There's nothing like wandering through a building that's still under construction, with its three-dimensional skeleton of wood, plumbing and electrical conduits and smell of new lumber. This month, the Denver Foundation for Architecture offers a chance to experience what only contractors and construction workers usually see, in a special tour program called Three Thursdays -- What's Behind the Façade.
The tour begins on September 7 at the new Volunteers of America building in Curtis Park. On the 14th, it shifts to the campus of the National Cable Television Center and Museum -- the first such center of its kind in the United States -- at the University of Denver, which is in the midst of a massive building boom. The final tour, on the 28th, is of the hulking St. John's Cathedral in Capitol Hill. The church's monumental front stairs are being reconstructed, and other parts of the building are being expanded, renovated or restored.
Project architects, engineers and contractors will be on hand to conduct the tours. Architect John Rogers, president of the DFA, says they will focus on "the impact of buildings on the quality of life in the community."
The DFA, a ten-year-old nonprofit offshoot of the American Institute of Architects, mostly conducts walking tours throughout downtown, including the Civic Center and LoDo. The upcoming hard-hat tours are just a one-time deal, says boardmember ReJean Peeples. She doesn't expect a repeat "unless it is overwhelmingly well-received."
Because of safety issues, only fifty people will be allowed on each tour, so register in advance.