New look for Chateau Laurier: Heritage Ottawa, owner agree on new design for expansion

Proposed new addition to the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. (Photo courtesy: Larco Investments)

Thursday, August 13, 2020

CTV OTTAWA, By Josh Pringle

After nearly four years of controversy, debate and several iterations, the expansion of the historic Chateau Laurier hotel has a new look.

Capital Hotel Limited Partnership and Heritage Ottawa announced an agreement for the new design of the proposed addition to the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in downtown Ottawa.

"The agreement is based on a dramatically altered design of the addition that will see an end to the widely vilified horizontal bar-shaped structure that blocked the rear view of the historic hotel," said Heritage Ottawa in a statement.

The new design was released nearly 11 months after the City of Ottawa's committee of adjustment rejected part of the controversial design for the addition. Capital Hotel Limited Partnership, an affiliate of Larco Investments, appealed the ruling to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.

Heritage Ottawa says the new two-pavilion design with low-rise connector is more compatible with the irregular silhouette of the original hotel and reopens iconic views to the rear courtyard.

The group says the new look will "reveal the U-shaped form and picturesque qualities of the Chateau Laurier from Major's Hill Park and re-establishes a more favourable relationship with the Rideau Canal."

Mayor Jim Watson announced on Twitter that he is "pleased to see that Larco and Heritage Ottawa have worked collaboratively and agreed on a new design for the Chateau Laurier that protects views from Major's Hill Park."

In a statement, Capital Hotel Limited Partnership, an affiliate of Larco Investments Ltd. and the owner of the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, said an agreement has been reached with respect to the proposed addition.  

"The revised scheme for the addition was designed by Larco's architect Peter Clewes. of architectsAlliance, after consultation with and input from experts in heritage architecture, including representatives from Heritage Ottawa," said the statement.

Capital Hotel Limited Partnership says the parties have also agreed to resolve their legal proceedings presently before the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal.

Larco Investments received heritage and site plan approvals from Council last July to build an addition to the Chateau Laurier hotel facing Major's Hill Park.  But the committee of adjustment rejected part of the addition's design last September, halting the project.

In a statement, Heritage Ottawa says it's pleased an agreement has been reached on the proposed addition to the historic hotel.

"This ground-breaking change of course was made possible by the citizens of Ottawa and by Canadians from across the country who, responding to the absence of government action, joined Heritage Ottawa in its fight to find a better outcome for this beloved National Historic Site."

In December 2016, the City of Ottawa received an application for an addition to the rear of the Chateau Laurier. The proposed design of the expansion to the Fairmont Chateau Laurier was criticized by politicians and the public.

Larco Investment proposed building a seven-storey, 147-room addition in a contemporary style at the rear of the existing Chateau Laurier. The addition will connect to limited areas on the Chateau Laurier east and west wings.

Now that the agreement on the design has been reached with Heritage Ottawa, Larco Investments says it will re-engage with both the City of Ottawa and the National Capital Commission wit respect to the revised design plans. 

Larco Investments says the parties have agreed to, "consensually resolve the legal proceedings presently before the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal."

Mayor Watson says Council will debate the proposed design.