Architecture

Will the Kirkland Museum Be the Best New Building of 2017?

The Best of Denver 2016 just hit the streets, but we already have a contender for the Best New Building in 2017...

The Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art, one of the city’s most beloved art institutions, will be closing its Capitol Hill home at 1311 Pearl Street on May 1 and will reopen in the spring of 2017 in a new facility that's now being constructed at West 12th Avenue and Bannock Street. Hugh Grant, the director of the Kirkland, will use the intervening months to not only oversee the packing of all the objects in the collection, but also to orchestrate the move, in one piece, of the red-brick, barrel-vaulted Kirkland Studio built in 1910 that will ultimately be sited north of the new structure. (In the meantime, the museum's store is having a close-out sale; find more info here.)

The idea to move the building came from Grant’s wife, Merle Chambers, whose parents had moved their own house when she was a child, so she knew it could be done. The new Kirkland, designed by the firm of Olson Kundig, will be a sleek, neo-modernist building with a central pavilion flanked by horizontally-oriented wings.

The high style of the new Kirkland is appropriate to its high profile site with its design pointedly related to that of the nearby Clyfford Still Museum. Lead designer Jim Olson has dubbed that central pavilion “the jewel box,” and that works metaphorically and actually considering what will be kept inside.


But first, we'll get to see the outside of that building — which has the potential to be the best. Here's to 2017.
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Michael Paglia is an art historian and writer whose columns have appeared in Westword since 1995; his essays on the visual arts have also been published in national periodicals including Art News, Architecture, Art Ltd., Modernism, Art & Auction and Sculpture Magazine. He taught art history at the University of Colorado Denver.
Contact: Michael Paglia