Our heritage stands at a critical crossroads.
A controversial application for major alterations to Ottawa's Château Laurier Hotel, if allowed to proceed as proposed, stands to inappropriately alter this National Historic Site and forever compromise iconic views in the heart of our nation's capital.
Last week, at a public presentation hosted at Ottawa City Hall, architects for the hotel owners revealed their latest design for a proposed expansion. To say that Heritage Ottawa is dismayed is an understatement.
After reviewing the latest proposal, attending last week's public presentation and carefully considering the matter, our concerns have been anything but alleviated.
Heritage Ottawa does not consider the currently proposed design to be an improvement over previous versions for several reasons:
• Rather than being deferential and complimentary to the historic building—as recommended by the Standards and Guidelines for Historic Places in Canada—the proposed addition competes with the Château Laurier, scorning the historic building's picturesque character and romantic sensibilities.
• Exclusive use of glass and steel creates a jarring contrast between the proposed addition and the historic hotel. There is no attempt to use materials that harmonize with those of the historic Château.
• The proposed addition is a freestanding, rectangular building spanning the north façade of the hotel. Its horizontal form and materials are entirely incompatible with the vertical, picturesque qualities of the historic hotel and its Château-style architecture, which is characterized by its steep-pitched turreted roofs, turrets and fancifully-articulated façades.
• Iconic views of national significance—including those from Major’s Hill Park, the Rideau Canal locks, the Ottawa River, the Canadian Museum of History— and from Parliament Hill itself, will be forever marred by an intrusive, incongruous glass barrier resembling a condominium residence.
• When illuminated from within at night, a glass “lantern” effect will be created, overwhelming iconic views and and key panoramic vistas — including, most importantly, those of Parliament Hill.
An application for this proposed addition to the Château Laurier Hotel been filed with the City of Ottawa under the Ontario Heritage Act. This will be the most important heritage application to come before City Council in this generation.
Heritage Ottawa calls upon the Mayor and City Councillors to be leaders in defending our local and national heritage, by applying the Ontario Heritage Act to its fullest extent to protect the Château Laurier from this inappropriate change.
The Château Laurier is too important a building, at too important a location, to settle for anything less than architectural excellence that respects the historic building’s exceptional qualities and unique setting.
Your Voice Matters!
The City of Ottawa is seeking public reaction to the proposed Château Laurier addition.
Heritage Ottawa encourages all concerned citizens to review the proposal drawings and to
complete the city's Online Feedback Form before Friday, March 9
to make your views known.
Your actions can help to preserve the integrity of this important heritage building. Thank you.