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Urban Design Review Panel

Ottawa’s Urban Design Review Panel is an independent advisory panel of volunteer professionals who provide an objective peer review of both capital and private sector development projects throughout the City’s Design Priority Areas. The Panel is an important addition to the City’s formal design review process and is intended to enhance the City’s capabilities in achieving architectural and urban design excellence.

The City of Ottawa’s Urban Design Review Panel was approved by City Council and made permanent on Thursday, October 6, 2010.

For more information, please contact:

David Maloney
Right of Way, Heritage and Urban Design Services
Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department
City of Ottawa
110 av Laurier Avenue West - 4th Floor
Ottawa, ON, K1P 1J1
P: 613.580.2424 ext. 14057

Applications subject to the Urban Design Review Panel process

Development proposals located within the following Design Priority Areas are subject to the Ottawa’s Urban Design Review Panel process as detailed below.

  1. Downtown Precincts as defined by the Downtown Ottawa Urban Design Strategy (DOUDS;
  2. Traditional and Arterial Mainstreets as identified on Schedule B of the Official Plan;
  3. Mixed Use Centres as identified on Schedule B of the Official Plan;
  4. Other areas with special design needs such as the mainstreets within Villages designated on Schedule ‘A’ of the Official Plan, Village core areas identified in Volume 2C of the Official Plan, community core areas identified in community design plans or secondary plans approved by City Council.

Design Priority Areas Map (Urban)

The Panel will provide urban design advice and input on:

  1. Zoning By-law applications proposed within Design Priority Areas (DPAs) where there is a request for a change in density or height
  2. Site Plan Control applications proposed within DPAs. 
  3. Public capital projects occurring in DPAs such as new buildings, major renovations to public buildings, major infrastructure projects and streetscaping projects.

There are nine exceptions to the above-mentioned applications. The Panel will NOT review applications within DPAs that are:

  • Small scale residential projects (for example, residential developments below nine units)
  • Commercial and institutional development less than 1,858 square metres (20,000 square feet) Gross Floor Area (GFA)
  • Revisions to plans that have received design approval where the change maintains the overall design response associated with the initial approval
  • Additions to buildings that are not located along a public right-of-way
  • Parking lots
  • Restaurant Conversions subject to Site Plan Control
  • Public and private park development (they are already subject to a detailed design process involving community input)
  • Proposals subject to P3 agreements
  • Proposals within the Arterial Mainstreet Designation beyond 40 m from the Right-of-Way (for example, a retail pad at the rear of a large lot). This exception is intended to focus the Panel’s efforts on the proposal’s relationship to the public realm. For large undeveloped sites, this exception may not apply and will be at the Panel co-coordinator’s discretion.
  • Proposals which have been deemed by the UDRP to warrant sub-committee review and are subject to the subcommittee process.

Of special note: Projects in DPAs that require design approval from the Ottawa Built Heritage Advisory Committee (OBHAC) or National Capital Commission (NCC) will be subject to Panel design review; however, Panel recommendations will be forwarded to the applicable organizational body for information and final design approval.

How Design Review fits within the Development Application Process

Prior to meeting with the UDRP, the applicant must have met with City staff for a pre-consultation, received written design direction from City staff and have had their development application deemed complete.

  1. Pre-application consultation with City staff 
  2. Written design direction received from City staff
  3. Application submission
  4. Application deemed complete
  5. Community “heads up”
  6. Circulation to technical agencies, community associations and Ward Councillors begins (circulation lasts 28 days) (Formal consultation with Ottawa Urban Design Review Panel)
  7. Posting of on-site signs
  8. Community information and comment session
  9. Issue resolution – staff memorandum or Committee report preparation
  10. Notice of decision
  11. Notice of public meeting (for rezoning applications or where delegated approval authority for a Site Plan Control Application has been lifted)
  12. Notice of decision by Committee or Council (for rezoning applications or where delegated approval authority for a Site Plan Control Application has been lifted)

Submission requirements

The applicant is required to provide detailed submission materials two weeks prior to the Panel meeting (see Panel Meeting Schedule). Staff will pull an application from the agenda of a Panel meeting if the submission is late or if the requirements are not met. If the UDRP submission materials are submitted on time and are deemed complete, the applicant will be notified of the time and location for their scheduled meeting with the Panel approximately a week ahead of the meeting.

For an applicant to get on an UDRP meeting agenda:

The applicant must have a formal pre-consultation with City staff before the submission package deadline.

  • Written comments and initial design direction from staff must be received prior to the submission package deadline.
  • The site plan application and/or zoning by-law amendment must be submitted to the City, been deemed complete by the File Lead and be posted on the City's Development Applications website.
  • The applicant must notify the File Lead and the Panel Co-ordinator of their intention to be on the upcoming agenda before the submission package deadline.
  • The applicant must submit all required submission materials by the submission deadline. All eligible projects will be added to the final agenda on a first-come, first-serve basis. Submission materials shall be professionally prepared, legible, clear, to scale and accurately represent all the design aspects of the project in question.

Please note, even if an applicant has submitted a timely and complete package and has made it onto the draft agenda, they may still be bumped to the next meeting if there are more items than the Panel can hear in one session. Under exceptional circumstances, where Panel quorum is available and willing, additional applications may be heard.

An optional pre-consultation with the UDRP is available to proponents and may be recommended by staff for complex or significant projects. Pre-consultations will be informal meetings with the Panel and submission materials will vary from case to case, at the File Lead's discretion.

For a submission package to the UDRP to be deemed complete it must include the following materials:

  • Applicant project summary sheet
  • Submission package. All materials are to be submitted in PDF format at 11 x 17 inch size and batched into a single file, not exceeding 20MB. Due to email size limitations, only files under 12MB may be submitted via email. Should the size of the submission exceed 12MB, it is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that it is successfully delivered to the Panel Co-ordinator via a file sharing system (eg. FTP server, Dropbox, WeTransfer) by the submission deadline. To be complete, the submission package must include the following:
    • Photographs to illustrate existing site conditions and surrounding contexts. Include a map pinpointing (with numbers) where each photo is taken and correspond these numbers with the site photos. Arrows illustrating the direction the photo is taken is also useful.
    • A design brief, largely written and approximately 4 pages in length including:
      • A concise summary and response to the applicable City urban design guidelines and policies.
      • A set of site-specific urban design objectives, derived from the pre-application consultation with City staff and a concise summary and response to the urban design issues identified at the pre-application consultation with City staff.
      • A contextual analysis that discusses/illustrates abutting properties, key destinations and linkages within a 100 m radius (a larger radius may be requested for larger/more complex projects), such as transit stations; transportation networks for cars, cyclists, and pedestrians; focal points/nodes; gateways; parks/open spaces; topography; views towards the site; the urban pattern (streets, blocks); future and current proposals, public art, heritage resources, etc.
      • An explanation of any sustainability measures taken.
    • Models and/or illustrations that show the project massing and figure ground relationships in its urban context.
    • Detailed perspective drawings or computer models (placing particular emphasis on the first few storeys and how the project responds to and relates to its urban context). Perspective drawings should be set within the existing streetscape, indicating fit within development on both sides of the street. The intent is to show the Panel how the proposed development's design and scale relate to existing context; as well, massing illustrations provide the Panel with an understanding of the overarching approach to the design of the site.
    • Site plan (showing setbacks).
    • Landscape Plan.
    • Building Elevations (detailing proposed materials and colours)
    • A plan showing existing and proposed servicing.
    • Section and floor plans
    • Sun/shadow studies, if requested by City staff during pre-consultation.
    • Wind studies for development, if requested by City staff during pre-consultation.
    • Portions of building elevations at a 1:50 scale, if requested by Staff during pre-consultation.
  • Presentation in PowerPoint or PDF format. There is a file size limit of 20MB. It is at the applicant's discretion as to whether or not they would like their presentation to be the same or different from their submission package, however it cannot contain plans or models that were not included in the submission package. The presentation must be submitted at the same time as the submission package. Presentations brought the day-of the UDRP meeting will not be accepted.

The Submission Package is prepared by the proponent. The Submission Package should highlight the key urban design features of a proposal. It should explain why the proposed development represents the most appropriate design solution and should not be a reflection of, or an argument for, a preferred development scheme.

The Submission Package should include text, diagrams, plans, sections, illustrations, perspectives and photographs to illustrate the intent, results and impacts of the design. It should be largely graphical, with the textual component being about four pages long.

The following urban design considerations should be discussed within the Submission Package: site design, built form, building articulation, character, architectural treatment, lighting, signage, servicing, heritage considerations and green technologies/considerations.

The Submission Package is not to include long excerpts of text from the Official Plan or from any applicable secondary plan or community design plan.

Panel Meeting Schedule and Submission Package Deadlines

Meeting Schedule 2018

Location: City Hall

Meeting Schedule
Meeting date Submission deadline for proponent (material submitted to City Planning staff by 4 p.m.)
Thursday, December 7, 2017 Thursday, November 23, 2017
Thursday, January 11, 2018 Thursday, December 28, 2017
Thursday, February 1, 2018 Thursday, January 18, 2018
Thursday, March 1, 2018 Thursday, February 15, 2018
Thursday, April 5, 2018 Thursday, March 22, 2018
Thursday, May 3, 2018 Thursday, April 19, 2018
Thursday, June 7, 2018 Thursday, May 24, 2018
Thursday, July 5, 2018 Thursday, June 21, 2018
August, 2018 – No Meeting
Thursday, September 6, 2018 Thursday, August 23, 2018
Thursday, October 4, 2018 Thursday, September 20, 2018
Thursday, November 1, 2018 Thursday, October 18, 2018
Thursday, December 6, 2018 Thursday, November 22, 2018

Applicant tip sheet

Information for Development Applications Subject to the Urban Design Review Panel

The applicant’s contact is the File Lead, not the Panel Co-ordinator. The File Lead will provide you with information about meeting times, panel recommendations and all other information privy to your specific application.

Mandatory Pre-Application Consultation

Before a development application is made, the applicant’s role includes:

  • Preparing preliminary plans and drawings
  • Attending a pre-application consultation meeting with City staff
  • Using preliminary discussions to inform development of an urban design brief
  • For moderately complex proposals, City staff may suggest that the applicant meet with the Panel for an informal pre-consultation. In such cases, required submission materials will be at the File Lead's discretion.

28-day Circulation Period

After a development application is made, the applicant’s role includes:

  • Submitting formal plans and drawings, including a UDRP submission package with the development application (must be received at least two weeks in advance of the Panel meeting)
  • Attending the Panel meeting. (The project architect and landscape architect must be present):
    • Presenting the proposal at the Panel meeting
    • Answering questions from the Panel
  • Working with the File Lead and staff Urban Designer to achieve the final recommendations made by Panel

Meeting with the Panel

Applicants must show up for their meetings with the Panel at least 10 minutes in advance of their scheduled time. The Panel Co-ordinator will let the applicant know the exact date and time their proposal is being reviewed by the Panel. It is mandatory for the project architect and landscape architect to attend the Panel meeting.

Applicants may invite members of their consultant team or the owner of the site to attend. However, City staff recommends that only one person speak because the presentation should be about ten minutes in length.

Please note that the project information must be live on the City's Development Application Search site at least one week prior to the panel meeting. If it is not, the item will be withdrawn from the panel agenda.

Presentations to the Panel

The purpose of your presentation is to clearly explain the intent of your project as it relates to urban design and place making, and to show how it responds to City’s design policies and guidelines.

Submission requirements:
  • Your PowerPoint must be less than 20MB
  • Your PowerPoint is to be provided, with your submission package, two weeks in advance of the Panel meeting
The presentation should:
  • Introduce the context and discuss how it informed design.
  • Introduce and clearly identify the main design thrusts of project.
  • Explain your response to design opportunities and constraints of the area.
  • Explain your response to the direction set by design policies and guidelines.
  • Show how your proposal fits within/relates to the context and long term vision for the area.
  • Explain the sustainability initiatives used in your project.
  • Clearly show and explain your response to the directions/recommendations from City staff provided at the pre-consultation with staff. "Before-and-After" charts/diagrams/illustrations are a clear way to show changes that have been made.
The presentation should NOT:
  • Include drawings/renderings that were not included in the submission package

Panel meeting format

Presentation and Design Review Format

The review proceedings will be led by the Chair of the Design Review Panel and will follow the general sequence described below. Meetings last for approximately one hour and the recommended length of an applicant's presentation to the Panel is 10 minutes. If additional presentation time is required, please indicate the amount of time desired to the Panel Co-ordinator by the submission deadline.

Time allotted Course of action
5 minutes File lead presents an overview of the key design considerations for the project set out in city planning/design documents, an overview of the design directions provided to the applicant and the design matters that staff are seeking advice from the panel on.
10 minutes (recommended) Proponent(s) introduce themselves and present the project as concisely as possible. A PowerPoint or PDF presentation is required. No new material may be presented that was not included in the Submission Package.
10 minutes Panel questions and clarifications - Proponent(s) answer questions of clarification from the Panel.
20 minutes Presenter(s) are seated and Panel Chair opens the comment period by restating the critical issues and areas in which the advice of the Panel is being sought. The Panel will comment on the project in a manner intended to provide objective and constructive feedback to the proponent.
Proponents will be allowed to listen to the deliberations but may not address the Panel at this point. As a general rule, the Panel will not discuss projects without at least one representative of the proponent design team present. In cases where the Panel feels an in-camera session is necessary, the proponent will be asked to wait outside until those deliberations are completed.
5 minutes Chair summarizes the Panel recommendations for staff to work with the proponent to address in developing the final project design.
10 minutes Proponent(s) are given the opportunity to respond to the Panel’s comments.

Upcoming Agenda

Ottawa Urban Design Review Panel 

*The meeting will be held in Colonel By Boardroom, City Hall

Agenda for April 5, 2018
Time Site address Application Type File Lead Urban Designer Proponent
10 a.m. (50 mins)

1117 Longfields and 1034 McGarry Terrace

Formal Review 
Site Plan Control application to permit the constructions of two 16-storey towers on a shared podium. Tracey Scaramozzino Christopher Moise Open Plan Architects Inc.; 1897365 Ont. Inc. - MARKETPLACE
11 a.m. (50 minutes)

1946 Scott Street

Formal Review
Site Plan Control to permit a 9-storey residential building. Steve Gauthier Christopher Moise Surface Developments (2490939 Ontario Inc.); Project 1 Studio
12 p.m. (50 minutes)

929 Richmond Road

Formal Review 
Zoning Amendment and Site Plan Control to construct a 19 storey residential tower.  Laurel McCreight Mark Young Azure Urban Development Inc.; rla Architecture

Panel recommendations

The City’s Design Review Panel meets the first Thursday of every month (no August meeting between 2010-2012) at City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa. Recommendations from the Formal Design Review are provided here.

Learn More

Panel members

The Panel is comprised of seven expert design professionals. All members are senior professionals able to evaluate projects of varying complexities and contexts related to their profession.

Current Panel Members

Photo of Ronji Borooah

Ronji Borooah, M. Arch, MSc (PL), FRAIC, OAA, MCIP, RPP, APA

City Architect and Head of Urban Design, City of Markham

Ronji Borooah is a Registered Architect and Registered Professional Planner with expertise in Urban Design. Ronji is currently the City Architect and Head of Urban Design, City of Markham. Ronji is a member of the RAIC College of Fellows, and a former jury member of the Ottawa Urban Design Awards program, the Toronto Urban Design Awards program, the TTC York-Spadina Subway Extension Public Arts program, and professional advisor to the Markham Design Excellence Awards program. Ronji's previous career was in the private sector with Young + Wright Architects and Markson Borooah Architects, where his work has received several major awards, including the Governor General's Award for Architecture and awards from the OAA, CIP, OPPI, and CSLA. Ronji has taught Urban Design at the University of Toronto, and has been a speaker at several conferences of the RAIC, OAA, CIP, OPPI, APA, Construct Canada, Strategy Institute and other organizations.

Photo of David Leinster

David Leinster, OALA, CSLA

David Leinster is a landscape architect and partner at The Planning Partnership in Toronto. With expertise in public realm planning and design, and having extensive experience as a design critic and juror, David is a former member of the City of Ottawa’s Design Review Panel for the Downtown Design Review Pilot Project and a former juror for the Ottawa Urban Design Awards.

Photo of James Parakh

James Parakh, OAA

James Parakh is a Licensed Architect and the Manager of Urban Design for Toronto and East York District, City of Toronto Planning Division. During the last decade, James has led the urban design studio that has helped guide the review of all development in Downtown Toronto and surrounding urban areas. James also has experience working in the private sector as an urban designer, project designer and project architect for both national and international projects. He is the recipient of numerous awards and has received an Ontario Association of Architects Award in 2008 for introducing the 1:50 program and has recently led the initiative to launch Toronto's Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) branding. In 2014, James was appointed to the Advisory Group of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, an international body in the field of tall buildings and sustainable urban design. He holds graduate degrees in architecture and urban design from the University of Houston and Columbia University, respectively.

 Photo of John J.Stewart

John J. Stewart, BLA, OALA, CSLA, CAHP

John J. Stewart, a principal of Commonwealth, is a landscape architect and a heritage specialist. Over 40 years, he has focused on the planning and design of cultural resources, building and landscape conservation, and urban revitalization. A graduate of the University of Guelph, he received additional training at Cornell University (USA) and Oxford University (UK) and holds a diploma in the Conservation of Monuments from Parks Canada. Before Commonwealth's formation, Stewart was the first director of Heritage Canada's Main Street Program. The name Commonwealth derives from the Old English term 'commonweal' - a community or group working together for the common good. In this spirit, Stewart has advocated a collaborative approach in undertaking and participating in consulting and development projects. John is a founding member of the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals; he sits on the Algonquin College Heritage Carpentry Advisory Board, and is a past-chair of the Perth Heritage Advisory Committee. Stewart co-authored with Larry Turner Perth: Tradition and Style in Eastern Ontario.

Alex Taranu

Alex Taranu, FCIP, MCIP, RPP, OAA
Manager of Architectural Design, City of Brampton

Alex Taranu is a Licensed Architect in the Province of Ontario and Registered Professional Planner with over 30 years of professional experience in planning, urban design, and architecture. During the 1990s he was involved in a number of urban design and architectural projects in many Ontario cities, in particular in Toronto as a consultant on projects such as the “Railway Lands (City Place)”, and the “Waterfront Design Schemes and Charrettes”. Since 2001, he has been heavily involved in the re-urbanization of suburban areas through projects such as “Downtown Brampton Revitalization and Central Area Intensification”. He also has extensive professional work experience as an advocate for urban design in the planning process as the founder and past chair of the Ontario Professional Planner Institute Urban Design Working Group and other professional advocacy organizations.

Emmanuelle van Rutten

Emmanuelle van Rutten, B.Arch., OAA, OAQ, MRAIC, LEED AP BD+C

Emmanuelle is a Licensed Architect in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec and Director at the Moriyama & Teshima Architects' Ottawa office. Her professional focus has been on large-scale institutional buildings in Ottawa. These projects are exemplified by their exceptional designs and staunch project delivery.

Over the years, she has earned a reputation as a remarkable communicator (in both official languages), a meticulous project manager and an excellent designer. Her most notable projects include the Canadian War Museum and the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat on Sussex drive.

Emmanuelle is actively involved in Ottawa's design community. She maintains a close relationship with her alma mater - the Azrieli School of Architecture at Carleton University where she is frequently invited as a Guest Lecturer and Guest Critic.