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Globe and Mail: The Chateau Laurier Addition
Alex Bozikovic | June 19, 2018

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Relax, Ottawa: The Ch√Ęteau isnt falling

From Issue No. 270 | July 20, 2018

An assault on the castle! That’s been the tone of the intense popular debate in Ottawa over a proposed addition to the Château Laurier. The design by Toronto’s architectsAlliance has been cast as a “disgraceful act of heritage vandalism.” And yet the latest version of that design goes to the city’s built heritage subcommittee Monday with staff support. It might, at last, get built.

That is not the disaster that some heritage advocates fear; the addition, in its current form, is a respectful and respectable piece of architecture. But it sure won’t make everyone happy. Nothing could. 

The last two years of debate – call them the Château Wars – have taken place on two distinct fronts. One is the popular argument. Ottawans love the Château, and won’t accept any change at all. The other is a more subtle argument that the addition should mimic or mirror the existing Château.


First, the popular debate. Ever since the Château’s owners, Larco Investments, first revealed addition plans in 2016, Ottawans have been really angry. The Toronto architect Peter Clewes and his firm architectsAlliance, together with ERA Architects, drew up a new wing for the hotel – closing its U shape with new guest and meeting rooms – that was 12 storeys tall, facing Major’s Hill Park. It borrowed the limestone and copper of the Château but articulated the façades with an irregular grid of rectangles. Locals compared it to something out of Minecraft or Mordor. 

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