Skip To Content
View of the proposed addition from Major's Hill Park.

Château Laurier Expansion: Let’s not settle for anything less than excellence

By Leslie Maitland on March 9, 2018


Leslie Maitland is the co-chair of Heritage Ottawa.

The Château Laurier Hotel graces an exceptionally unique site of national importance.

It’s part of our country’s most significant and recognizable view. A view that encompasses the Château Laurier National Historic Site, the Rideau Canal UNESCO World Heritage Site, the heritage-designated Ottawa River, and the buildings on Parliament Hill atop the dramatic escarpment.

The building’s stunning châteauesque style speaks the language of romance, characterized by its irregular form, steep-pitched, turreted roofs, and ornate gables and dormers.

The proposed addition to the Château Laurier speaks a very different language. Its horizontal shape and glass and steel materials sit in jarring contrast to the historic hotel. They’re at complete odds with each other.

View from Parliament of the proposed addition.

Much has been said about architecture needing to be of its own time.

Absolutely it should be. But a modern addition also needs to be respectful of the original historic building. It should harmonize rather than detract from the building, or look incongruous.

In this case, for a successful modern expansion to have a harmonious relationship with the Château Laurier it needs to reflect the essential characteristics of the historic hotel: its non-box-like undulating form, its stone walls, and its treatment of windows.

Good design is timeless—and any addition to the Château Laurier must be just that.

The Château Laurier National Historic Site is too important a building, at too important a location, to settle for anything less.

“Your voice matters greatly.”

An application for the proposed addition has been filed by the hotel owners under the Ontario Heritage Act. Under the Act, the Mayor and Ottawa City Council will vote on whether to approve the proposed addition.

This will be the most important heritage application to come before this session of Ottawa City Council, and the most important of this generation.

Your voice matters greatly.

The city is seeking public feedback on the proposed addition in advance of preparing a recommendation report for Council’s consideration.

Read Heritage Ottawa’s position statement on the proposed Chateau Laurier addition here.

Your effort can help to preserve the integrity of this important heritage building. Thank you.

Visit page for more information and to complete the City’s online feedback form before the deadline on Friday, March 9.