Ottawa committee OKs latest design of embattled Château Laurier addition

A rendering of the final design of the proposed addition to the Château Laurier, presented to Ottawa city council in February 2021. architectsAlliance

The long saga surrounding a proposed addition to Ottawa’s Château Laurier could soon be coming to an end as the city’s planning committee on Friday rubber stamped the latest designs for the extension, the results of a compromise between the hotel owners and a local heritage group.

The latest decision on the controversial file required meetings from multiple committees on Friday.

While the built-heritage subcommittee, which includes some members of the public, tied 3-3 in its vote to approve the heritage permit for the addition, Ottawa’s planning committee ultimately approved the permit with a 7-2 vote and later approved the project’s site plan with a 9-1 vote.

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Ottawa’s full city council will consider the recommendations at its meeting on Feb. 24. The National Capital Commission will also meet later this month to discuss granting federal land-use approval to the project.

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The latest designs will see two towers with heights of 10 and 11 storeys, connected by a two-storey podium, added to the rear of the Château Laurier, backing onto Major’s Hill Park. The proposed addition would add 159 units to the hotel.

A view of the proposed Château Laurier addition from the East Block of Parliament. architectsAlliance
A view of the proposed Château Laurier addition from Major’s Hill Park. architectsAlliance

The current iteration of the proposed addition will include more elements of Indiana limestone already prevalent in the original structure and is structured to better preserve views from and integration with Major’s Hill Park.

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The design of the extension has been the source of great public scrutiny since 2016, with many members of the public, heritage experts and elected officials decrying the proposed addition as an eyesore that could compromise views of the Château.

After a series of revisions and debates at city council, a version of owner Larco Investments’ proposal nearly received its building permit in 2019, but a last-second refusal to grant the development a minor variance approval sent the project to Ontario’s Local Planning and Appeals Tribunal.

Larco and Heritage Ottawa, one of the project’s most vocal critics, announced last summer, however, that the parties had come to a compromise. The new designs just needed another round of signoffs before construction could begin.

LPAT will also need to rule on the original minor variance appeals before Larco can receive a building permit.

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