The City received a site plan control application for an addition to the rear of the Château Laurier in December 2016. Planning staff requested comments from the public and interest groups through two formal circulations (winter 2017 and winter 2018). Council approved the demolition of the parking garage in January 2018. A revised design was submitted and Council conditionally approved the application to alter the heritage building in spring 2018.
Circulation 1 (February 14 to March 15, 2017)
This As We Heard It Report [PDF 475 KB] summarizes the completed feedback form submissions. City planning staff have read all of the public comments received and have updated the Frequently Asked Questions in response.
The City also convened a group of heritage professionals to provide expert advice on the design of the addition. The Heritage Working Group met three times between February and April 2017, and offered design feedback directly to the architect and design team. Staff from the City and the National Capital Commission, and the property owner were also present at the meetings of the Heritage Working Group.
City staff and NCC staff also provided feedback on the original design and subsequent iterations throughout the spring, summer and fall of 2017. Key discussion points included:
- Height and massing
- Roof expression
- Window patterns
- Stone or glass exterior cladding
- Addition to appear as a standalone building beside the iconic architecture of the hotel
- Public realm interface and how the building connects to the adjacent Rideau Canal terraces, Major’s Hill Park and Mackenzie Avenue
Parking garage demolition (2018)
On January 31, 2018, City Council approved an application to demolish the garage of the Château Laurier. The garage was structurally unsound and the applicant planned to demolish the upper four storeys, leaving a surface parking lot for guests.
Circulation 2 (February 9 to March 9, 2018)
In response to these comments, Larco submitted a revised proposal in February 2018. City staff held a community meeting on February 28, 2018, and approximately 80 people attended. You may watch the presentation on Rogers TV.
As before, City planning staff read all of the comments (emails, comment sheets, telephone calls) and summarized the completed feedback form submissions. Staff identified a variety of themes:
- No change should be permitted
- An addition should match the existing hotel’s architecture
- The proposed design lacks compatibility
- The design should be bolder.
- The addition is too high and obscures views to the existing building
- The addition will alter sight lines along Mackenzie Avenue.
- Glass is not an appropriate exterior material
- The architecture is undesirable
The property is within a Design Priority Area and the Site Plan Control application was subject to the Urban Design Review Panel (UDRP) process. The architect and the Larco team presented their proposal to the UDRP at a formal review meeting on March 1, 2018, which was open to the public, and at a focused design review session on April 10 with City staff and three panel members. The March 1 recommendations and both sessions informed the changes within the May 2018 revised proposal.
May 2018 design
In May 2018, Larco Investments submitted a proposal for a seven-storey, 164-room addition at the rear of the existing Château Laurier. The development proposal retains the Château Laurier in its entirety, and replaces the remaining walls of the parking garage with an L-shaped addition, which will abut limited areas on the Château Laurier’s east and west wings.
City staff supported this design and wrote a report with recommendations to the Built Heritage Sub-Committee (BHSC).
Heritage permit application approved with conditions (June 2018)
On June 27, 2018, City Council gave conditional approval to the application to alter the Chateau Laurier at 1 Rideau Street, a property designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act.
The Built Heritage Sub-Committee had recommended approval of the addition’s massing and location and the proposed landscaping, but indicated that more work was required to make the addition more visually compatible with the existing hotel.
The sub-committee directed staff to work with the applicant to visually and physically break up the massing of the addition as seen from the north. There was also direction to increase the amount of limestone used and to ensure that all façades draw inspiration from the window patterns and architectural elements of the historic hotel.
Through this decision, Council did not require that the addition be changed to a Château-style building nor that exact architectural elements be copied from the existing hotel.
Revised design submitted (February 2019)
To address the conditions of the heritage permit issued in June 2018, Larco Investments altered the exterior design of the proposed addition and submitted new plans in February 2019. The north façade of the addition has been divided into three asymmetrical parts: an east pavilion, a connector and a west pavilion. The pavilions are clad in Indiana limestone and the connector between them is glass. The addition has bronze accents. The base of the addition includes some granite, which is similar to the existing building’s east wing. The addition has varied setbacks along the north property line to add visual interest and the top two storeys of the connector have also been set back.
The north entrance facing the park is now defined by a double-height entryway. The hotel rooms above this entrance were removed to create a lobby space at the elevators and to make the historic building visible through the addition. There are now 147 rooms in the addition, reduced from the 164 previously proposed in June.
There are new exterior pathways, interior corridors, entrances and publicly accessible spaces, including a courtyard and a staircase that links to the Rideau Canal terraces. Parking is within the five-level, 361-space, underground parking garage. The functionality of the Mackenzie Avenue forecourt for loading and deliveries has been improved and street trees and landscaping have been added.