Hockey Pucks, Foam, Canopies: Inside the New Civic Center Station

The new Civic Center Station is slated to open in December.
The new Civic Center Station is slated to open in December. Ana Campbell
If Denver had an official fabric, it would be polytetrafluoroethylene.

PTFE for short, the Teflon-coated woven fiberglass covers institutions in town, from Union Station's train terminals to Denver International Airport. And soon it will cover another iconic spot: the Regional Transportation District's Civic Center Station.

As drivers snarled in its construction traffic know all too well, the last stop for the 16th Street Mall's free MallRide has been closed the last fifteen months for renovations. It will reopen in mid- to late December with a brand-new look — and what project architects tout as some unique traits.

Let's start with the foam: 180,000 cubic feet of "geofoam" — aka cooler material — will replace dirt as structural fill. "It's the largest geofoam project in downtown Denver," says Dave Espinosa, senior project manager for Mortenson Construction, the project's general contractor. Geofoam is commonly used in road projects, such as embankments, and doesn't take on water, Espinosa says. And hauling the stuff is less costly than moving dirt.

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The new station won't be as "dingy" as the old one, project managers say.
Ana Campbell
Then there are the 2,300 black rubber discs that contractors involved with the project call hockey pucks. SEH, the project's architect, developed a noise- and vibration-cancellation system that utilizes the discs so that buses coming in and out of the station won't disturb the high-rise next door. The old station's driving surface used metal springs, which project developers discovered were falling apart. The black discs won't rust or bottom out, they say.

The new station includes many of the same features as the old station, including the MallRide pickup circle. But the new station covers about 9,000 feet, down from 18,000. The smaller space gets rid of a lot of the old station's "dead space" and will allow for tighter security, Espinosa says; buses leaving the station will have better views, making the area safer for pedestrians. And, he adds, the station itself has storefront-type windows to allow for more light, eliminating the "dingy" feel of the old station.
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Ana Campbell has been Westword's managing editor since 2016. She has worked at magazines and newspapers around the country, picking up a few awards along the way for her writing and editing. She grew up in south Texas.
Contact: Ana Campbell