Best new building (2000)

The Daniel L. Ritchie Center

Call it monstrous or magnificent, bombastic or beautiful. That the spanking-new Daniel L. Ritchie Center for Sports and Wellness at the University of Denver could elicit such a wide range of responses suggests the aesthetic power of the $70 million athletic facility. Designed by Denver architect Cabell Childress, with technical support from the Davis Partnership, the center opened last fall, but some finishing touches -- like a gigantic ceramic tile mural by Maynard Tishler -- are still being applied. The focal point of the whole thing is its impressive and overscaled gothic tower, which is surrounded by a dizzying array of rectilinear wings. But there's also the inspired and mind-boggling abundance of expensive materials, like the two-tone sandstone and limestone on some of the exterior walls, the copper sheeting around the rest, or the gold leaf that has been generously applied to the tower's conical roof. More than anything else, it was Childress's ambitious vision and DU's apparently very deep pockets that made the postmodern Ritchie Center the best of the many buildings that rose from the ground in Denver last year.

Readers' choice: The Pepsi Center

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