Home Page Election 2019 News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Hill Times Events Inside Ottawa Directory Hill Times Store Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
Subscribe Free Trial Reuse & Permissions Advertising
Log In
Opinion

Why the proposed addition to Ottawa’s Château Laurier should be redesigned

By Barry Padolsky      

The proposed architectural design has horrified many Canadians for its unsympathetic visual impact on the picturesque heritage values of the Château Laurier, a national historic site. The prime minister should step in.

The proposed addition impulsively disregards our national design standards that require new architectural additions to be compatibile with our heritage landmarks, accordin to Parks Canada Standards and Guidelines for Historic Places in Canada, 2008, writes Barry Padlosky. Images courtesy of Ross and McFarlane Architects based on design by Bradford Lee Gilbert Architect; Architectural Credit: First Addition (1927): John S. Archibald Architect; and Architects Alliance (2019); Barry Padolsky Associates Inc. Architects (2019)
Share a story
The story link will be added automatically.

OTTAWA—I have written the prime minister of Canada on the matter of the proposed controversial architectural addition to Ottawa’s Château Laurier Hotel. As the prime minister may be aware, Larco Investments, the hotel owners are planning a rather prominent expansion to this iconic architectural and historic landmark in the heart of the national capital.

The proposed architectural design has horrified many Canadians for its unsympathetic visual impact on the picturesque heritage values of the Château Laurier, a national historic site.

The proposed addition impulsively disregards our national design standards that require new architectural additions to be compatibile with our heritage landmarks, according to Parks Canada Standards and Guidelines for Historic Places in Canada, 2008).

Ottawa artist Andrew King’s tweeted his idea for the addition to the Château Laurier Hotel on June 1. Image courtesy of Andrew King’s Twitter handle

The proposed addition, an architectural box, aptly named the “radiator,” will also visually intrude into the treasured viewscapes of the Rideau Canal UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Canadian one dollar banknote (1973) captures one of these iconic views.

If this visual intrusion weren’t enough, the proposed expansion will cleverly conceal the views of Ottawa’s beloved Château from Major’s Hill Park, where untold thousands of citizens gather daily to admire and enjoy the beauties of our capital.

A quick glance at the two images should suffice to illustrate the “before and after” makeover of this romantic view from Major’s Hill Park, identified as Key View “A” by the NCC. For your information, the “after” view is not exaggerated. The proposed seven-storey hotel addition is 97 metres long, almost the length of the Redblacks football field at Lansdowne Park.

Sadly, the City of Ottawa has already approved this architectural eyesore, despite the fierce opposition of thousands of citizens (including heritage scholars and the City’s Built Heritage Sub-Committee).

And sadly, the National Capital Commission (created to foster and protect the character of the national capital) has claimed that it has no authority to intervene on a privately owned property in the Parliamentary Precinct.

Another view of Ottawa artist Andrew King’s vision for a better addition to the iconic Château Laurier Hotel. Image courtesy of Andrew King’s Twitter

If the prime minister is now concerned about this imminent act of visual vandalism in the heart of our capital, please intervene.

First, convene a meeting with Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, who is responsible for the NCC, and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, who is responsible for Parks Canada, and quietly suggest that they find a way to protect Parliament’s wonderful visual setting by demanding and enforcing a revised design for the Château’s expansion.

Second, invite the owners of the Château Laurier, the reclusive billionaire Lalji family, (who also own a portfolio of major office buildings in Ottawa rented by the Government of Canada), to voluntarily redesign their addition to our cherished Canadian heritage landmark. A national design competition could bring untold esteem to their reputation and a design worthy of our national capital.

Remembering that prime minister Wilfrid Laurier’s Dominion government sold a part of Major’s Hill Park in 1909 to enable the construction of the Château Laurier, I wonder what he would think today about the current prosaic proposal to remake the Château’s architectural identity?

Sir Wilfrid promoted the vision of an Ottawa as a “Washington of the North,” a capital that would inspire generations of Canadians.

The vision for the new Château Laurier just inspires dismay.

Barry Padolsky is an Ottawa architect, urban design and heritage consultant, and a member of the City of Ottawa Built Heritage Subcommittee.

The Hill Times 

Explore, analyze, understand
You Might Be From Canada If…
You Might Be From Canada If . . . is a delightful, illustrated romp through this country as it celebrates its 150th birthday.

Get the book
Inside Ottawa Directory – 2019 Edition
The handy reference guide includes: riding profiles, MPs by province, MP contact details, both Hill and constituency and more.

Get the book
Spinning History: A Witness to Harper’s Canada and 21st Century choices
An unvarnished look at the Harper years and what lies ahead for Canadians

Get the book

Politics This Morning

Get the latest news from The Hill Times

Politics This Morning


Your email has been added. An email has been sent to your address, please click the link inside of it to confirm your subscription.

Nearly 100 new MPs offer new face of Parliament, including 60 in flipped seats

In many ways the incoming Parliament looks quite similar to its predecessor, with 240 returning MPs, the same number of MPs who are Indigenous or a visible minority, and 10 more women.

Rise of advance voting raising questions about impact on, and of, campaigns: experts

Almost 4.8-million Canadians voted at advance polls this year, according to Elections Canada estimates, a roughly 30.6 per cent increase over 2015, accounting for roughly one-quarter of all ballots cast this election.

Watchdog’s proposed minority Parliament rules ‘appalling,’ says legal expert

News|By Mike Lapointe
Democracy Watch says Governor General should speak with all party leaders before deciding who can try forming government, but Emmett Macfarlane says the confidence convention is the linchpin of the parliamentary system.

McKenna may be moved to new cabinet role after four years implementing Grits’ climate policies, say politicos

News|By Neil Moss
Catherine McKenna's 'tenure in environment would have prepared her well for any other kind of responsibility the prime minister may assign,' says former environment minister Jean Charest.

‘They went with what they knew’: Politicos react to Election 43

'If anybody should've won a majority, it should've been Trudeau. He didn't, and it's his to wear,' says CBC columnist Neil Macdonald of the Oct. 21 election results.

‘A clear mandate’: Trudeau wins second term, with voters handing Liberals a minority

News|By Beatrice Paez
Though not improbable, his victory was not inevitable. It brings an end to a nail-biting, gruelling 40-day slog that has exposed deepening rifts across the country.

McKenna wins re-election in Ottawa Centre, trumpets voters’ support for climate fight

News|By Neil Moss
'I’m so relieved,' Catherine McKenna said, about continuing with the Liberal climate change plan.

Election 2019 was a ‘campaign of fear,’ say pollsters

'There may well be a message to this to the main parties, that slagging each other will only take you so far,' says Greg Lyle.

Election 2019 campaign one of the most ‘uninspiring, disheartening, and dirtiest’ in 40 years, says Savoie

News|By Abbas Rana
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says she has never seen an election where mudslinging overwhelmingly dominated the campaign, leaving little or no time for policy discussion.
Your group subscription includes premium access to Politics This Morning briefing.