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Why is this child smiling? Maybe it’s because he isn’t looking at the new addition to the Château Laurier

I really thought it would be harder this time around. I thought that after a public consultation and several long months to think it over, Larco Investments’ third proposal for an addition to the Château Laurier would be a bit harder for the project’s detractors to find fault with. But even that low bar proved too high.

The latest proposal, which you can see here, is astonishing in its insensitivity and historical illiteracy. It could not show less concern or respect for the older building if it tried – in fact, I’m starting to think that’s exactly what it is trying to do.

In short: a symmetrical, rectilinear glass box is never going to look anything but grotesque attached to an irregular, overtly dramatic and romantic masonry building like the Château Laurier. The Château is fire, the addition is water. Combining them means mutual annihilation.

I imagine – and hope – that there will be abundant public discussion about this proposal in the days to come. I will, inevitably, be blogging about this further in the days to come, making more detailed critiques, and exploring the reasons – the many, many reason – why this design is an abject failure. But one thing needs to be stated up front: this design would be an architectural and heritage calamity for Ottawa, and must be opposed.

Peter Coffman

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Say goodbye to this iconic view, if Larco gets its way