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City committee clears Château Laurier addition

Rendering of the latest design for the Château Laurier addition, which was approved at the city’s planning committee on Feb. 5, 2021.

Five years since “CHÂTEAU L’HORREUR”, the proposed modern addition to the classic hotel has finally gained approval at the City of Ottawa’s planning committee.

Here’s a news release from the city:

The City’s Planning Committee today approved a new heritage application and a revised Site Plan Control application needed for a proposed addition to the Château Laurier hotel.  

As the hotel is designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, the proposed addition cannot compromise its heritage value in terms of landmark character and architectural style.

Developed in consultation with Heritage Ottawa, the latest design proposes one 10-storey and one 11-storey tower, extending the wings of the existing hotel toward Major’s Hill Park. A two-storey base would join the two towers. This change from the seven-storey design that Council approved in 2019 opens up views into the centre of the historic building when seen from Major’s Hill Park.

The revised design also uses compatible materials to minimize the visual impact on the heritage value of the historic building and its surroundings. The two towers would be clad in Indiana limestone, and bronze panels and fins would be used to accent the roofline, reflecting the materials used on the historic building. 

The building design and landscaping also make a strong contribution to the public realm and connectivity with Major’s Hill Park by improving publicly accessible areas and making better pedestrian connections across the property between the ByWard Market and the Rideau Canal.

The day began with a joint meeting of the Planning Committee and the Built Heritage Sub-Committee to help streamline the process of hearing from the public. Both the committees then met separately to consider and approve the applications.

Recommendations from the meeting will rise to Council on Wednesday, February 24.

Heritage Ottawa, which had previously engaged in legal challenges to previous designs, is satisfied with this latest concept, after working with the hotel owner on addressing key concerns. The new design is still not exactly a crowdpleaser, however. Ottawa architect Barry Padolsky rated the new design a “C+”, according to CBC. Councillors Riley Brockington and Jeff Leiper voted against approval at planning committee.