposal is a mural, sculpture, or sign. Generally, arts-based projects do not include trademarks, service marks, or other markings, colors, or patterns identifying or associated with a business, profession, trade, occupation, or calling.
  6. Mechanically produced or computer-generated prints or images, including but not limited to digitally printed vinyl are not permitted.

Please contact Patty Prince or Matt Arcieri if you wish to create a mural in the City of Manassas.

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