National Capital Area Design Review Committee

Note: Similar individual Design Review Committees have been established in each region, with minor variances (as applicable) in process, committee membership, and external, federal and agency authorities.


As an adjunct to the National Design Review Committee, the National Capital Area (NCA) Design Review Committee (NCA-DRC) is established to provide advise and support to project managers (PM) in the quality review of design aspects of primarily major, sensitive and complex projects. While the aim of the committee is to provide quality assurance in the product and service output by professional and technical specialist disciplines, the formal reviews are not intended to replace the ongoing process of review and quality monitoring by professional disciplines prior to presentation to the committee. Submission criteria addresses projects in both the building and civil engineering fields. Some of the submission requirements will not apply to civil structures and/or other engineering projects. Agreement should be reached with the Chair prior to the presentations.

Committee Membership

  • Chairperson: National Manager, Architecture, National Director, Civil Engineering
  • Secretary: As nominated by the Chair
  • Permanent Membership: Applicable Senior Project Managers and Project Managers at the discretion of the Chair
  • Others (as required): Specialists as required from a wide variety of internal professional, technical, contractual, legal disciplines, industry representatives, client teams, etc. (at discretion of Chair)

Note: Design Review Committees are an excellent mechanism for the demonstration and promotion of Real Property Branch (RPB) valued added services


Primarily major, sensitive, or complex projects as identified by Director. Committee members work to ensure that projects delivered within RPB provide:

  • high quality and excellence in technical and aesthetic aspects in accordance with the level of quality defined by the project team and client;
  • value for money in terms of meeting client and RPB objectives;
  • sound, competent and responsible advice to help clients make informed decisions;
  • cost-conscious solutions that enable implementation within approved budgets;
  • realistic responses to approved time plans and schedules;
  • accurate responses to the objectives and criteria for the project as identified in the Project Brief, Project Charter and other project definition documents;
  • responses to government objectives with respect to the environment.


  • All projects with a total design and construction budget between $5 M and $25 M. Projects with a design and construction budget exceeding this amount are to be submitted to the National Design Review Committee.
  • Projects of a sensitive nature or those that have a high media profile and/or potential for special or unusual environmental impact.
  • Major internal retrofits, energy systems upgrades, space optimization/modernization plans, new officing strategies and similar projects with major short and long-term cost implications.
  • All projects requiring the approval of external federal departments or agencies i.e., National Capital Commission Advisory Committee on planning, design and realty or the Federal Heritage Building Review Office (FHBRO).
  • All projects involving parliamentary accommodation.

Meeting Frequency and Location

  • At the discretion of Director Project Management (Regional Manager in other regions).
  • Reviews take place at schematic design and design development phases of the project unless other arrangements are made with the Chair.
  • NCA-DRC, at its discretion, may waive the requirement for a full two-part review after the initial submission if project scope and time frame dictate.
  • Meetings are normally scheduled within three weeks of the request (time frame can be accelerated to suit project specifics at the discretion of the Chair).
  • Committee meetings will be held in the Grande-Prairie Boardroom on Level 8A2 B1, Place du Portage III, Gatineau, Quebec unless otherwise determined by the Chair.
  • Additional meetings to review the impacts of scope changes occurring on the project, subsequent to the original design approval, may be required to develop alternate or revised designs/strategies at the discretion of the Director Project Management.
  • Where the submission must subsequently be presented to external federal departments or agencies with approving authority (e.g. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, National Capital Commission, etc.), the presentation to the NCA-DRC should be scheduled at least one week prior to such external presentation(s).

Roles and Responsibilities

Project Manager will:

  • provide adequate time in the project schedule to allow for the two-part review process.
  • ensure project funding is adequate to facilitate all committee reviews required.
  • obtain prior approval from a Senior Project Manager (SPM) for a review.

Senior Project Manager will:

  • advise the Director, Project Management and the Real Property Team (RPT) Director of the need for a committee prior to the presentation.
  • ensure that projects requiring review are submitted via e-mail to the committee Secretary with all pertinent facts together with a completed 'Request for Design Review Committee form'.

Secretary will:

  • provide a notice of meeting containing the agenda, time, location and completed 'Request for Design Review Committee form' with attachments to committee members, SPM and PM one week prior to the meeting.
  • provide for meeting facilities/support services for each meeting.


Chairperson: maintains a record of decisions and follow-up as required.

Secretary: issues the DRC decision containing a summary of recommendations and directions within fifteen (15) days after the review to all committee members and senior management as applicable.

PM: prepares a written response to the Chair within fifteen (15) days, indicating how the recommendations and directions will be addressed.


Time charges and overhead expenses for NCA-DRC are to be recovered from within established project funding.


Director, Professional and Technical Programs

NCA Review Committee (Submissions Process)

The submission process for all projects requiring an NCA Regional Design Review Committee (NCA-DRC) review is as follows (in a sequential order):

Project Manager provides the Secretary with:

  • completed 'Request for NCA DRC form' including all attachments.
  • preferred date, time and location for the review including two additional 'fallback' dates for scheduling purposes.
  • a list of all project team members (consultants, client, real property team representatives, etc.) whose attendance is required.
  • a list of any supplementary audio-visual equipment (screens, overhead projectors, flip charts, easels, etc.) required for the presentation.


  • confirms the submissions request, date, time and location with committee members and the PM.
  • issues the Notice of Meeting to committee members, the SPM and PM at least one week prior to the meeting with a copy to the RPT Director and Director Project Management.

Project Manager:

  • introduces the project team members and presents the project details identified in the 'NCA-DRC Presentation Documents' (duration of presentation varies between thirty (30) and sixty (60) minutes based on the complexity of the project).


  • issues draft 'Decision Record' including a summary of the committee's recommendations and directions, to the Chair and PM within ten (10) working days after the review.
  • issues a final 'Decision Record' to committee members and the PM within fifteen (15) working days after the review with a copy to the SPM, and the RPT Director.

Project Manager:

  • prepares a written response to the Chair within fifteen (15) working days, indicating how the committee's recommendations and directions will be addressed.

NCA-DRC Presentation Documents

Documents required to effectively communicate project intent, process and recommendations will vary depending on the project scope and objectives. The following is a list of typical information required in order of presentation.

Schematic Design

The general intent of this stage is to present the project background and objectives to NCA-DRC and ensure the integrity of the recommended site/building development option and project delivery prior to proceeding with design development. The information required and order of presentation is as follows:

Terms of Reference:

  • provide Project Charter, brief description of project, special features, unique design issues, client consideration and issues, risk analysis, time, cost and other constraints, including summary of project brief or corporate control package.
  • identify any issues or contemplated issues regarding building or occupancy permits with the municipality.

Analysis of Client Requirements:

  • functional program;
  • circulation requirements of people, vehicles, goods, etc.;
  • implication of client requirements on architectural structural, mechanical, electrical, heritage and other disciplines;
  • influences on zoning and relationship of spaces caused by noise, need for daylight, energy conservation and other special requirements;
  • anticipation of expansion and future changes of use;
  • indication that analysis and concept stage addresses optional strategies.

Analysis of Site, Surroundings and Climate:

  • analysis of site and surroundings for context aspects which could affect project such as zoning, views, traffic, subsoil conditions, natural features, future development, area master plan, etc.
  • determination of environmental assessment requirements;
  • analysis of impact of project on site and surroundings, beneficial, detrimental, action required if it could be deemed detrimental;
  • social impact of project on local community and region;
  • climatic conditions as they affect the site and project needs and objectives;
  • additional information such as diagrams, charts, Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Impact of Government Policies and Programs:

  • identification of issues related to policies on sustainability, connectivity, supportive work environments, energy, procurement, investment strategy etc., including additional constraints or opportunities not included above.

Interrelationship of Analysis:

  • graphic illustrations of preceding factors to demonstrate their interrelationships and indicate recommended direction for conceptual studies. i.e. sketches required might be:
    • 'concept' diagrams in plan and sections showing relative locations on site;
    • circulation in principle, constraints on massing, form, etc.;
    • other constraints/opportunities.

Design Criteria:

  • identification of most critical aspects of client requirements, site analysis, sustainability, connectivity, supportive work environments, energy conservation, other government policies, etc., against which design options can be evaluated.

Site Development:

  • detailed options considered for site development: including plans, photographs, sections (note: response of options to criteria must be identified).

Building/Structure Development:

  • detailed options considered for massing, organization, appearance and engineering of building including input of major disciplines. Include response to sustainability, connectivity and supportive work environment initiatives.
    Would require:
    • plans
    • sections
    • elevations
    • sketch perspective, if desirable
    • massing models, if desirable
    • structural, mechanical and electrical concepts and
    • equipment room locations supported by sketches.
    • outline reports, options analysis, energy analyses and outstanding issues.
    • Environmental Assessment Screening Report
      (Note: response of options to criteria is to be shown)

Cost Plan (Indicative):

  • identify response to approved budget and issues related to meeting project objectives.


  • identify response to approved time plan and whether problems are foreseen.


  • identify recommended option, opportunities, next steps, corrective action if any, etc.

Design Development

The general intent of this stage is to ensure the integrity of the final site/building design and project delivery prior to proceeding with implementation. Generally, submissions at this stage shall describe systems and subsystems in all disciplines. Information required and order of presentation:

Terms of References:

  • provide brief description of project, special features, time, cost and other constraints, including outstanding issues and approvals received from previous presentations.

Design Objectives and Philosophy:

  • establish the objectives the design is to meet, based on client requirements, site requirements, government policy and initiatives, PWGSC/PSPC and client sustainable development strategy commitments, community needs, energy conservation, etc.
  • provide statement on how these are to be achieved, i.e. the design philosophy. (note: development from approved design criteria).

Urban/Regional Context and Climatic Conditions:

  • identify the site nature and location and its implications in terms of zoning, traffic, future development, constraints, existing building styles, etc.
    Would require:
    • photographs
    • plans
    • sections showing topography
    • Climatic conditions as they affect the site and project needs and objectives: diagrams as required

Site Development:

  • explanation of how site is to be developed to respond to needs of project, constraints of surrounding area and climate.
    Would require:
    • plans
    • sections
    • details as needed to support design
    • design of any mitigation measures, preparation of a follow-up program

Building/Structure Development:

  • explanation of resolution of design in total, including structural, mechanical, electrical systems, coordination of other disciplines and special requirements;
  • update response to sustainability, connectivity and supportive work environment initiatives;
  • incorporate work of various disciplines or discipline presentations as separate documents as determined by the needs of the project;
  • identify special features clearly, e.g. graphic display of circulation, of spatial zoning, mechanical/electrical distribution and equipment rooms, energy conservation techniques, etc.
    Would include:
    • plans
    • sections
    • elevations
    • perspective
    • details as needed to support design model (if required)
    • reports: to level of detail described in project brief for each discipline and subject area

Cost Plan (Substantive):

  • provide costing up to the level of detail described in project brief.


  • provide scheduling to the level of detail described in project brief.


  • identify how the project should proceed, what are the next steps, etc.

Forms, samples and checklists