The following letter was sent to the Committee of Adjustment on September 6, 2019, by Heritage Conservation specialist and Architectural Historian Harold Kalman. Dr. Kalman recently retired from his consulting practice after 35 years. He continues to teach graduate-level courses in Heritage Conservation at the University of Hong Kong and the University of Victoria, and remains a principal of Commonwealth Historic Ressources Management Ltd.
Re: Proposed Expansion of the Château Laurier Hotel
Dear Members of the COA,
I am writing to urge you to refuse the requested variances for the proposed addition to the Château Laurier Hotel. The applicant’s proposal does not comply with the City’s guidelines with respect to additions to historic buildings.
I refer to the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada (Parks Canada, 2010). This code of best conservation practices has been adopted by the City of Ottawa and the Province of Ontario. Standard 11 refers to proposed new additions to historic places and related new construction. It states that the new work should ‘conserve the heritage value and character defining elements’ by making ‘the new work physically and visually compatible with, subordinate to, and distinguishable from the historic place.’
The proposed addition to the Château Laurier may be distinguishable from the present landmark, but it is most certainly neither visually compatible with, nor subordinate to, the historic place. The proposal therefore fails to meet the City’s and the nation’s guidelines. It should not be permitted to be built as currently designed.
I am a heritage planner and an architectural historian. When I lived in Ottawa, I sat on the Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee and the Board of Directors of Heritage Ottawa. I am the author of The Railway Hotels and the Development of the Château Style in Canada, Heritage Planning: Principles and Process, and A History of Canadian Architecture, all of which address the kinds of issues created by the present proposal.
The proposed scheme is just wrong. Canada’s Capital deserves much better.
Harold Kalman, C.M., Ph.D., LL.D.