City staff give thumbs up to Château Laurier addition designs

Chateau Laurier

The controversial proposed addition for the Château Laurier finally won city staff’s seal of approval, but not all are pleased with the architects’ latest designs.

In a report submitted this week, city staff gave the green light to the proposed addition to the rear of the iconic Ottawa hotel, which the latest designs show will now be seven storeys tall with glass and limestone accents throughout.

While staff say in the report that they couldn’t support hotel owner Larco Investments Ltd.’s previous three designs – “as they did not respect the cultural heritage value of the Château Laurier hotel” – the latest iteration is “contemporary in expression” and deemed worthy of staff’s approval.

The report suggests minor design variations be subject to the approval of the city’s general manager of planning, infrastructure and economic development, Steve Willis. If approved by next week’s built heritage sub-committee, the proposed development will move on to planning committee. City council will then have the final say.

Heritage Ottawa, however, remains against the controversial addition in its current form. In a separate letter, the local non-profit organization gave another scathing review of the architectural firm’s proposed design.

“The proposed addition is a relentlessly horizontal rectangular box consisting of flat surfaces and right angles. No amount of refinement of design details or material selection can overcome this fundamental incompatibility. There is an opportunity here to add to the experience of the Château, but this design simply gets in the way,” reads the letter signed by Heritage Ottawa president David Jeanes.

Previous designs also caused an uproar on social media, with many Ottawa residents expressing their distaste of the past iterations and current proposal.

Heritage Ottawa attempted to articulate common criticisms in its letter, suggesting that the addition’s blocky designs weren’t in keeping with the Château’s “picturesque, romantic sensibility.”

Staff’s report indicates that, while residents’ feedback has improved with each subsequent redesign, the proposed addition still doesn’t have the public’s support. To date, 2,370 residents have reached out to the city during public consultations.