Château Laurier owners add limestone details in latest attempt to win support for expansion

Laurier May

Château Laurier owner Larco Investments Ltd. has gone back to the drawing board one more time in an attempt to find a design for its proposed addition to the iconic hotel that will appeal to the public and city officials.

The latest designs, included in a memo submitted to Ottawa Heritage Services from ERA Architects, feature limestone frames around the diagonal glass panes on the building’s east and west facades. Limestone “fins” along the northern facade, which faces Major’s Hill Park, are designed to “break up and add visual interest” to the addition’s exterior.

The latest designs’ inclusion of limestone – a primary material in the original Château structure – is aimed at appeasing critics who claimed previous versions of the addition were not in keeping with the building’s distinct heritage appearance.

In response to public backlash, lead architect Peter Clewes told OBJ in 2016 that designing the addition to closely resemble the original building would “confuse history,” suggesting that any new design would have to advance history, not recreate it.

View from Major's Hill Park. AllianceArchitects.
A night-time view. AllianceArchitects.
The view from Rideau Street. AllianceArchitects.

According to the city, the planned addition is slightly shorter than earlier iterations and would contain 164 long-stay hotel units. That's down from 171 in previous versions of the plan.

In the memo, ERA Architects says it believes its new proposal “conserves the cultural heritage values” of the Château Laurier, and that the exterior refinements represent “a positive and context-sensitive design.”

The proposal will have to clear the built heritage sub-committee, planning committee and city council before construction on the new addition, which includes a new underground parking garage, can begin.

Here's a comparison of how the designs have changed since the previous submissions in February:

Parliament Hill view:

February 2018
May 2018

Major's Hill Park view:

February 2018
May 2018

Rideau Street view: 

February 2018
May 2018