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Clyfford Still Museum Groundbreaking

Two weeks ago, the official groundbreaking ceremony was held on the new Clyfford Still Museum in Denver’s Civic Center district.  The $29 million museum is planned for the southeast corner of W. 13th Avenue and Bannock Street on the same block as the Denver Art Museum’s Frederick Hamilton building. The Clyfford Still Museum’s presence in Denver is not only a major coup for the city, but its location in Civic Center will further enhance that district’s cultural and architectural appeal.

The ceremony on December 14 involved not so much the breaking of ground, but more the breaking of old walls. Located on the museum site were a couple of small buildings that were ceremoniously wrecked while fireworks went off to launch the museum’s construction phase. I was unable to attend the event, but I finally had a chance to swing by the site the other day. The old buildings are totally gone and the site awaits excavation.

The buildings that were demolished are the ones closest to the corner of 13th and Bannock in the bird’s eye photo (left) of the site from Bing maps. On the right is a picture of the site I took a few days ago:

2009-12-29_csm_aerial 2009-12-29_csm_site

For a short video clip of the ceremony, check out this website.

The new 30,000 square foot building will be complete in 2011. Renderings of the new museum structure are available here.  Finally, here’s an informative press release from the museum that discusses the building’s exterior and interior design. Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture is the designer.

Having another new museum in the Civic Center/Golden Triangle area is absolutely exciting. But our museum-packed cultural district is still surrounded by ugly surface parking lots that have defied development for several decades, despite their artsy neighbors. As I’ve explained before in a previous post, part of the problem with the ubiquitous parking lots around there is that most of the lots are actually comprised of numerous small parcels owned by different property owners, which makes land assemblage in the area virtually impossible. I’ve heard reports that there is a mid-rise apartment project being planned for around 12th and Cherokee, which is good news, but really… when are we going to do something to break the parking lot log-jam in the Golden Triangle? Something to think about while we celebrate the start of construction for yet another new museum in Downtown Denver.

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5 Comments

  1. Ryan says:

    Glad there’s a new museum coming to the neighborhood, but that building is ugly as sin!

  2. Russ says:

    I echo Ryan’s sentiments. Oy vey!

  3. BruceQ says:

    I disagree, I think I like it. It will depend a lot on the landscaping and lighting, but I think it will work especially well next door to the wildly non-square Hamilton building, and will complement the other museums in the area as well.

  4. MarkB says:

    This is already sounding like a re-run of the discussion from way back when the initial renderings and designs were released. Given that Still was a Modernist, I think the design is perfectly apt, and a great counterpoint to that spiky thing next door. It also vaguely echoes the design of the original DAM building, the one-story structure right on the corner that houses Palettes restaurant. The rendering of the Still gallery interior is particularly compelling.

    As to Ken’s point about parking lots–while assembling large tracts is “preventing” larger projects, what about the notion that a neighborhood is more interesting when the projects are smaller, giving the whole a more fine grain? If they can’t be assembled, I’d like to see the city encourage the individual landowners to develop the properties on their own. They’d probably be harder to get financing for, but on the other hand, smaller projects cost less.

  5. Stosh says:

    This design looks dated but the contrast between the buildings will hopefully make sense. It does not beg for attention and I like that fact. Are there any plans to continue the narrowing of city streests? I am in favor of one ways but adding parking on each side would slow traffic and be more pedestrain friendly in areas such as this. Crossing 13th, 14th, 6th, 8th etc is just dangerous and we need the additional parking.