The Center Will Not Hold

Daniel Libeskind is finally coming to town on August 30 to reveal his concept for the Civic Center. That's more than two months after his June 15 presentation was cancelled, giving critics plenty of time to wonder whether the rumored 300-foot tower and giant pond would ever materialize. Even though the city has final approval over any changes to the park, which must adhere to the "Civic Center Park Master Plan" that was completed in October 2005, Libeskind's plan is supposed to be the Civic Center Conservancy's shining moment, when it will unveil to the world how it hopes to clean up the joint. And it paid Libeskind $80,000 for the privilege of his design.

Libeskind has enjoyed generally good will here since he started designing the Denver Art Museum's almost-completed Frederic C. Hamilton Building back in 2000, but the Civic Center is more like the World Trade Center site -- both commissions are absolute quagmires of people and politics. Short of Colfax and the Broncos, there's nothing in this town that people are as passionate about as the Civic Center. Just check out Michael Paglia's "Civic Circus" in this week's issue of Westword, in which the gloves come off when he talks about the park and the public process. Or my June 15 story describing a 24-hour cycle in the Civic Center, when the scariest sight was the giant cockroach climbing out of the Greek Amphitheater.

And passions will continue to run high on August 30, when Libeskind finally delivers his public presentation at the Colorado Convention Center, room 201/203, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. After that, the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation will host a series of "Civic Center Sessions" and also post an online survey on its website. The city will take comments from the public through the end of the year, then start looking at how to move forward with any recommendations in early 2007.

In the meantime, let the art attacks continue. -- Amy Haimerl

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun