Ryan and I recently had the opportunity to tour the inside of the new History Colorado Center. Our sincere appreciation to the good folks at Trammell Crow, Tryba Architects, Hensel Phelps Construction, and History Colorado for organizing and joining us on the tour. Ryan’s last update on this project was in May, so much progress has been made since then. In fact, the building will be turned over very soon to the State, although it won’t be until Spring 2012 before the museum opens to the public because all the exhibits, dioramas, etc. have to be built. Ryan posted his observations and photos from the tour in yesterday’s Update #3. Here are mine.

The construction barriers are down, new sidewalks and streetscaping are in place, landscaping has been planted, and the finishing touches are being applied. The main entrance on Broadway is impressive and welcoming. Wide stairs lead up to the front doors, creating a seamless transition from sidewalk to lobby. Zipping past the building in a car at 30 miles an hour, the building’s exterior can read as just plain beige. But inspecting the building up close for the first time, I was pleased at the warmth and the subtle variations of color and texture that meander throughout the beautiful limestone facade.


In Ryan’s Part 1, he included a photo of the lobby and its wood ceiling. The wood used there is beetle-kill pine, an appropriate material to use in a building dedicated to Colorado’s history, and a good local material to use in a building aiming for LEED-Gold certification. The floor of the lobby features a large COLORADO inlaid the terrazzo floor, which itself is rich and warm in color. The almost-golden hue of the interior finishes extends into the stairs as well, with Colorado sandstone walls.


The terrazzo floor continues into the grand atrium where, in the voluminous space above, a cool color palette and a more modernist feel prevails. The four-story glass wall facing 12th Avenue, and skylights above, flood the space in light. The building’s secondary entrance, reserved for large groups like school field trips, leads directly into the grand atrium from 12th Avenue, where a bus drop-off zone is located.


As Ryan mentioned, the top floor facing Broadway features a handsome function space, available for rent. Here, dark bamboo flooring contrasts nicely with the bright light coming in from the west-facing windows. A covered terrace extends this space outdoors, with sweeping views of the mountains and downtown skyline.


Overall, this is a fantastic building and I’m quite impressed. It features many beautiful (and durable) natural materials throughout, and manages to make its interior spaces feel spacious and intimate, modern and warm, at the same time. Congratulations to Tryba Architects for a job well done, and to Hensel Phelps and Trammell Crow for getting the building built on-time and on-budget. I know History Colorado (formerly the Colorado Historical Society) is eager to move into their new home and get it ready for a series of exhibit grand openings over the next year or two.

DenverInfill will be back to History Colorado Center later this year after the huge map of Colorado is installed on the atrium floor!

Finally, I’ll leave you with a time-lapse video, provided by History Colorado, of the building’s construction: