Skyline Park, which runs along Arapahoe Street between 15th and 18th streets, was once a world-class example of modernist landscape design. It was created in 1970 by Lawrence Halprin and featured a multi-level topography created with cast-in-place concrete planters, berms and fountains. Now it's a ho-hum kind of place, as seen above.
The city entertained a number of bad ideas about what to do to Skyline, and in 2002, Thomas Balsley's neo-modernist redesign with expressionist pavilions was chosen. As it turned out, there wasn't enough money to complete Balsley's park, something I think he deserved, since he should never have agreed to conspire with those bent on destroying the Halprin.
Here's the funny part about Skyline Park: Its destruction and replacement involves some of the very same people who are right now fiddling with the Civic Center (see "Hit Parade" ). James Mejia, for instance, was the head of Denver Parks and Recreation when he oversaw the destruction of Halprin's masterpiece, and now he's project director for the construction of the Justice Center and a member of the Civic Center Conservancy. Or how about Dennis Humphries? He was involved on many levels with the Justice Center process and is also a member of the Civic Center Conservancy. And get this: Last week he unveiled his design for restrooms at the new Skyline!
The Humphries restrooms will be the biggest architectural element in the park aside from the D&F Tower, so not only will Skyline no longer be a Halprin, it's never going to be a Balsley, either. What a waste. Denver could have still had the Halprin and have hired Balsley to design some other park in town, but instead, those civic soothsayers who always run the show made sure we have neither.
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