Regarding Stuart Steers's "Building for the Future," in the February 18 issue:
David Tryba's dream of a walkable city means the recovery of something wonderful and tangible. Americans are so inured to the convenience of driving that we've lost the very thing that makes life really wonderful: our feet on a city sidewalk fronting beautiful, human-scaled buildings. In other words, a public realm where we can actually encounter one another. Deep down, most Americans know that cars destroy the very thing we're seeking. The evidence is the alienation, ugliness and anomie that characterize most American communities. None of this was an accident. It was a conscious design choice that can be undone.
A beautiful city enhances the human psyche, makes relationships deeper and sweeter, stirs the soul and fires the imagination. It's a public dream rather than a private fantasy (which is what suburbia is for). Denver owes David Tryba a profound degree of thanks for his noble (and ennobling) efforts.
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Thank you for Stuart Steers's wonderful article on David Tryba, an architect who cares about aesthetics and historic preservation. One of the reasons I continue to live in Denver is to enjoy the downtown area. I've grown to prefer urban living and the ability it brings to walk around and take in the ambience and activities. It's especially impressive to watch the transformation of the Golden Triangle and Uptown, following LoDo's lead.
My friends who visit me, especially those from cities with higher population numbers than Denver, are amazed by the liveliness of downtown Denver. Not only do they believe that downtown offers many first-rate dining establishments, clubs and cultural attractions, but they also remark at all the people who are always walking about and enjoying the scene.
I sincerely hope that Denver's civic leaders will work to keep the momentum going as we build a world-class city that is exciting, livable and aesthetically appealing. The key to success, I believe, is to continue to have more people living in the urban areas.
David Owen Tryba's dream of a great city is based on idealism, the result of failure to consider reality.
The urban flight to the suburbs was not created by the automobile, as many assume. The automobile made it possible to realize the real dream of an affordable home with space around it rather than urban housing spaced a few feet apart with small yards and little space for kids to play and to have a garden, if desired. It also provided space between houses for privacy rather than looking out a window and directly into the neighbor's window just a few feet away. (In some suburban areas, that urban housing is being re-created as huge houses are now being built within a few feet of neighboring homes.) The flight to the suburbs was also motivated by more affordable houses than are available in urban development.
As for the "Denver back to the future" dream of pedestrian-oriented facilities, including "valued street life" and other ideals such as living downtown, it will remain a dream until some problems are resolved. First, violence on the streets in downtown Denver and elsewhere precludes families strolling along to partake of the envisioned amenities. Second, housing costs downtown have escalated to unaffordable levels for a family that can find less costly housing in the suburbs.
Tryba wants to "create a suburban space where it will be possible to function without a car." He envisions retail stores with residential space overhead for employees. Why assume that employees of a retail store will always stay in that job? What if they change jobs for better pay or whatever? Move every time? Dream on! He notes that Douglas County is the fastest-growing area but appears puzzled that Douglas County does not have a major-league ballpark, a hockey team or a performing arts center. Perhaps it has never occurred to him that not all people share his concept regarding the "quality of life" and that people cannot always go out to lunch every day or afford to do so.
I thought the article concerning the changing face of Denver was great. I think that urban renewal is the only way to go, and the sooner the better. I'm glad someone is paying attention to the way Denver is changing.
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I believe the statement that Tryba's crowning glory in architectural design is Regis Jesuit High School actually works to defame him. Its chapel is slightly reminiscent of those in Europe, but I think it looks more like a striped shoebox. Its interior is actually worse--homely and prefabricated--and lacks the warmth of many other chapels. Lastly, to call it "new" is not correct, as construction was completed nearly nine years ago.