The conglomerates, or proponents, have high expectations to meet in their proposal submissions, particularly with a requirement that the new facility form the entry to the downtown core and begin an important process of renewal for the area.

The Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued last week to proponent team leads EllisDon Corporation and PCL Constructors Canada Inc. They have been asked to submit proposals that include detailed features on design, architecture, construction methodology, schedule, environmental sustainability, budget and timelines. The proposals must meet every specification laid out in the RFP, and be built on time and within budget. It must also meet high standards in environmental sustainability in every aspect of construction and operation.

“The proposed designs have to capitalize on the spectacular views of the Rideau Canal, Parliament Hill, and as well create a spectacular new facility that will add to the significance of this historic area,” said Jim Durrell, Chair of the Board of the OCC. “The new facility must be an architectural gem and provide for a safe, pedestrian friendly environment.”

There are a number of key features that must be built into the design of the meeting place. There must be provision for concurrent conventions and therefore functional flexibility of the meeting rooms. All design features must be easy to maintain and replace in order to allow for thirty years of keeping the facility in a “like new” condition.

Noise transfer throughout the new facility must be at an unprecedented minimal level, including noise pollution in meeting spaces from elevators, escalators, employee work areas, the loading dock and mechanical equipment. Walls are to be highly impact resistant, and floors are to be free of grouting and joints that cause disruptive noise when carts are rolled across them.

“We are very excited about the large multi-purpose and the specifications set out in the RFP,” said Patrick Kelly, President of the OCC. “The multi-purpose ballroom must be connected and freely accessible to an outdoor green space with grass and trees at the same level as the top of the Rideau Centre. The multi-purpose room and pre-function space will have approximately 90,000 square feet that can be sub-divided into a number of configurations or left open for large events. The view is spectacular from this vantage point looking out on Parliament Hill, the Chateau Laurier and the Rideau Canal – no matter what time of year.”

The RFP is explicit about recreating a new entry way into the downtown core. Streetscape improvement will enhance the beauty and usage of the Rideau Canal across the street from the site. A sidewalk graced with trees is required along the section of Colonel By Drive in front of the OCC. The speed limit will be reduced from 60 kilometers an hour to 40, and the number of lanes will revert to two instead of its current four-lane expansion in front of the OCC.

“The site needs to be safe for pedestrians and visitors not familiar with the area in front of the OCC,” Mr. Durrell added. “At the moment, traffic races along Colonel By. We are grateful to the City of Ottawa and the National Capital Commission who agree with these important changes and approved them.”

A grand marquee entrance, inviting and well lit in the evenings, will lead into a facility with a high level of design detail, sophistication and durability. The interior and exterior finishes must be neutral, warm and contemporary, suitable for VIP galas, trade shows, conventions and meetings.

“We took considerable time deciding on a state-of-the-art kitchen system that will accommodate over 4000 meals at a sitting, but also allow for seated meals, buffets, concessions and banquets,” said Mr. Kelly. “We require the best technology in food production systems that include a process of cooking, chilling, and re-warming of meals that need to be prepared in advance. The quality of the food experience, given the state-of-the-art technology, is incomparable.”

The 200,000 square foot, $159 million project is in the final stages of the procurement process with proposals due back by early July. The procurement process began on February 19, 2008 with the issuing of a Request for Qualifications, which was followed by the RFP on May 8. The final selection of the consortium will take place in late July. Demolition of the existing OCC site is expected to begin in September 2008.

The Ottawa Convention Centre is an agency of the Government of Ontario.