As reported in The ChronicleHerald, Ottawa architect and heritage consultant Barry Padolsky has written an open letter to Justin Trudeau, asking the prime minister to step in to convince hotel owner Larco Investment to go back to the drawing board for a rethinking of a controversial addition to the historic Château Laurier.
In the letter, Padolsky calls the expansion an “imminent act of vandalism in the heart of out capital.” He reiterates many of the augments that have been made before: the addition will affect the picturesque heritage values of the Château, which is a national historic site; it “impulsively disregards” national design standards that require new architectural additions to be compatible with heritage landmarks and it will intrude on views of the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
But Padolsky also added two photographs to press his point — one a current view of the hotel from Major’s Hill Park, and another of what the same view would look with the proposed expansion. The second image was created by the team in his office, using the architectural drawings and dimensions released to the city.
“A quick glance at the two images attached to this letter should suffice to illustrate the ‘before and after’ makeover of this romantic view from Major’s Hill Park, identified as Key View ‘A’ by the NCC,” he wrote in his letter to Trudeau.
The “after” view is not exaggerated, Padolsky added in an interview on Sunday. The proposed seven-storey hotel addition is 97 metres long, almost the length of a football field. “This is what you would see from that location.”
Padolsky said he has only sent a letter to a prime minister twice — once about the National Portrait Galley (“It didn’t do any good,” he recalled) and another in September 2014, when he urged then-prime minister Stephen Harper to find a “more appropriate” location for the Victims of Communism memorial, which had then been slated to be built next to the Supreme Court of Canada. The plan was changed and site about 500 metres to the west in the Garden of the Province and Territories was approved, but only after Harper left office.
“I have no illusions prime ministers will answer to letters from constituents, but I thought it was worth a try,” said Padolsky, who is a member of the city’s built-heritage sub-committee, a nine-member panel of heritage and architecture experts which earlier this month voted overwhelmingly to send a message to city council’s planning committee, urging the members to reject the design.
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