Since opening its doors in 2006, the Frederic C. Hamilton Building has become one of downtown Denver’s most recognizable landmarks, drawing thousands of visitors. The project, designed by Studio Daniel Libeskind and Davis Partnership, consists of a 146,000ft² addition to the existing Denver Art Museum, built originally in 1971, almost doubling its size.
Consisting of a separate building this major expansion tied to the existing museum through a 100ft long enclosed walkway. It hosts the main entrance to the museum complex, as well as a collection of Modern and contemporary art, a collection of Oceanic art and African Art, a theatre and a rooftop sculpture garden with views over the scenic Rocky Mountain range.
Photograph © BitterBredt
The building stands out of its environment through a radically dynamic composition of sharp angular forms and slated planar walls and well-pronounced cantilevered masses that project themselves in all directions. It was inspired, according to the architect, by the vitality and growth of the city of Denver.
The design was optimized through a close collaboration between the architects, the museum’s director and curator. The visitors cannot help but experience the interplay between the the displayed art and the surrounding architecture.
As he talks about the project, we discover the richness of the ideas behind his concepts:
"The amazing vitality and growth of Denver-- from its foundation to the present, inspires the form of the new museum. Coupled with the magnificent topography with its breathtaking views of the sky and the Rocky Mountains, the dialogue between the boldness of construction and the romanticism of the landscape creates a unique place in the world. The bold and forward looking engagement of the public in forging its own cultural, urban and spirited destiny is something that would strike anyone upon touching the soil of Colorado.
"One of the challenges of building the Denver Art Museum was to work closely and respond to the extraordinary range of transformations in light, coloration, atmospheric effects, temperature and weather conditions unique to this City. I insisted these be integrated not only functionally and physically, but culturally and experientially for the benefit of the visitors' experience.
"The new building is not based on an idea of style or the rehashing of ready made ideas or external shape because its architecture does not separate the inside from the outside or provide a pretty facade behind which a typical experience exists; rather this architecture has an organic connection to the public at large and to those aspects of experience that are also intellectual, emotional, and sensual. The integration of these dimensions for the enjoyment and edification of the public is achieved in a building that respects the handcrafted nature of architecture and its immediate communication from the hand, to the eye, to the mind. After all, the language of architecture beyond words themselves is the laughter of light, proportion and materiality."
The project had a positive impact on the neighboring area. The whole district has been reinvigorated with new arts galleries, restaurants and housing developments.
Project Description and Credits:
Client: The Denver Art Museum; City of Denver
Building Details: Atrium, permanent galleries, special exhibition galleries, kitchen, café, 300 seat auditorium, art storage and conservation, crating and loading, bridge connection to Ponti museum.
Contractor: M.A Mortensen Co. (Colorado) . Structural Engineer: Arup (Los Angeles) . Structural Connection Design: Structural Consultants, Inc. . Civil Engineers: JF Sato and Associates . Mechanical Air: Arup-Los Angeles . Mechanical/Electrical: MKK Engineers and Arup (Los Angeles) . Structural Engineers: ARUP (Los Angeles) . Structural Connection Design: Structural Consultants, Inc. . Civil Engineers: JF Sato and Associates
Interior Designers: Studio Daniel Libeskind with Davis Partnership
Landscape Architects: Studio Daniel Libeskind with Davis Partnership
Lighting Consultant: George Sexton and Associates
Theater Consultant: Auerbach and Pollack Friedlander
Acoustical Consultant: ARUP (Los Aangeles)
Exterior Façade Consultant: Gordon H Smith, ARUP, BCE;
Lobby Consultant: LORD Cultural Resources
Wind Tunnel Testing: CPP
Traffic: Felsburg Holt & Ullevig
Vertical Transportation: HKA Elevator Consulting