4
I.M. Pei & Partners designed the 16th Street Mall's signature rattlesnake-patterned pavers.
I.M. Pei & Partners designed the 16th Street Mall's signature rattlesnake-patterned pavers.
HistoricDenver.org

Reader: Denver Is One of the Worst Cities for Architects

Legendary master architect I.M. Pei passed away this past week, at the age of 102. Over his long career, he created some of the world's most iconic modern structures, including the Louvre Pyramid.

Pei had a handful of important projects in Denver, too, but only one, the National Center for Atmospheric Research complex just south of Boulder, remains intact. Both the circa 1960 Zeckendorf Plaza and Mile High Center were trashed by renovation projects, and the 16th Street Mall, which I.M. Pei & Partners (now Pei Cobb Freed and Partners) was hired to design in 1978, could soon be remodeled; it was added to Colorado's Endangered Places a decade ago.

Readers still mourn the loss of Zeckendorf, a popular gathering spot downtown that included a skating rink on the plaza in the winter as well as a hyperbolic paraboloid that predated the Louvre's version.

Says Chamunda:

 I was so sad when they demolished the trapezoid.

Replies Drew: 

Disgusting. Despite the fact that I’m old AF, I’m not quite old enough to remember the Zeckendorf Plaza and May D&F building as they were during the days when LoDo was a wasteland and Fashion Bar and Neusteters were the main downtown retailers.

As far as I’m concerned, Mayor Webb should be ashamed for letting the plaza be demolished.

Adds Greg: 

I worked for Historic Denver when they were trying to save this. Even though it had its problems, it was part of what made Denver unique. So we were tickled to find out the reason they had such a hard time dismantling it was because there were underground anchors that were not included in the original blueprints.

  Suggests Naomi: 

Clearly people who didn't grow up here don't care about this city's history. It's destroyed on a daily basis to make room for all of this ugly "luxury" housing we have going on.

Responds Stephen: 

Look at a picture of downtown Denver circa 1974, then ask what generation didn’t give shit about Denver’s history. Y’all tore down all of downtown, called it “urban renewal,” then all moved out to the fucking suburbs so your kids didn’t have to go to integrated schools, and let this city rot for forty years.

We’re finally cleaning up your mistake. 

And Jared issues this challenge: 

Denver is one of the worst cities in the world for architects and city planners, change my mind.

Keep reading for more on I.M. Pei's work in Denver.

Reader: Denver Is One of the Worst Cities for Architects
Zeckendorf Plaza

"The Zeckendorf Follies"

Reader: Denver Is One of the Worst Cities for Architects
Courtesy of Roach Photos

"How Denver Trashed Legendary Architect I.M. Pei's Legacy"

Reader: Denver Is One of the Worst Cities for Architects
denvergov.org

"Inside the Plan to Update the 16th Street Mall — and Remove the Median"

The comments period on the city's 16th Street Mall Improvements Environmental Assessment closed May 14, two days before Pei's death. Although no one from the city or the Downtown Denver Partnership, which supervises the mall, weighed in on the architect's passing, NCAR did.

“We’re mourning and saluting I.M. Pei,” staff at NCAR tweeted. “He designed the NCAR Mesa Lab — an amazing place to come to work every day. The world will miss your brilliance and your smile.”

You can visit the Mesa Lab and see Pei's work for yourself. The complex at 1850 Table Mesa Drive in Boulder is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, 10 to 4 p.m. on weekends. Find out more at 303-497-1000 or on the NCAR visitor website.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >