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