Colorado Classic Architects

Western Art Gallery on the fifth floor of the Denver Central Library

Now that famous New Yorker Steven Holl is no longer involved with designing the courthouse portion of the Justice Center complex (see review, page 44), all the talk is about whether or not the local architectural firm klipp is up to the job. So it's perhaps relevant to look at the architects who did get to design Denver.

Not surprisingly, many of the finest buildings in town were done by firms with offices right here in the Mile High City. That's the topic of Colorado Classic Architects, the handsome and informative exhibit now in the Western Art Gallery on the fifth floor of the Denver Central Library (10 West 14th Avenue Parkway, 720-865-1111).

The show -- made up of plans, drawings, sketchbooks, memorabilia and photos from the library's extensive collection -- zeroes in on the creations of a group of architects whose careers span the past century. Those included represent a range of aesthetic visions, from architects who designed historical-revival-style structures to others who were doctrinaire modernists.

It's a very elegant affair, with many beautiful pieces on the walls and in glass showcases. There are so many great things to look at, it's hard to pick favorites. But some pieces are unforgettable: the very arty nighttime view of H. W. J. Edbrooke's Denver Gas and Electric Company Building; the sublime interior shot of the long-gone Albany Hotel, by Burnham Hoyt; and a meticulous drawing of Eugene Sternberg's 1960s Denver General Hospital (pictured), before its character was lost through insensitive additions.

As an added bonus for architecture buffs, on the first floor, in a room just off the Acoma Plaza entrance, is Michael Graves and the Denver Public Library, which includes the original model that the pioneer of post-modernism used to win the design competition for our library. In addition, there are presentation drawings of the building done before it was built. There's something super-cool in seeing a show about the very place in which you're standing.

Both Colorado Classic Architects and Michael Graves and the Denver Public Library run through December 31 at the Denver Central Library.

 
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