An exhibition of alternative designs for an addition to the Château Laurier Hotel, created by students of Carleton University's Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism, has demonstrated that public concerns for the beloved heritage structure continue to run high.
OUTSIDE THE BOX, a two-day exhibition at the Hintonburg Community Centre hosted by Heritage Ottawa, attracted a steady stream of visitors interested in viewing the projects and engaging with the students who created them.
While modern additions to certain Ottawa heritage buildings have been praised and even embraced by locals for their sensitivity, the city has seen significant public outcry over a series of designs for a modern addition to the Château Laurier Hotel since presentation of the initial version by the hotel owners in September 2016.
The project poses challenging questions. How does one create a new addition to a century-old building of such distinctive architectural character? To what extent should the new resemble or echo the old — and to what extent should it depart? How do we honour the past while making a lasting contribution for the future?
Each of the eight designs on display offered a different answer to these questions.
Working under the supervision of Professor Mariana Esponda, each student design responded to the project's task of envisioning an addition that would be contemporary while still forming an "integrated composition" within the historic and iconic hotel. Peter Coffman, Associate Professor of the History and Theory of Architecture program at Carleton, describes Professor Esponda's project brief in his recent blog post. Although the student assignment is not constrained by the same parameters that guide the current addition to the Château Laurier, the same challenge lies at the heart of the project — addressing the question of what it means to live in a modern city that cares about its built heritage.
The exhibition was well covered by the media, including the recently launched local news platform Capital Current, staffed by fourth-year journalism students at Carleton University's School of Journalism and Communications, working under the supervision of instructors and master's students.
It is Heritage Ottawa's hope that exhibiting these designs will help reinvigorate the public conversation not only about the Château Laurier, but about the broader issue of keeping our significant heritage buildings vital and viable while ensuring appropriate change.
Related Press Coverage:
Thinking Outside the Box: Eight New Ideas for Château Laurier Expansion | Ottawa Citizen, Dec. 11, 2018
Architecture Students Hope to Bring a "Spark of Energy" to Château Laurier Addition | Capital Current, Dec. 7, 2018
Des étudiants de l'Université Carleton réinventente l'agrandissement du Château Laurier | Radio-Canada, le 9 décembre 2018
Réimaginer l’expansion du Château Laurier | Le Droit, le 9 décembre 2018
Peter Coffman speaks with Mark Sutcliffe | Ottawa Today | 1310 News | Dec. 11, 2018 | 10:00 – 11:00 | starts at 22:25
Julie Dompierre parle avec Phillippe Marcoux | Radio-Canada | Les matins d'ici | le 7 décembre 2018
On June 27, 2018 the Mayor and Ottawa City Council approved the hotel owner's application for the latest design of the addition, on condition that the design be made "more visually compatible with the existing Château Laurier". Determination of whether that condition is met was delegated to city staff, rather than following usual process under the Ontario Heritage Act.
A revised design for the hotel addition is expected in early 2019.
Heritage Ottawa has been actively involved in advocating for an appropriate addition to the Château Laurier Hotel, a National Historic Site of Canada and a building designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. Heritage Ottawa will continue to advocate for an appropriate addition to the Château Laurier.