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An exhibition of alternative designs for an addition to the Château Laurier

November 15, 2018
The Kitchissippi Times

Ever since the first design proposal for an addition to the Château Laurier was unveiled over two years ago, frustrated Ottawans have been asking, “can’t it be something other than a rectangular box?” Now, students at Carleton University’s Azrieli School of Architecture and
Urbanism have answered that question with a resounding “yes!” In an exhibition sponsored by Heritage Ottawa that will run December 8 and 9 at the Hintonburg Community Centre, the public will be able to see the students’ designs for an addition to the Château – and see just what is possible when one thinks “outside the box.”

The students’ work grew out of a third-year design assignment that was the brainchild of Carleton architecture professor Mariana Esponda. As the outcry against the proposed design grew, she sensed an opportunity for her students to flex their creative muscles. “I told them their designs had to have a dialogue with the Château that the proposals we’ve seen so far haven’t had,” she says. “It was a wonderful opportunity for the students to see how they could create a better design.”

In response, the students have produced a remarkable array of drawings, models and plans, all of which will be on display at the exhibition. What they all share is a deep respect for the bold, picturesque forms of the historic hotel, and a desire to harmonize with those forms while also
contributing something new and original to the mix.

The exhibition was organized by Heritage Ottawa board member Peter Coffman, who is also Supervisor of Carleton’s History and Theory of Architecture program. “It’s obvious that the public really cares about this building, but the conversation we’ve been having has been stunted by the very narrow range of design ideas that have been offered,” he observes. “The students’ designs are a breath of fresh air, full of thoughtful and creative ideas. For the first time, Ottawans will have multiple concepts to consider, and I think they will be amazed by what they see. Hopefully, this will spur the conversation that we should have been having for the last two years.”

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