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Château Laurier: Heritage group strikes compromise with owners on controversial addition

Chateau
This could be the final design plan for the proposed addition to the Château Laurier after a heritage group reached a compromise with the iconic hotel's owners. architectsAlliance

The owner of the Fairmont Château Laurier has come to a compromise with a heritage group that had been appealing against the controversial design of a proposed addition, suggesting an end to the saga of debate surrounding Ottawa’s historic hotel.

Heritage Ottawa announced Thursday it had struck an accord with Capital Hotel Limited Partnership, an affiliate of Larco Investments, which owns the hotel.

The agreement will see one more change made to the design plans.

The horizontal bar-shaped structure planned for the rear of the building will be removed in favour of a two-pavilion design with a low-rise connector.

Drone captures aerial perspectives of Ottawa’s iconic Château Laurier
Drone captures aerial perspectives of Ottawa’s iconic Château Laurier

Heritage Ottawa said in a statement the new design is “more compatible with the irregular silhouette of the original hotel and reopens iconic views to the rear courtyard” from the adjacent Major’s Hill Park.

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The addition, which will add 147 rooms to the hotel, will include Indiana limestone cladding with copper and bronze elements to reflect the Château Laurier’s heritage elements.

Ottawa city council had already approved a previous iteration of the addition, and left final design adjustments to the authority of city staff, a decision that ended up being controversial as councillors heard waves of criticisms from constituents on the final proposal.

Heritage Ottawa had put forward a legal challenge arguing the city didn’t have the authority to delegate the decision-making process to staff in a last-ditch effort to keep shovels out of the ground.

Read more: Château Laurier reopens on Canada Day

The local heritage protections group thanked residents of Ottawa and Canadians across the country for pushing for a new design.

It also thanked Larco for its “willingness to consider public concerns” and work with Heritage Ottawa and Canadian conservation experts to revise the design.

“We appreciate Larco’s openness to negotiation and the good will it showed in those discussions leading to a resolution of this dispute,” it said in a statement.

The design process for the controversial addition has dragged for nearly four years, with no shortage of public complaints. Even Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said of early designs that architects should go “back to the drawing board.”

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Watson tweeted Thursday that the new additions seem to satisfy council’s critiques.

The new designs will require approval by the City of Ottawa and Ontario’s Local Planning Appeals Tribunal, according to a release.

Château Laurier renovation plan causes a ruckus
Château Laurier renovation plan causes a ruckus