Better, but still needs work.
That’s the conclusion of Ottawa’s urban design review panel on the new design for a controversial addition to the Fairmont Château Laurier.
Larco Investments wants to expand the historic hotel with more long-stay rooms and meeting spaces. But the process, which began in December 2016, has been dogged by critics who compared the original design to a bar code or a condo building.
The addition needs approval from the city because the property is protected by provincial heritage law. City council approved the demolition of a parking garage on the site in January 2018 and granted a conditional approval for a heritage permit last summer on the condition that Larco continues to refine the design.
A new design was filed last week. Tweaks for the seven-storey addition included increasing the use of stone, making architectural references to the original structure of the hotel and breaking up the massing of the addition to add visual interest.
But members of the panel expressed concerns about the glass connector and how it would look with curtains and furniture, and at night when people moving inside are more visible.
Heather Rolleston, an architectural designer and a design director at Quadrangle Architects Limited in Toronto, said the design could take more cues from the heritage building. The glass is too prominent and the contrast between the modern elements and the Château is “a bit too jarring,” she said.
Panel chair David Leinster, a landscape architect and partner at The Planning Partnership in Toronto, said there were a lot of good ideas in the new design. But the east pavilion needs some work and the base should have a more solid expression so it appears to be grounded, not floating, said Leinster.
David Flemming, the co-chair of the Heritage Ottawa advocacy committee, said the advocacy group had more concerns over the first three iterations of the design, but the addition is still too boxy. Members of Heritage Ottawa, a volunteer group, will go over the new design submission in detail over the weekend.
City staff are to prepare a site plan report to present to the city’s built heritage sub-committee for a decision by planning committee this spring.
If approved, Larco can then seek NCC approval. The city’s committee of adjustment must make a decision on the minor variance application before Larco can begin construction.
The previous is excerpted from an article in the Ottawa Citizen. CLICK HERE to read the article in its entirety on the Ottawa Citizen website.