DIA hosts Design by Colorado, so why not have a Colorado architect design airport expansion?

Now that the scaffolding that masked Mountain Mirage is gone, and the defective fountain that was supposed to create a silhouette of the Rockies but instead leaked down into the trains has been removed and replaced by open space, you can see the bones of the Jeppeson Terminal at Denver International Airport. And it's looking good.

So, of course, the city is proceeding with its plans to mess it up: moving security checks to the exterior and turning the original terminal into what would essentially be a shopping mall for the puny percentage of travelers who'd rather buy souvenirs made in China then get out to the gate to wait for their plane. Meanwhile, a new waiting area for non-travelers would be built by a light-rail station and a second, South Terminal constructed that blocks the view of the original.

Even though starchitect Santiago Calatrava pulled out of the deal last week.

DIA paid close to $13 million to Calatrava's firm for design work on the expansion. Meanwhile, a new exhibit at DIA -- Design by Colorado, co-sponsored by DIA's Art and Culture Program, Arts & Venues Denver's Create Denver Initiative, and Colorado Creative Industries (formerly the Colorado Council on the Arts) -- shows just how talented this state's artists and designers are, with dozens of diverse creations on display.

"Creative enterprises account for 6.4 percent of the total businesses in Denver, employing over 19,000 creative workers," said Mayor Michael Hancock in announcing the show, which runs from now through February. "This sector is not only vital to our economy, but also contributes to our culture and character as the creative capital of the Rocky Mountain West. Where better to showcase Denver's talented creative sector to millions of tourists, business travelers and residents than at DIA. the gateway to the region?"

Where else indeed? And maybe Denver could even hire one of those talented members from its own creative sector to assess the status of the DIA expansion plan, determining what's really needed -- and whether the original terminal by Denver architect Curt Fentress, whose tent roof has become an iconic symbol of Denver, should be celebrated rather than obscured.

The time is right: After all, this new exhibit is kicking off the 2012 Year of Design at DIA.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Michael Hancock wants to hog-tie the National Western Stock Show in Denver."

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