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architectsAlliance present revised design for Château Laurier expansion

Refined for a third time, the contentious design for the expansion of Ottawa’s iconic Château Laurier will be presented to the city’s Built Heritage Sub-Committee on June 18th, with the scaled down project published on the city’s website last week. Designed by Toronto’s award-winning architectsAlliance, the addition has been revised to feature more limestone, breaking up the apparent bulk of the new building while creating an aesthetic dialogue with older hotel.Château Laurier, architectsAlliance

The newly released design follows three previous iterations, which were criticized strongly by some local voices for lacking a contextual relationship with the Châteauesque hotel, which dates to 1912. The development proposal retains the Château Laurier in its entirety, and replaces the remaining walls of the parking garage with an L-shaped addition, which will abut limited areas on the Château Laurier’s east and west wings.Château Laurier, architectsAlliance

This proposed addition will also be connected to the existing hotel via an enclosed glass link running along the western edge of the hotel’s east wing. The development proposal also includes a landscaped courtyard between the Château Laurier and the proposed addition, modifications to original ground floor window openings to provide access to the courtyard from the hotel ballroom and banquet room, and a new stairway that will provide access to the courtyard from the public terrace on the west side of the Rideau Canal.Château Laurier, architectsAlliance

The proposed addition will feature a contemporary design of Indiana limestone, transparent glazing and bronze accents. Irregularly-spaced stone and bronze fins will project from the addition, and the exterior will appear more solidly stone when viewed at an angle. The seven-storey height will enable views to the original hotel building, especially the iconic roofline, from Major’s Hill Park and other key vantage points.Château Laurier, architectsAlliance

Designed in collaboration with heritage experts ERA Architects, the Heritage Impact Statement submitted to the City of Ottawa outlines the scope of the architectural plans in greater detail:

The development proposal retains the Château Laurier in its entirety, and removes a 1960s above grade parking garage at the rear (north) of the hotel. This unoriginal garage will be replaced by a seven-storey L-shaped addition, which will abut limited areas on the Château Laurier’s east and west wings. This proposed addition will also be connected to the existing hotel via an enclosed glass link running along the western edge of the hotel’s east wing. The development proposal also includes a landscaped courtyard between the Château Laurier and the proposed addition, modifications to original ground floor window openings to provide access to the courtyard from the hotel ballroom and banquet room, and a new stairway that will provide access to the courtyard from the public terrace on the west side of the Rideau Canal. The proposed addition will revitalize the Development Site with new interior and exterior uses, and will feature a contemporary design and high-quality material palette of Indiana limestone, transparent glazing and bronze accents that reference and complement the heritage hotel and its surrounding landscape.

Offering a sense of context for the controversial reception of the previous design iterations, architectsAlliance Principal Peter Clewes spoke to Maclean’s magazine in 2016:

I think there’s a common thread amongst a lot of people that what came before was better, and we were more comfortable in our roots, looking back rather than looking forward. The nostalgia that comes from that—I think it’s a deep-seated human condition: yesterday is always better than today and the fear of tomorrow. I don’t think there’s anything absolutely wrong with that, it’s just the way we are. So when people are presented with something new, there is a very visceral reaction.

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