President's Advisory Committee on Design

Terms of Reference

The University of Waterloo is committed to creating and maintaining high standards in its physical environment. Excellence in design reinforces excellence in teaching and research. Excellence in design enriches the quality of the educational experience for the entire university community. 

​​The campus grounds and buildings should be ecologically responsible, functional, efficient, inclusive, sustainable, and safe. Equally important, the physical environment should be visually and intellectually stimulating. Outstanding architecture and design, at every scale, are understood to be important components of university life. 

To ensure that decisions regarding campus planning, landscape design, architecture, signage, interior design, and other design matters are made in an informed and innovative manner, the President's Advisory Committee on Design makes recommendations to the president who, in turn, takes these recommendations to the Building & Properties Committee of the Board of Governors. 

The primary charge of the committee is to review proposed construction, renovation, landscape, interior design, and public art projects. In this role, the committee's responsibility lies in the consideration of a project's design merits and its effect on the existing campus environment. Committee members will also advise on campus master plans and have representation during the procurement phase when appointing architects, landscape architects, urban designers and the design review process.  

It is particularly important for the committee to make decisions that consider the mandate of the university; the Waterloo at 100 strategic vision, the evolution of campus planning, design, architecture, Indigenous design, equity, inclusion, transportation and sustainability goals and the long-range goals of any master plan which is operative at the time decisions are being made.   

The committee will meet nine times per year.

The committee's specific duties include those related to University of Waterloo property and those related to AFIW properties: 

University of Waterloo property: 

  • Review all new construction, renovation, landscape, interior design, and public art projects costing in excess of $5,000,000. 

  • Review construction, renovation, landscape, interior design, and public art projects costing less than $5,000,000, if, in the opinion of the committee chair or a majority of the committee members, the project warrants consideration. 

  • Monitor the physical ambiance of the campus and make appropriate recommendations thereto taking into consideration Indigeneity, sustainability, equity, diversity. 

  • Participate directly in the selection process for the appointment of external design professionals (planners, architects, landscape architects, signage designers, interior designers, etc.) for projects costing in excess of $5,000,000. There are three basic methods of selection: a) direct selection, b) comparative selection, and c) design competitions (limited or open). Individuals or firms with national recognition should normally be appointed and, in the case of a major/significant project, an internationally-recognized designer(s) should be engaged for the work.  Our values need to be taken into consideration including Indigeneity, sustainability, equity, diversity when decisions are being made 

  • Review and consider the placement of exterior public art, monuments, bridges, fountains, plaques, and the like. 

  • Invite other experts to consult with the committee as deemed necessary for specific projects. 

  • Present regular reports, summarizing the committee's activities, to the Building & Properties Committee. 

Affiliated and Federated Institutions of Waterloo properties: 

On 19 June 1961, the University of Waterloo and the four colleges of St. Jerome's, Renison, United College, and Conrad Grebel finalized an agreement outlining a program for the development of lands for the construction of teaching, administrative, and student residence buildings. Included in the agreement were covenants intended to create harmony and commonalty among the five campuses by requiring the University of Waterloo to approve changes to the colleges' external physical environments. 

A list of procedures for external AFIW projects (of any budget amount) should be obtained from University of Waterloo Plant Operations. 

Upon completion of conceptual design and design development stages, the institution shall submit appropriate drawings to the President’s Advisory Committee on Design for review and approval. 

Committee Membership (three-year term)

  • Vice-President, Administration and Finance (Chair) 
  • President and Vice-Chancellor (ex-officio) 
  • Sr. Director, Planning, Design & Construction (Vice-Chair) 
  • Executive Director, Facilities 
  • O’Donovan Director, School of Architecture 
  • Associate Vice-President, Academic Operations 
  • One member representing the Sustainability Office 
  • One member representing the Equity Office 
  • One member representing Indigenous Design 
  • One undergraduate student representative (one-year term) 
  • One graduate student representative (one-year term)
  • Up to two members from the university community having expertise in planning and/or design, appointed by the President 

Approved 12 April 1994.
Updated September 1997 (titles only).
Updated June 1999 (added president, Federation of Students, and reduced president's appointees to two).
Updated March 2014 (titles only).
Updated March 31, 2023 (terms of reference and membership)