After years of controversy and several proposed designs, a city of Ottawa committee has given the green light to a new expansion at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier.
The planning committee voted 7-2 to recommend council approve the design changes to the expansion at the back of the iconic hotel and issue a heritage permit. Councillors Riley Brockington and Jeff Leiper voted against the plan. The committee also voted 9-1 in support of the site plan for the hotel addition.
Larco Investments, the hotel’s owner, filed a new application with the city in November for a 159-room, two-pavilion addition at the back of the hotel on Rideau Street.
According to the application, the 11,846-square-metre addition includes two pavilions - one a 10-storey tower, the other 11 storeys tall, extending from the east and west arms of the original hotel and connected by a transparent two-storey connector. There would be 159 long-term suites, 301 parking spaces in a five level underground garage, space for meetings and special events and a landscaped courtyard.
Architect Barry Padolsky, a member of the city's built-heritage subcommittee, told a special meeting of the subcommittee Friday morning that he gives the proposed design a C-grade.
"In my view, the proposed design that is in front of the built heritage sub-committee today is not a great piece of architecture, and it is not one that will be a destination for tourists when they decide to travel again," said Padolsky, who voted in favour of the proposed design during the built-heritage subcommittee meeting. "It's not going to be an internationally acclaimed destination, a must-see."
Coun. Brockington said he could not vote in favour of the design.
"My frustration living in our great city is that we accept a C grade – that's okay. A C-grade, it’s a pass – we're okay with that. Outside the parliamentary precinct in this city, having worked at Tunney's Pasture which is an architectural abyss – ugly," he said.
"Why do we accept this? Having sat on planning for six years and looking at the designs of the various developments that have come to us, never been impressed. I can probably count on one finger, or one hand, when the architectural quality of what we were looking at was impressive.
“People have the right not to be happy with what is being proposed for the Chateau Laurier expansion, I'm not."
Larco Investments unveiled new designs for the hotel expansion in August, 11 months after the city's committee of adjustment rejected part of the design of the new addition.
The proposed addition replaces the parking garage of the Chateau Laurier, bordering Major's Hill Park.
Heritage Ottawa, which has been opposed to the expansion, has said the proposed new addition is "more compatible with the hotel's composition and irregular silhouette."
Council will now vote on the design changes to the expansion plan, and whether to issue a heritage permit for the project [when it meets on February 24]. The National Capital Commission will also review the application.