Château Laurier: Joint Meeting of Heritage and Planning Committees Vote on New Design

The new design goes to City Council for final approval on February 24, 2021. Rendering: architectsAlliance (2020)

Sunday, February 7, 2021


At a special joint meeting on February 5, 2021 the Built Heritage Sub-Committee (BHSC) and Planning Committee voted on the applications for a Heritage Permit and Site Plan Approval that could lead to the construction of a new design for the addition to the Château Laurier.

The new design presented by the owner, Larco Investments, is a radical departure from the widely vilified horizontal bar-shaped addition that blocked the rear view to the hotel, which Heritage Ottawa has been legally challenging for over a year.

In evaluating and contributing feedback on the proposed new alternative design, Heritage Ottawa consulted with internationally respected Canadian architectural and conservation experts Phyllis Lambert, Dr. Christina Cameron and Prof. Lyette Fortin, whose vast knowledge, understanding of materials, and wisdom with respect to melding modern and historic architecture proved invaluable. (See below).

The proposed new addition is not a replica, which Heritage Ottawa never advocated, but it is more compatible with the hotel’s composition and irregular silhouette, uses a preponderance of Indiana limestone cladding with copper and bronze elements in keeping with the historic hotel, and opens up iconic views to the rear of the hotel from the north. These changes form a contemporary design that meets the requirements set out in the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada.  

At the joint committee meeting, the BHSC’s vote on the issuance of a Heritage Permit for the new design was tied, leaving it up to Planning Committee which voted in support of issuing a Heritage Permit and the required Site Plan Approval. City Council will make the final decision at its meeting on February 24.

Options for City Council and Outcomes for the Château Laurier

City Council has 90 days from the date Larco submitted the applications to make its decision. The 90-day period expires on March 7. Should Council not meet that deadline, both applications will be automatically permitted under law. Larco must agree to extend the time limit should Council opt to delay making a final decision until after the 90-day period.

Should City Council vote against the applications to allow construction of the new design, the owner will have the right to return to the horizontal bar-shaped addition design, which Larco has the required Heritage Permit to build, and which Heritage Ottawa took legal action to prevent.

Heritage Ottawa and Larco appealed the Committee of Adjustment ruling last fall on two minor variances requested by the owner, which will be heard by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT). 

Update: City Council Vote

On February 24, City Council voted 14 to 10 in support of the staff recommendation that the Heritage Permit and Site Plan be approved.

Letters to the Joint Committee meeting in support of the design:

Christina Cameron, PhD (Architecture History), CM, FRSC
Professor Emeritus, Canada Research Chair on Built Heritage

Lyette Fortin, B.Arch, D.ICCROM, Hon.OAA
Adjunct Professor, Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism, Carleton University
Instructor of Architectural Conservation: Philosophy, Ethics and Practice

Phyllis Lambert, CC, GOQ, CAL, FRAIC
Founding Director Emeritus, Canadian Centre for Architecture