Château Laurier Addition

Night view of from Majors Hill Park. Rendering by architectsAlliance


June 28, 2018

Forfeiting its Right of Final Approval, City Council Votes to "Return to the Drawing Board" on Château Laurier Addition

Final Approval for Design Changes to be Delegated to City Staff

City Council voted unanimously on June 27, 2018 to approve the Built Heritage Sub Committee’s (BHSC) amendment to the City Staff Report recommendation that the design of the addition to the Château Laurier hotel be approved in its proposed form. The amendment calls for staff to work with the applicants, Larco Investments and its architect Peter Clewes of architectsAlliance, and return an improved design that is more “visually compatible with the existing Château Laurier.”

Heritage Ottawa supported the intention of the BHSC initiative, but retains strong concerns that the BHSC recommendation did not go far enough to ensure that subsequent design changes will achieve design excellence while meeting the Standards and Guidelines’ test of compatibility. 

Heritage Ottawa recommended the following more robust review process be established:

  • Reconstitute the 2017 Heritage Working Group (as suggested by BHSC) to guide the proponent on subsequent design changes;
  • Re-engage the Urban Design Review Panel in a formal review of the resulting design;
  • Invite the public to an Open House before submitting the resulting design for approval, and
  • Amend Recommendation 1(e) of the BHSC Motion, and make any other necessary amendments in order that the resulting design be referred back to BHSC, Planning Committee and Ottawa City Council for final approval under auspices of the Ontario Heritage Act.

The final bullet expresses Heritage Ottawa’s firm belief that final design approval should not be delegated to city staff, as the motion recommended, but rather that Ottawa City Council should exercise its full authority and responsibility under the Ontario Heritage Act by fully considering all stages of this significant and historic application to alter the Château Laurier hotel.

Planning Committee chose to support the BHSC amendment, without additional changes, at its meeting of June 26.  At the meeting, Councillor Tobi Nussbaum (chair of BHSC) confirmed for the public record that City staff had committed to consult with the city’s Urban Design Review Panel on the resulting design changes.

Council's decision means that the approval of the final design for the Château Laurier addition ultimately rests with City staff.  With this vote, Ottawa’s elected officials have given up their right under the Ontario Heritage Act to determine whether or not the applicant has met the criteria established in the BHSC amendment. Council will not vote on the final design.

Members of BHSC and councillors will only be able to comment on the Site Plan, which will address such issues as the building’s location, landscaping and traffic and pedestrian access—not the final design of the addition.

City staff anticipate that the Site Plan will not be ready until early winter.


As a building designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, any addition to the Château Laurier required the approval of Ottawa City Council before construction can proceed. The owners submitted a heritage application to the City of Ottawa, as required by the Act.  Steps in the process were as follows:

  • City heritage staff issued a Report on June 11, 2018 recommending approval of the application.
  • Ottawa's Built Heritage Subcommittee (BHSC) met on June 18 to to consider the application and make recommendations to Planning Committee (PC). BHSC unanimously supported a proposed amendment to make the addition “more visually compatible with the existing Château Laurier” (see Motion above).
  • Planning Committee (PC) met on June 26, and recommended adoption of BHSC's proposed amendment to the Mayor and Ottawa City Council.
  • The Mayor and Ottawa City Council met on June 27 and voted to approve the application as amended, delegating approval for any design changes to city staff.


  • STUDENT EXHIBITION continues the discussion of forthcoming Château Laurier addition


    An exhibition of alternative designs for an addition to the Château Laurier Hotel, created by students of Carleton University's Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism,...

  • OUTSIDE THE BOX: An Exhibition of Alternative Designs for an Addition to the Château Laurier


    Heritage Ottawa is pleased to be hosting an exhibit of designs for an addition to the Château Laurier created by students at Carleton University’s Azrieli School of Architecture and...

  • Time to End "Capital Punishment"

    The following article appeared in the "Athena Cultural Crusader" section of the August 8 issue of COUNTRY LIFE, a weekly U.K. magazine with a focus on arts, travel and architecture.


  • Council approves Addition to Château Laurier with plan to Tweak Modernist Design

    GLOBAL NEWS, By Beatrice Britneff

    Council agreed today that planners have more work to do on the design of the Château Laurier expansion, a controversial process that has dragged on for...

  • Council votes to keep working on design for Château Laurier expansion

    OTTAWA CITIZEN, By Jon Willing

    The drama at city hall over the Château Laurier’s proposed addition should go silent until the next term of council.

    Council on Wednesday voted to have...

  • Councillors risk ceding influence over Château addition, heritage group warns

    CBC NEWS, By Laura Osman

    The president of Heritage Ottawa is warning city councillors they may be about to lose their last chance to veto the design for a modernist addition to the Château...

  • More design work on Château Laurier expansion endorsed by planning committee

    OTTAWA CITIZEN, By Jon Willing

    There wasn’t much fuss over the proposed Château Laurier expansion during Tuesday’s planning committee meeting.

    Councillors simply approved a...

  • Back to the drawing board for round five of Château Laurier expansion

    EDMONTON SUN, By Jon Willing

    City council could neuter itself on Wednesday as Ottawa’s watchdog for heritage properties when it considers kicking the final design responsibility for the...

  • Heritage Ottawa: Response to Latest Design for Proposed Addition to Château Laurier | June 3, 2018

    Owners of the Château Laurier have unveiled their latest design for a proposed addition to the venerable historic hotel, a National Historic Site of...

  • Heritage Ottawa to Built Heritage Sub-committee re: Chateau Laurier Addition | JUNE 18, 2018


    The following text was formally submitted by Heritage Ottawa to the Built Heritage Sub-committee for consideration at its meeting of June 18, 2018. President David Jeanes...