Ottawa

Château Carleton? Architecture students take stab at hotel addition

Two years of conflict over plans to expand the historic Fairmont Château Laurier got Carleton University architecture professor Mariana Esponda thinking.

Château Laurier's proposed redesign has already been changed 4 times

Third-year Carleton University architecture students are taking their best shot at redesigning Ottawa's iconic Fairmont Château Laurier. Models of their designs will be on display at the university later this week. (Submitted)

Two years of conflict over plans to expand the historic Fairmont Château Laurier got Carleton University architecture professor Mariana Esponda thinking.

Why not invite her third-year students — part of a unique program in conservation and sustainability — to come up with their own proposals for the landmark, implementing everything they're learning in the classroom? 

"[I wanted them] to be sharp in their creativity. To really understand the context of the Château, being near Major's Hill Park, Parliament, the world heritage site of the [Rideau] Canal," said Esponda.

"I thought it was really important to respect that and understand that. And also to understand the evolution of the Château." 

In the end, this was the actual design by Architects Alliance that was given the green light by city staff in June 2018. (architectsAlliance)

'They have to be respectful'

The hotel's owner, Largo Investments has been trying to redevelop the hotel's deteriorating parking garage since 2016. 

Architects Alliance, the firm tasked with designing the actual addition, was sent back to the drawing board three times before getting approval in principle this summer from the city's heritage experts.

Inspired by that controversy, Esponda gave her students three weeks to come up with a contemporary interpretation of the building that wouldn't diminish its stature.

"They have to be respectful. Their addition has to be subordinate," she said.

Models of the eight proposals will be on display for two days at Carleton's school of architecture, beginning Thursday at 2 p.m. 

Here's a glimpse at some of the proposals. 


'The Noble' is Carleton University architecture student Luis Panchi Galvan's proposed redevelopment of the Château Laurier. (Submitted)
The 'Sitelines' proposal was submitted by Teagan Hyndman and Lauren Liebe. (Submitted)
These architectural drawings were submitted by students Kaleigh Mackay and Carlee Wale. (Submitted)

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