Well Done

The new Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center expansion gives plenty of reasons to applaud.

The connection between the Meem original and the Tryba addition is conceived as a continuation of the El Pomar Corridor, and whereas in the old building it falls away from the lobby, in the new part it rises up and away, again responding to the hillside location. The floors are done in terrazzo, as in the original, but the designs are distinct from one another. The new part of the El Pomar Corridor is light-filled, being partly illuminated by skylights and by a two-story glass-curtain wall that provides views of the interior courtyard garden and the exterior of Meem's garden gallery.

The courtyard garden is one of the only disappointments in the new wing. It is now smaller than it used to be and has lost its stately old spruce trees and brick staircase in a concession to commercialism: It's going to be rented out for weddings and other events, and I guess the trees and steps were in the way.

The scale of the new wing is very different, and yet it has the feeling of Meem's building. This was achieved partly through the inspired detailing created by the Tryba team, such as the blank friezes over some of the doors, the incised lines that run along the bottom of the walls, the black granite sills and aluminum fins on the window walls, and other parts of the fenestration.

The John Gaw Meem Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center with the David Owen Tryba addition.
The John Gaw Meem Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center with the David Owen Tryba addition.

Location Info


Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center

30 W. Dale St.
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Category: Art Galleries

Region: Southern Colorado


August 2 through 5, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale Street, Colorado Springs, 1-719-634-5581, www.csfac.org.

For a complete slide show of the exhibit, click here.

One of the reasons the addition was built was to provide proper exhibition spaces for both the CSFAC's impressive permanent collection and for traveling exhibits. And on both scores, it brilliantly succeeds. While curators at Daniel Libeskind's Frederic C. Hamilton Building, at the Denver Art Museum, will need a decade to figure out how to use the outlandish facilities, those who wish to display art in the Tryba-designed Fine Arts Center wing can do so easily on their initial encounter. On the first floor are a set of galleries for the center's Taylor Museum, which owns treasures in the field of Native art, Hispanic art and American art. During the opening, this section will also display the marvelous Western art collected by the late Dusty Loo and his wife, Kathy, which is a promised gift to the CSFAC. Upstairs is another set of galleries, including an enormous double-height room where the Frederick R. Weisman Foundation show of contemporary art will open this weekend.

The Fine Arts Center's new wing is stunning, and architect David Owen Tryba has outdone himself, proving to everyone that he is among the best architects working in the region today. Not only that, but with this project, his oeuvre has entered the annals of the history of architecture in the West. His intelligent, sensitive and subtle creation is that good — it really is. And believe me, I'd be the first to point it out if it wasn't.

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