Chateau Laurier expansion plan draws anger online
After the Parliament buildings, the Chateau Laurier hotel may be one of those most iconic and beloved buildings in Ottawa -- which may be why so many are reacting with anger at a proposed extension to the hotel.
The planned extension, to be placed at the back of the hotel, would consist of a modern glass building that would add 200 long-term stay suites and a new ballroom. The renovation would also create a new courtyard and replace the aging five-storey parking lot with new underground parking.
But not everyone is thrilled with the blueprints. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said residents have told him they aren’t impressed with the modern, blocky design.
“We want something that's not going to stick out like a sore thumb but that's going to blend in and respect the iconic nature of the Chateau Laurier,” Watson told CTV News.
Plenty of Ottawa residents shot down the project on social media.
TY for your feedback. Owners are reviewing each comment as they prepare final submissions. Appreciate the passion about @fairmontlaurier.— Fairmont Laurier (@fairmontlaurier) September 15, 2016
Architects Alliance, the Toronto-based architects behind the plan, said the expansion will provide a modern look while also paying homage to the 1912-built hotel. It would use similar limestone and incorporate copper at the roofline similar to the original hotel’s copper turrets.
Principal architect Peter Clewes said the idea behind the expansion wasn’t to simply blend in to the hotel’s original French Renaissance design.
“Really the challenge for us is how do we do buildings of our time that are complimentary to the buildings that came before us, rather than recreate what came before us?” he said at an announcement Thursday.
“We hope that when we’re done, we’re quite confident that this will be a beautiful, richly detailed addition to the skyline of Ottawa and the hotel and that it will feel compatible and feel natural against the historic hotel.”
The approach may be unpopular among some, but a heritage expert said it’s standard protocol when upgrading old buildings to utilize modern techniques.
"The feeling is that if you mimic the original architecture, you're not being honest. You're trying to fool the public into believing that that part of the building has always been there,” said David Jeanes of Heritage Ottawa.
The hotels’ current owner, Larco Investments Ltd., announced the plan Wednesday, saying they hope to break ground in mid-2017, and have the new building complete by 2020.
The hotel is planning to hold public consultations to get feedback on the design. But, in light of early criticism, the hotel’s director of development said the hotel is willing to modify its plans.
“Not a wholesale redesign, but a redesign that reflects some of the comments that we've received to date," said Art Phillips, director of development for Larco Investments.
Any design would require approval from the National Capital Commission and the City of Ottawa before breaking ground.
With a report from CTV News’ Glen McGregor