12-storey tower part of Château Laurier expansion plans filed with city

The owners of Ottawa’s iconic Château Laurier are pushing ahead with their controversial expansion plans and recently filed a site plan application with the city that contains new details about the proposal.


That includes the height of the two towers planned for the rear of the property, which was not disclosed when property owner Larco Investments released its plans last year.


City documents state Larco wants to build an 11-storey (33.25 metres) tower on the east side and 12-storey (36.2 metres) structure on the west side. Both would be on a podium.

Real estate data firm Emporis pegs the height of the existing structure at 37.4 metres, or 11 storeys.

The number of rooms has been increased from 200 to 218.

The site plan application raises questions about the extent to which Larco Investments modified its plans following the criticism in September over its initial proposal, which included Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson tweeting that the developers should go “back to the drawing board.”

Larco development director Art Phillips later told OBJ that the plans would be “refined” and, in November, representatives of the hospitality company told a public meeting that it had scaled down the proposal by eight by percent but maintained the core cubic design.

A Larco spokesperson told OBJ Friday that the plans submitted to the city are largely the same as those presented in November.

Lead architect Peter Clewes said in November that he recognizes that some members of the public would prefer a design that more closely resembles the original building. But under planning rules, additions to heritage buildings are not supposed to mimic or duplicate the original structure. Instead, the new components should be “subordinate” to the historic building and have a modern appearance, Mr. Phillips said in September.

He explained that, when viewed from the outside, the Chateau Laurier has three principal elements: the building base, a midsection containing the rooms and the top roofline. The expansion proposes continuing all three of these elements, utilizing similar materials such as limestone and copper.

Other parts of the expansion include demolishing the existing five-storey parking garage as well as constructing a new underground car park and courtyard. 

Mr. Phillips previously said that the company is eager to introduce greenspace to the property’s rear and restore sightlines that are currently blocked by the parkade – a structure he said he’s surprised was ever approved in the first place.

The developers will need a heritage permit to go ahead with the addition, one condition of which is a maintaining of the silhouette of the hotel’s iconic roof. In some of the publicly released renderings in September, the towers appeared to stretch above the existing structure and cut off views of the Château Laurier’s roof from Major's Hill Park.

According to Larco’s project website, the next steps will see the city arrange a community meeting before the proposal heads to the built heritage subcommittee and planning committee, before ending up at city council for final approval. The National Capital Commission will also weigh in before plans are settled.

If all goes according to plan, Larco anticipates construction beginning in fall 2017.