The Frustration Of Saving The Chateau

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Ken Gray 3 months ago.

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  • #746354 Reply

    Ken Gray
    Keymaster

    Poor Heritage Ottawa.

    The good organization must be horribly frustrated and demoralized dealing with the politicians and some business people in this community.

    City council has essentially said it doesn’t care about heritage. A heritage building comes up to be discussed at committee and opponents of the project are treated in much the same way as tree-huggers … disdainfully.

    One would hope in a bright community such as Ottawa that the architectural beauty of the Parliamentary district would rub off across the rest of the community. But it does not. Ottawa outside the district is Everywhere North America. Land someone in suburban Ottawa, and they’d be likely to exclaim, “Are we in Dallas?”

    Meanwhile, we let the Les Soeurs de la Visitation convent rot behind a wall of condos.

    So rather than the Parliamentary district affecting the rest of Ottawa, the area is under assault by the same forces that are turning this city into just another Plain Jane community.

    The new addition on the Chateau Laurier, after the horrible previous edition was universally dismissed as lousy, has all the subtlety of the Berlin Wall without the charm.

    Heritage Ottawa has called on Canadians to protest the new Chateau space. And so they should. This is precious ground … it part of the area that celebrates Canada.

    Surely the citizens of Ottawa and city council should stand up and condemn this desecration of precious land at the Chateau. This is not just another faceless condo just outside Westboro, dubiously celebrated by the mayor and a development company with interest in the area recently as the best neighbourhood in the city. Hello Rockcliffe.

    Save the Chateau. They aren’t making history anymore.

     

    The new Chateau addition. Same old stuff.

    2+
    #746400 Reply

    Ron Benn

    The area around Parliament Hill, including the Byward Market, is a tourist draw. As such, the architectural elements of new buildings need to integrate into the surrounding historic buildings, and the preservation of existing historic buildings needs to be paramount.

    To get a sense of how iconic the Chateau Laurier is, millions of visitors to Epcot Centre have seen a scaled down approximation of the Chateau Laurier, without even knowing, when they the visit the Canada Pavilion. Sarcasm alert – if it is iconic enough for Disney World to imitate, then it should be iconic enough for Ottawa’s city council to protect. Approving the erection of a glass clad cubic rectangle beside the Chateau Laurier is an affront to the very concept of protecting the heritage of this city.

    In contrast, what happens to a non-descript red brick house in Sandy Hill should be of little concern to the city, notwithstanding that Lester Pearson slept there.

    All of which brings me to pointing out a self-inflicted problem for Heritage Ottawa. It diminishes the quality of its output when its members chatter on mindlessly (and I chose that word very carefully) about a building when its connection to history or heritage is strained at best, and requires several hundred words to inadequately convey (and this from an individual who uses far too many words to convey his thoughts).

    3+
    #746524 Reply

    Ken Gray
    Keymaster

    Ron:

    This addition would look bad in Westboro … and that’s quite an accomplishment … let alone on one of the most important buildings in Canada.

    cheers

    kgray

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    #746582 Reply

    EajD

    Ken, methinks you’re a bit rash is saying, re the Chateau addition, that “City council has essentially said it doesn’t care about heritage.” What I see is a quite extensive and (for City Hall) innovative way of gauging opinions about Larco’s plans. No committee or council has pronounced on the issue yet.

    I fully agree with Heritage Ottawa’s comments, by the way, and have said so in my own words to staff:

    “The Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of historic places in Canada (2nd ed., 2010) state that new additions to an historic place should be (1) visually compatible with, (2) subordinate to, and (3) distinguishable from the historic place.

    From certain angles, the new design meets these criteria but from others it does not. The key culprit is that it is not sufficiently subordinate to the current Chateau. This is especially evident in the view from Major Hill Park.

    In my opinion, the idea of a glass addition meets (1) and (3). It should be scaled down in order to allow, from any angle, the Chateau to remain dominant.”

    More could be said but a citizen has only so much time.

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    #746586 Reply

    Ken Gray
    Keymaster

    EajD:

    I don’t think I’m being rash at all … now that I’ve had time to think about it.

    Our older neighbourhoods are being destroyed by infill and high rises. Les Soeurs de la Visitation convent was not even designated heritage when it was sold. City officials did that after the fact.

    And the last time I took a peek at the Convent, it had wooden supports holding up a wall. And strangely enough, Ashcroft is saying that re-using the Convent is proving more difficult that they thought. Right. (BTW a good re-use would be some kind of cinema … the area needs that).

    I’m just echoing the sentiments of a former councillor who has seen it all. I would defer to her anytime.

    cheers

    kgray

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    #746976 Reply

    EajD

    Ken, being a weekly consumer I see your reply only now.
    If you’re talking about the record of the City of Ottawa in protecting our built (& natural!) heritage, it’s spotty alright, to put it politely. But your comment was on the Chateau Laurier addition, and on that the City (staff and elected officials) is a way from being asked to render a judgement. As I said, in a realitively innovative way, the City is probing the views of the public.

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    #746978 Reply

    Ken Gray
    Keymaster

    EajD:

    Thank you for this.

    I think you kind of missed the point of my argument.

    And I’m not sure the city is probing the feelings of the community. The community is outraged, as it should be.

    That didn’t require any research from the city.

    You could just stand outside and hear the shouting.

    Of course that could be perceived as subtlety at city hall given the lack of hearing there.

    cheers

    kgray

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