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architectsAlliance present revised design for Château Laurier expansion


June 4, 2018
by Canadian Architect

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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6 Comments » for architectsAlliance present revised design for Château Laurier expansion
  1. Carole says:

    This is horrible, we can’t see the beautiful Laurier Castle!

  2. Who decides on who are the chosen Architects and how are they chosen?
    Mabe the hotel is a symbol and should be non-expandable? Just left alone! It is like asking someone to add to piece of Rodan Sculpture. Bigger is not always better! The Castle Laurieris a part of the Canadian expeience. It along with the other railway hotels of note and fame should be left alone and seen as part of our history-place.

  3. I am glad that this project is being “reviewed” professionally.
    I ask the RAIC to get involved with the foot bridge under construction across the Rideau Canal.
    I will send you my correspondence with the Mayor of Ottawa Jim Watson

  4. Daniel Brazeau says:

    I live in Gatineau, North shore of the Ottawa River with a wonderfull view of the Château Laurier. It is a great architectural accomplishment that dates back to 1909.

    The 3rd iteration of the extension is of no appeal to me.
    This is a Chateau with Tiffany stained-glass windows and many other features that makes it unique and spectacular.

    The proposed extension looks more like a modern library than a castle extension. Too late now I guess, these yahoo architecs from TO made up their minds after 2 strikes. The last iteration is what you get, like it or not… These guys are architectural bullies.

    They don’t care and maybe they have no clue as to what they are doing. All they want is the contract…They are hungry for the money. Not for architectural pride.

    This last proposal will disfigure the north face of the Château Laurier building.

    Who commissioned this work and for what purpose. Give the people the objectives, maybe they will be able to provide socialy acceptable solution.

    Otherwise architects Alliance
    may be remembered in architectural history as the company that disfigured the Château Laurier…in 2018 !!!
    What a legacy….

  5. Ramesh Gulatee says:

    Where did “The Chateau Laurier” go?

    One of the hallmarks of great design is recognize living with and enhancing a thing of beauty.
    Contextual architecture!!!

    Here is an example…
    PeiCobb no slouch architects….
    When faced with designing the Christian Science Complex, Boston and integrating existing buildings, they did just that.
    One of the tasks involved addition of a portico to an existing Month Church building.
    Knowing that any addition would be… just an addition, they set upon borrowing the vernacular from the existing Church and added a glassed portico with classical columns replete with base and decorative capital to blend with existing.

    While standing at the transition of the new addition and existing, a fellow architect inquired of me if I observed something different.
    I replied that I did not other than a full height glazed enclosure.
    My friend pointed to the portico addition.

    Pei Cobb could easily have designed and persuaded the client and other stakeholders to another design, but they did not.

    They instead chose to design the addition as if it was always there.

  6. R.I.Macdonald says:

    The Laurier has a distinctive architectural vocabulary which an architect with even the most basic level of architectural skills should be able to interpret and apply to the new addition. This is where the source of dissatisfaction lies. The addition looks like a separate building with no sense of fit to either the Laurier itself or the surrounding cultural landscape of this important part of Ottawa. The NCC should exercise much stricter control over these kinds of projects.

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  1. […] Designed in collaboration with heritage consultants ERA Architects for developers Larco Investments‚ the proposal envisions a modern addition to the 1912 building, with the latest iteration introducing limestone cladding to reference the materiality and texture of the Châ…. […]





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