Ron Williams to Committee of Adjustment: Current Proposal is Entirely Inappropriate

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


The following letter was sent by Architect and Landscape Architect Ron Williams, O.C., to the Committee of Adjustment on September 17, 2019.


Dear colleagues,

I am writing to express my profound objection to the design and character of the addition to the Château Laurier Hotel that is currently proposed by the LARCO  development company. I strongly recommend that the Committee of Adjustment refuse to grant the minor variances to the Heritage Overlay policy that are being requested by this company.

I should mention that I was the Partner-in-Charge of the most recent general redesign of Major's Hill Park, which the proposed addition faces, during the period 1992-1995. My firm, WAA Inc. (Williams, Asselin, Ackaoui et associés), in collaboration with Torrance Thakkar of Ottawa, were engaged by the NCC to plan necessary revisions and long-term development of the park. The magnificent park that you see today is largely the result of this redesign, carried out in close collaboration with  NCC personnel. As you know, Major's Hill is the oldest park in Ottawa, it occupies a crucial central site within the overall Ottawa-Hull cityscape, and it serves as the venue for a remarkable number of important public activities including the Tulip Festival and Festival Franco-ontarien. It also provides one of the most outstanding views of the Parliament Buildings.

All of these roles of the Park would be called into question should the proposed addition to the Château Laurier be realized, and the contributions of generations of dedicated public servants, political figures, talented designers and highly-motivated citizens would be denigrated. The current proposal is, in my opinion, entirely inappropriate for this venerable site that expresses so well the heritage of Ottawa. There is no reason to create a vast and featureless wall at the southern extremity of the site; there are, I am sure, a myriad of more acceptable ways to design a thoughtful and elegant (and modern!) addition to the famous building that was originally built within the park, and should thus always be considered as an element of the park and not as an independent stand-alone structure.

I hope that your Committee will refuse the current zoning request and will insist that any addition to the Château Laurier be a positive contribution to the park.

With best regards,

Ron Williams

Architect and Landcape Architect
Fellow, CSLA and RAIC
Former member of the NCC Committee on the Arts
Member, Order of Canada


Photo Credits: Château Laurier: Julie Oliver, Ottawa Citizen. Proposed Addition: architectsAlliance (2019). Compositing Credit: Barry Padolsky Associates Inc Architects (2019)