Heritage Ottawa slams latest design for landmark hotel

The latest design for the proposed addition to the Château Laurier hotel in downtown Ottawa. Photo courtesy City of Ottawa
The latest design for the proposed addition to the Château Laurier hotel in downtown Ottawa.
Photo courtesy City of Ottawa

Heritage Ottawa has slammed the latest designs for a new seven-storey addition at the rear of the Château Laurier hotel in downtown Ottawa. The preservation group is “gravely concerned the City of Ottawa may be on track to approve what would be the most disgraceful act of heritage vandalism of our generation.”

According to a statement released by Heritage Ottawa, “The revised design fails to resolve—or even address—the underlying flaw that impaired all of the previous attempts. The angular, blocky massing and style of the proposed addition remains intrinsically incompatible with the romantic sensibility of the historic Château.”

In preparing this latest design—the fourth to be submitted—the applicant had considered public feedback along with input from City planning and heritage staff. The new design has reduced the proposed height by one storey; it also makes greater use of stone and bronze to better reflect the materials used on the historic hotel.

The Ontario Heritage Act does not prescribe design, and additions to the hotel are not required to replicate the style of the historic building.

However, Heritage Ottawa feels, “the proposed addition is neither physically nor visually compatible with, nor subordinate to, the historic place on which it seeks to impose itself.”

“By failing to address the Château’s picturesque character in any way, shape or form, all of the design options presented to date detract from the Château and its historic setting—and in doing so, undermine the integrity and value of the cultural landscapes that surround it,” added the statement.

The applicant still needs several planning approvals before the project can proceed. The public can provide feedback on the revised design by writing to chateaulaurier@ottawa.ca.

The Château Laurier is protected under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, and all additions must be approved by city council.

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  1. Please remind everyone about the architectural additions to Paris, first the Eifel Tower, Pompidou and the addition to the Louvre.
    “Constructed from 1887–89 as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair, it was initially criticized by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but it has become a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world.[3] The Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world; 6.91 million people ascended it in 2015.”
    “Pompidou Museum in Paris – It was designed in the style of high-tech architecture by the architectural team of Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano, along with Gianfranco Franchini.” A piece of work not even close to any “picturesque character”.
    The Louvre – “is the world’s largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, France”. It’s front and centre pyramid ….is this complementary to the original Louvre architecture?

    Thus, SUBJECTIVE critics should be careful on what they, as a collective group, “MOB”, may destroy.

    I am not either for it nor against the new design but there are reasons for it and those reasons should be first understood before the arm chair critics speak.

    Good on Château Laurier for doing this – they have gotten all this international free press and that is their real market not the local Ottawa fabric. Like in Paris, Everyone will want to come and see it and to either stay or visit but in any event it will bring tourist dollars to Ottawa.

    1. For every Eifel tower that survives for its design mastery there are thousands of ignominious failures that recede into the mists of history. Its a fallacious argument to suggest that we should not be rigorous in the present because only the future can judge us. No judgement of design is ever wholly objective but by your logic should we require nominations for the Pritzker Prize to stand for a genteration before being judged?

  2. I’d be with the Prince of Wales, if had commented on this the same way as he did for the building in Trafalgar square……’monstrous carbuncle’. The ugliness of modern architecture is how I see it; adds no visual improvement to the built environment. If it needs to be ugly stick it underground so no one has to look at it. :(

  3. I’d have to agree, even as a architect keen on Modernism, this proposed addition is just plain wrong in so many ways. We can only see that one elevation, so it may possibly be better looking from elsewhere, but as it stands from that one photo, it should be widely condemned and dismissed. Hopelessly, hopelessly wrong.

  4. Has anyone noticed the scaffolding built over the Daniel Libeskind excrescence on the ROM lately? That’s the worst example of you get when you permit architects and managers who only see their own puffed-up selves and can’t see the heritage building and the future legacy. Build something compatible, intelligent, and durable. That doesn’t mean it has to look like the old building, but it has to be well-designed.

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