Canada

Bennett: Proposed addition to Château Laurier still doesn’t meet the standard

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First, the east pavilion on the Mackenzie Avenue side of the château projects beyond the adjacent section of the existing landmark hotel, thereby completely obstructing views of a significant section of the historic château as one proceeds south along Mackenzie Avenue toward the hotel. This clearly contravenes the requirement in the S&G that a new addition be subordinate to the historic place, and that it not obscure character-defining forms or spatial configurations.

Second, the irregular, offset pattern of solids and voids on the façades of both proposed pavilions is completely at odds with the regular, vertical alignment of windows of the national historic site. The overall impression created by this asymmetry is of a Rubik’s cube where nothing aligns vertically (unlike the existing Château Laurier).

The stark and jarring contrast between the regular pattern of solids and voids of the national historic site, and the irregular, offset pattern in the proposed addition clearly violates the requirement to avoid “pointed contrast” expressed in Standard 11 of the S&G.  If this is not pointed contrast, it is difficult to imagine what pointed contrast might actually be.

The design of the façades in Version Six is so incompatible, and so problematic overall, that correcting the problem of misalignment simply creates another problem and another incompatibility.  The pronounced arrhythmia of the façades was completely unnecessary to achieve an acceptable level of distinguishability between the historic landmark and the addition. And to anticipate a possible rejoinder that this irregular, dissonant pattern evokes the asymmetry of the historic château: such a rejoinder would reduce this attribute of asymmetry to parody, if not absurdity.

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