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ORF Home > Technical Resources > Design Requirements Manual (DRM)

Design Requirements Manual (DRM)


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Design Requirements Manual (DRM) establishes policy, design requirements, standards, and technical criteria for use in planning, programming, and designing NIH owned, leased, operated, and funded buildings and facilities. The DRM is the only detailed design requirements and guidance manual of its kind. It is the result of technical studies that have set numerous national and international standards, lessons learned and ever-advancing architectural and engineering technologies used in the design and construction of NIH facilities. The Division of Technical Resources (DTR) is responsible for maintaining and updating the DRM.

The DRM aligns the NIH facilities program with the Office of Research Facilities’ (ORF) mission of “Supporting NIH priorities by providing safe, secure, sound, healthy, and attractive facilities.” Additionally, the DRM aligns ​the ORF with a national imperative to be good stewards of America’s real property assets. We extend our sincerest thanks to all the dedicated individuals who helped to make the DRM a reality.​ 

Under Construction: DRM update in progress

The last major DRM update was issued in 2016, and subsequent focused revisions have kept it current.  DTR is now undertaking a comprehensive update of the DRM to reflect industry developments, best practices, and lessons learned.  The update will be published chapter-by-chapter throughout 2024 as chapters are completed to release the information as quickly as possible.  Updated chapters will replace the current DRM chapters as they are published.

As of 3/12/2024, the latest edition of the DRM is Revision 2.0. Chapters 3, 5, and 9 have updated. If you require access to an old edition of the DRM, please email a request to us at

We look forward to supporting NIH and the international community as a reliable resource for best practices in biomedical facility design. If you have any questions about the process or the timeline, please contact the Standards and Policies Branch by emailing ​​.

To automatically receive the latest DRM Revisions, email: ​​​and put Revisions in the subject line. 

For all technical inquiries, comments and suggestions, please email the Office of Research Facilities, Division of Technical Resources at


Cover of the 2024 Design Requirements Manual

Adobe IconPDF (19MB) 508​​ ​ ​

Revision 2.0: 03.8.2024

Front Cover of the NIH Design Requirements Desk Guide
Desk GuideAdobe IconPDF (5.21MB) 508​
The Desk Guide is available to make the DRM more accessible and easier to use.

Note on the use of the Desk Guide:
The full, unabridged DRM remains the guiding document and primary source for policies, requirements, and guidance for all stakeholders and decision makers involved in the planning, construction and operation of NIH facilities.  The Desk Guide is intended to be ancillary to the DRM, serving as a navigation aide and providing an overview of DRM contents.  The Desk Guide must be used in conjunction with the DRM, and not as a standalone document.
Adobe Icon PDF (44KB) 508

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information available on our website is accessible to all. If you use special adaptive equipment to access the Web and encounter problems when using our site, please let us know. Email:​ and we will provide the information to you in an alternate format. It would be helpful if you can be as specific as possible when describing the information you seek. 


This page was last updated on Mar 26, 2024