Why local resident John Ruddy supports the Château Laurier addition

John Ruddy is Executive Chairman of Trinity Development Group Inc. in Ottawa. John was born in Ottawa, and grew up visiting the Château Laurier. It holds a very special place in his heart, as he celebrated his marriage in the hotel’s main ballroom in 1990. He outlines his many reasons for supporting the addition in his article published in the Ottawa Citizen: https://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/ruddy-there-are-good-reasons-to-support-the-proposed-chateau-laurier-addition.

Ruddy: There are good reasons to support the proposed Château Laurier addition

John Ruddy | August 15th, 2019

“Far from blocking the building, the proposed extension will actually integrate this iconic landmark into the fabric of downtown life. Here’s how.

As a proud Ottawa resident by birth and a developer by trade, I have watched the debate over the proposed addition to the Château Laurier with great interest. The château holds a special place in my heart, as it does for many of my friends and neighbours. As a young child returning home from trips to Montreal, I remember the thrill of entering into the hotel from the tunnel connecting it to the train station; I learned to swim in the hotel pool; and in 1990, I was lucky enough to celebrate my marriage to the love of my life in the hotel’s main ballroom.

I want to see the Château Laurier remain the heart of our downtown core as much as anyone, and I fundamentally believe that the best way to do this is to move forward with the new addition.”

The full Ottawa Citizen article can be viewed here.

Peter Clewes from architectsAlliance, speaks about the Château Laurier Addition

Your Worship Mayor Watson and Members of City Council

Over the past three years we have worked extensively with the City of Ottawa Planning and Heritage staff and the National Capital Commission to develop a design that responds to criteria established by the City, the NCC, and Parks Canada. Our work has included the participation of multiple public meetings, a working advisory committee and multiple presentations to the respective design review panels of the City of Ottawa and the NCC.

On 27 June 2018, City Council provided conditional approval of the heritage permit. The Council motion delegated the approval of final design changes to the General Manager of Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development. The motion also delegated approval of the site plan application (SPA) to the Planning Committee.

On 13 June 2019, the Planning Committee received a staff report indicating the proposal met the design conditions related to the Heritage Permit and recommending approval of the site plan. The Committee approved the SPA that same day.

A total of five iterations were developed which culminated in the scheme that was approved by the Planning Committee. In all of our work our focus has been to be good listeners and ultimately design a building that will be a respectful and fitting addition to the Château Laurier.

The public engagement in the process has been extensive and robust and speaks to the importance of the Château Laurier both to the City of Ottawa and the Country. While the public debate has been passionate, it is important to understand that there is a process of engagement and review that has been followed. We believe that what the Planning Committee approved ultimately represents and attempts to synthetize all of the commentary that has been received throughout the process.

Fundamentally it is a debate of what is an appropriate architectural response to a National Historic structure. There is a continuum of thought that runs from those that believe that nothing short of replicating the existing architectural language of the Château will be acceptable to the belief that buildings ultimately are markers and cultural expressions of our time. It is a debate that necessarily includes the general public and professionals from both Public Agencies and at large.

In the end we believe, through an extensive collective engagement and debate, that we have crafted a building that will both be appropriately subordinate and deferential to the Château and at the same time exhibit an exceptional level of care in detail and materiality. A building that will establish a beautiful and fitting connection to Major’s Hill Park, enhance the Canal promenade and adopt a respectful position on McKenzie Avenue. A building that will ultimately bridge the cultural divide from that which comes before us to our future.

Yours truly,
Peter Clewes, FRAIC, OAA, AAA, SAA, AIBC, AIA (NY, MA)
Founding Partner architectsAlliance

Correspondence to Mayor Watson and Members of Council

Correspondence to Mayor Watson and Members of Council, signed jointly by Art Phillips and Dennis Jacobs, written on behalf of the Capital Holdings Ltd. the owners of the Fairmont Château Laurier Hotel.

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

We are writing to you as the Director of Development for Capital Holdings Ltd., the owner of the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, and as the lead consultant on this project. By way of background, Art Phillips has worked with the parent company Larco Investments Ltd. for 32 years, and Dennis Jacobs, of Momentum Planning and Communications, was engaged to be a local point of contact and to manage the approvals processes in February of 2016. Dennis Jacobs’ past public sector experience has been that of the Director of Policy Planning for the City of Ottawa from 2000 to 2007.

We can attest to Larco’s keen interest in, and commitment to, this project and their desire to design and construct an addition on this site that will be a lasting benefit to the hotel property and to the community as a whole. It is their commitment to quality and community engagement that led us to conduct a selection process involving leading architects from across Canada and kept us and our architectural team at the drawing board since the fall of 2016, working hand and hand with local stakeholders, both professional and community based, as well as City staff.

On June 27, 2018, and after this extensive community engagement, City Council unanimously granted the conditional approval of a heritage permit based on the massing, height and building footprint presented in May 2018. We were directed to work on alterations to the facade and form to achieve the design objectives clearly outlined in the approval. Final approval of the Site Plan Control Application was taken back from staff and given to Planning Committee to ensure that elected officials made the final decision on the proposal based on professional staff input.

On June 13, 2019, the Planning Committee granted a final approval of the site plan and accepted staffs recommendation that the design objectives related to the heritage permit had been achieved to their satisfaction.

Even though the land is privately owned, we understood the potential impacts on Federal lands and so we actively consulted numerous times with the NCC’s design review panel and staff. Given the site’s location adjacent to the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, we actively sought the input from Parks Canada and have a letter indicating their general concurrence with the design as presented to the Planning Committee.

We have followed the Parks Canada Standards and Guidelines which require the addition to not replicate the historic Chateau but to remain distinct and of its time. We have also complied with Ottawa’s view corridor requirements, protecting the significant views as required by the Official Plan.

As well, we have voluntarily considered the NCC guidelines prepared in 2008 specifically for the Fairmont Chateau Laurier property in the design review process. I say voluntarily because these views, which include those from Major’s Hill Park, are not governed by any City of Ottawa policy or by-law and at the end of the day, the approval of the proposed site plan and building design is a municipal responsibility under the Planning and Heritage Acts of Ontario.

It is very regrettable that we find ourselves today being castigated for being responsible participants who followed all the right processes. After extensive community engagement, and extensive consultations with governmental authorities, we received a conditional heritage permit, which by the way was drafted by Mr. Barry Padolsky, as co-chair and Mr. Tobi Nussbaum, as chair, of the City of Ottawa’s Built Heritage Committee. We subsequently received a positive staff report from the City of Ottawa, and that report was adopted by the Planning Committee and Council.

Further we feel that all of Council should be aware that Mr. Padolsky’s opposition to the project may not be for altogether altruistic reasons. At the outset of this project, Mr. Padolsky was considered, but not chosen as the lead heritage architect on the Fairmont Chateau Laurier addition. Given the importance of this debate, it is our opinion that Mr. Padolsky should have made the public and members of Council aware of this perceived conflict of interest when the application was first presented to the Built Heritage Committee.

We recognize that there has been significant controversy in Ottawa over our proposed design. Everyone has agreed that the above ground garage previously occupying the site had no heritage value and served only to limit any physical connection with Major’s Hill Park. However, what we have learned over the last three years is that there is no unanimity on what should replace the garage. If the addition were to replicate the Chateau it would be inconsistent with Parks Canada standards, blurring the authenticity of the original Chateau. And, it would be inconsistent with municipal policy, which requires the addition to be tucked below the original hotel’s iconic skyline to ensure its prominence and visibility from the park and all other significant views.

It is with the greatest respect that we seek your support in allowing this project to proceed based on the approval rightfully granted on June 13th by Planning Committee.

Yours sincerely,

Art Phillips, Director of Development at Capital Holidings
Dennis Jacobs MCIP RPP, Principal Planner at Momentum Planning & Communications

City of Ottawa Planning Committee approves Château Laurier Site Plan for new addition

After more than 800 days from Larco Investments Ltd, initial request, City Planning Committee has approved the Château Laurier’s site plan for the new addition at the rear of the hotel, replacing the demolished garage. The approval of the new development was based on the following Staff recommendations:

  • The Addition is consistent with the Official Plan, the Central Area Secondary Plan and relevant design guidelines,
  • The protected views of Parliament Buildings are maintained,
  • The development meets the ‘Mixed-Use Downtown’ zone except for an aspect of the Heritage Overlay, whereby a minor variance is required and,
  • The heritage permit conditions have been met.

Here’s a link to the City’s website for more details: https://ottawa.ca/en/news/committee-approves-chateau-laurier-addition?fbclid=IwAR03SiN_d2ichQe7_NFt8nfIg1LjY0O8CeO1NUfdMkfHaD1d6nRw1Jttqzk

For more information, please contact Suzanne Valiquet at 613-222-7839

Final design tweaks in response to the city’s urban design review panel recommendations


  • Since The Château Laurier Hotel property is located within one of the city’s Design Priority Areas and its Site Plan Control application is subject to the Urban Design Review Panel (UDRP) process, architectsAlliance, Larco Investments’ architectural team presented their February 2018 proposal to the UDRP at a meeting on March 1, 2018.
  • On April 10, 2018 the architectural team also presented at a focused design review session to both City staff and three UDRP panel members.
  • The Panel then reviewed the February 2019 design response to Council’s direction on the heritage permit on March 1, 2019.


  • Challenging project as it is a high-profile site
  • Appreciated the lower height (down from 12 originally to 7 storeys)
  • Positive contributions that the development will make to the public realm
  • Further study was required of the east pavilion base and the central portion of glass between the east and west pavilions
  • Suggested a more solid base
  • East pavilion to more closely resemble the more successful west pavilion and less glass or screened glass in between


  • More Indiana Limestone and Granite
  • Less glass
  • Clearer base-middle-top articulation for the east pavilion
  • Using screens and opaque or patterned glass to reduce the night-time effects and impacts to birds on the glass-cad sections of the addition
  • Better organization of the stone panels in the addition’s base; and
  • Solid bronze returns at the corners


The proposed new glass corridor, interior courtyard, Mackenzie Avenue pedestrian forecourt along with Major’s Hill Park side pathway creates connections between the existing hotel and its surroundings while enhancing the area’s walkability and overall visitor experience.

One could enter the addition’s entrance and walk through to the front entrance of the Château Laurier instead of having to walk around the outside of the existing Château.

The proposed development will make it easier to access Major’s Hill Park and surrounding buildings such as the National Art Gallery and provide quicker access to the ByWard Market.

Number of Units

The original design featured 218 rooms. The refined design now has 147 rooms.

Number of Parking Spaces: 361


For more information please visit the City of Ottawa website or contact svaliquet@momentumplancom.ca – (613) 222-7839

Design has been further refined in response to council’s conditional approval


  • The original application was made in December 2016 which proposed two pavilions of 11 and 12 storeys containing 218 rooms, separated by a raised outdoor terrace and included an interior courtyard and a 5-storey underground parking garage with 385 spaces.
  • Larco Investments Ltd. architectural team has continued to work with the feedback received to date in consultation with City staff to respond to City Council’s conditional approval of the Heritage permit dated July 3, 2018.


Massing of the Addition has been redefined to increase visual interest in a manner that reflects the character of the Château.

1. Breaking Up The Massing

  • Addition is now conceived as a complementary arrangement of three (3) elements:
    • Two (2) asymmetrical Pavilions that anchor the northeast and northwest corners of the site, connected by a transparent Connector clad in “capless” or glass curtain wall and are framed in bronze.
    • The new Massing of the Addition echoes the form of the Château itself: Pavilions correspond to the east and west arms of the original structure, and the Connector relates to the Grand Ballroom and French Corridor.
    • A double-height Entryway at the point where the East Pavilion meets the Connector, further defines the north face of the Addition.

2. Increasing the use of Stone

A significant use of Indiana Limestone and Granite has been added to the Addition.

East and West Pavilions are now bound in dramatic vertical limestone piers, mirroring the solidity and materiality of the existing hotel.

Granite slabs feature extensively at ground level on the east, north and west faces of the Addition, in reference to the base of the Château’s East Wing.

3. Referencing the Original Structure

The Château Laurier’s tripartite design proportions are now better reflected in the Addition.


A clearly defined base is clad in granite relieved with a rhythmic pattern of large, glazed openings that reflect the proportions that reflect the hotel’s base.


Above the base, redesigned fenestration patterns and building skin or “cladding” now reflect more closely the existing solid-to-void ratio and regularity of the Château’s east and west elevations.

East Pavilion: is clad in a dramatic skin of limestone piers alternating with clear glass framed in bronze. Angling out toward Mackenzie Avenue, the east face of the Pavilion is inset with a panel of capless (or glass) curtain wall that aligns with the cornice (ledge)line above the hotel’s base and references the oriel (ornate) windows and turrets punctuating the east elevation of the Château.

Connector: On the north elevation of the Connector, a glass-clad atrium above the new entrance reveals and reinforces the edge of the Château’s east wing.

West Pavilion: is clad in an interlacing arrangement of piers and glass panels that reflect the hotel’s dormered roofline and dentilated cornice (edge). The mid-section projects 3m north toward the edge of the Park, reinforcing the distinction between base and mid-section that characterizes the existing hotel. It is connected to the hotel by a three (3)-storey link that aligns with the cornice line of the hotel. A grand staircase passes beneath the elevated link to connect the National Capital Commission Terrace and the new courtyard between the Addition and the Château.


West Pavilion: the top two (2) storeys align visually with the setback in the Connector. Clad in capless (glass) curtain wall, they reference the turreted tower forms of the hotel.



The Addition maintains a consistent overall height of seven (7) storeys or 23.0 meters high. The top two (2) storeys of the Connector are set back to mitigate the height of the structure as seen from Major’s Hill Park.

New Entrance

A gracious new entrance facing Major’s Hill Park leads through the new parterre courtyard and into the Château`s Grand Ballroom, completing a new north-south circulation spice from the main hotel Lobby on Wellington Street through to the Park.

Building Detail Materials Referencing the Original Hotel

Intended to reference the Château, details will include bronze framing, bronze loading doors, embossed with a quatrefoil pattern that reference a motif used in the parterre courtyard, and a fritted glass pattern that references a tile motif in the Château’s interior.

Number of Units

The original design featured 218 rooms. The refined design now has 147 rooms.

Number of Parking Spaces: 361


For more information please visit the City of Ottawa website or contact svaliquet@momentumplancom.ca – (613) 222-7839

February 28th design has been further refined and submitted to the City of Ottawa


  • The original application was made in December 2016 which proposed two pavilions of 11 and 12 storeys containing 218 rooms, separated by a raised outdoor terrace and included an interior courtyard and a 5-storey underground parking garage with 385 spaces.
  • General concerns were primarily about height and massing; roof expressions; fenestration and materials; subordinate relationship to the existing hotel and Major’s Hill Park, and impact on views of the hotel.
  • A Heritage Working Group of architects and landscape architects established by City, provided direction.
  • A revised application submitted in February 2018 proposes a contemporary single 8-storey building sitting separate and distinct along the edge of the Confederation Park, containing 171 rooms, an interior courtyard and a 5-storey underground parking garage of 370 spaces.
  • A formal submission to the City’s Urban Design Review Panel (UDRP) was done on March 1, and was then followed by a subcommittee of UDRP on April 10.
  • Support for this approach was provided by City Staff with some additional direction on massing, height and materials.
  • In summary, the Larco Investments Ltd. architectural team took into account the public’s feedback along with the Heritage Working Group, the City’s Urban Design Review Panel and City Staff recommendations to create the revised design of the proposed Château Laurier addition project.

Overview of Revised Design

  • Overall height reduced to 7 storeys with new 4 storeys connecting to west wing of hotel.
  • Dramatic changes were made to the new design’s façade. Incorporated are more Indiana Limestone and bronze.
  • The North West corner will now allow for improved pedestrian connections to the lower terrace and Mackenzie Avenue.
  • The North West corner offers a magnificent visual appearance from the concrete wall to a glass façade via a grand stairway which has an accessible lift.
  • The revised design suggests opening Major’s Hill Park for better access for pedestrians and cyclists with lit pathways.

Revised Addition Design Features

  • Reduction to 164 rooms from original design of 218 rooms. A difference of 54 guest rooms.
  • There is an additional meeting room at the lower terrace level.
  • Parking spaces have been reduced from 385 to 349 spaces. A difference of 36 spaces.
  • A much greater use of Indiana Limestone and bronze has been added to the addition along with the use of fritted glass on east and west building sides.
  • Redesign has taken into consideration protection for the birds.

For more information, please visit the City of Ottawa website or contact svaliquet@momentumplancom.ca.


PRESS RELEASE: New Proposed Fairmont Château Laurier Addition features a lighter, separated and more subordinate building form

New Proposed Fairmont Château Laurier Addition features a lighter, separated and more subordinate building form

(Ottawa, February 8, 2018) During a briefing session held for City Councillors today at City Hall, Art Phillips, Director of Development for Larco Investments Ltd. along with Dennis Jacobs, Principal Planner at Momentum Planning and Communications unveiled the revised concept for the new hotel addition. The new design is a substantial change from the original concept. It is a single, linear, 8-storey pavilion, with a total of 171 suites and is intended to replace the 5-storey existing parking structure. This is significantly smaller than the original concept which had two attached wings of 11 and 12-stories high with a total of 218 suites. Larco’s Team responded to the comments raised by the public and received from the City’s Heritage Working Group. As a result of these consultations, a totally new approach was adopted.

Over the course of 2017 there has been ongoing dialogue with City staff and input from the general public that has influenced the new design, stated Art Philips. Our Team has been actively participating in the City’s Heritage Working Group meetings composed of experts in the fields of architecture and landscape architecture. Concerns with the original design were identified and recommendations have assisted in the design’s evolution, Phillips added.

The new addition features meeting rooms on the ground floor instead of suites and a magnificent glass hallway that will run from the existing Hotel’s interior corridor all the way through to the new pavilion providing direct access and connectivity between the old and the new.

Attention has been given to the viewpoints from Parliament Hill and the National War Memorial, by allowing a distinct separation of 18.35 metres from the west or canal side wing of the Hotel building, instead of the 5.9 metres in the previous scheme. The distances between the original building and the new addition, allow for the two to be distinctly separate.

The Château Laurier`s signature rooftops are clearly visible from every site view point, especially when looking from Major`s Hill Park, or Parliament Hill. The new addition will include a 5-storey underground garage with 370 vehicular spaces.

The addition incorporates a series of architectural strategies including a lower overall height and a lightened structure to ensure it remains subordinate and complimentary to the Hotel.

The chosen materials of white steel, clear glass and patterned frit ‘rosettes’ inspired from the ballroom coffered ceilings, give the addition an airier quality that appears as a counterpoint to the heavier limestone and copper of the historic castle. The Château`s ballroom windows will be transformed into majestic doors leading into a timeless interior courtyard as well as a green roof on the addition and beautifully landscaped gardens will be added.

The new design concept from Peter Clewes of architectsAlliance follows the direction set forth by the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada, a Federal Provincial and Territorial Collaboration. Standard 11 reads: Make the new work physically and visually compatible with, subordinate to and distinguishable from the historic place.

Application Process

With the resubmission under the ongoing site plan approval process completed, City staff will be circulating the plans for technical and public comment. On February 28, 2018, a public open house will take place at City Hall.

Following the public open house, there will be a public meeting at the City’s Urban Design Review Panel (UDRP) as well as at the Built Heritage Subcommittee (BHSC) before preparing a recommendation to Planning Committee and Council.

Larco has also had input from staff at the National Capital Commission, as well as pre- consultations through its Advisory Committee on Planning, Design and Realty (ACPDR) as part of their role, in granting regulatory federal approvals.

Construction could potentially begin in early 2019.

Technical and design information for the application can be found on Larco’s project website at ChateauVision.ca. As of Friday, February 9 the City’s DevApps Web page will also feature the application. On both sites there is an outlet for the public to provide feedback. Please visit the City of Ottawa website at: https://ottawa.ca/en/chateau- laurier-addition

For more information please contact: Suzanne Valiquet, Momentum Planning and Communications at 613-222-7839


MEDIA ADVISORY: Château Laurier new addition project

OTTAWAFeb. 6, 2018 /CNW/ – Larco Investments Ltd., the owner of the Fairmont Château Laurier, invites members of the media to attend an information meeting to learn about the resubmission plans for the proposed addition to the hotel building that involves the replacement of the current 5-storey parking structure that will enhance Ottawa’s landscape. We look forward to this opportunity to present our plans to you.

Thursday, February 8, 2018
Ottawa City Hall – Colonel By Room, 2nd Floor
2:00 to 3:30 p.m.

The event will be hosted by Art Phillips, Director of Development at Larco Investments Ltd. In attendance as well will be Dennis Jacobs, Principal, Land Use Planner at Momentum Planning and Communications.

SOURCE Momentum Planning and Communications

For further information: please contact Suzanne Valiquet, Momentum Planning and Communications, T 613-729- 3773, M 613-222- 7839, svaliquet@momentumplancom.ca

Parking garage closure and partial demolition permit application

1. Why is Larco Investments closing and seeking to partially demolish the Fairmont Château Laurier Parking Garage?

The Château Laurier 5-storey garage was built back in 1969. Due to age and Ottawa’s harsh climate that the facility has endured over the years, the hotel’s structural engineers have recommended that the garage be closed as of Thursday January 4, 2018 for the safety and security of hotel guests and employees. An application to partially demolish the structure has been filed with the City of Ottawa.

2. What procedure must Larco Investments follow to apply for a partial demolition permit from the City of Ottawa?

The City of Ottawa has acknowledged receipt of the application to partially demolish the Château Laurier Parking Garage. The Château Laurier is designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act and therefore a heritage permit issued by City Council, under the provisions of the Ontario Heritage Act, is required before its demolition can proceed. The report considering the application will be presented at the Built Heritage Subcommittee at its meeting on Thursday January 11, 2018. It will then proceed to Planning Committee on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 and to City Council on Wednesday, January 31, 2018. Both the Built Heritage Subcommittee and Planning Committee meetings are public with the agendas published one week in advance.

3. Once the demolition is complete when and what will replace the existing parking garage?

The demolition and reconstruction project of the parking garage is scheduled to begin in February 2018 with an anticipated completion before May 2018. At that time a continuation of the existing parking garage using the first level will be ready to accommodate guests of the hotel. It will consist of approximately 90 parking spaces in total.

4. What happens during the closure of the existing parking garage?

It is business as usual at the Château Laurier. The hotel has a full plan in place to offer valet services to all of its registered guests through Indigo Canada. Pro-active communication has taken place with guests, groups and clients about the closure of the parking garage, and the hotel continues to share information as guests reserve a room or book an event. In addition, the hotel will provide a list of parking lots in and around the hotel for those who wish to self-park. This information will be also readily available on the hotel Website.

5. Does this partial demolition of the existing parking garage impact the proposed expansion project?

The demolition of the Château Laurier’s existing parking garage is strictly a public safety matter and is no way related to Larco Investments expansion plans. The hotel’s parking structure would have been demolished and replaced regardless of the expansion proposal.

6. What exactly is being demolished?

The five storey parking garage will be torn down. The remaining ground level infrastructure surface will be reconstructed to accommodate approximately 90 vehicles.

7. Will there be another parking garage built eventually?

Larco Investments hotel expansion proposal includes a 5-storey underground parking garage.