After running with the idea of building a new and mostly subterranean Colorado History Museum within Civic Center for months (as discussed here in “Going Under?”) the board of the Colorado Historical Society, in a rare moment of clarity, formally rejected the idea at its January 31 meeting.
The vote was almost unanimous, with only “Dr. Colorado,” Tom Noel (pictured), dissenting and in that way opting to go down with the ship, so to speak. But Noel wasn’t the only person who got to embarrass himself while advocating for the unpopular idea. He was joined in his bad call by the likes of Steve Turner, president of Historic Denver, a preservation group that folded even before a decision of where to put the museum was made. Then there was David Owen Tryba, the architect working for CHS who pushed the idea -- even though his firm will be designing the new museum no matter where it’s ultimately erected.
On February 12, the CHS announced where that will most likely be: The latest proposed site is a surface parking lot just south of the ING tower on 13th Avenue. The selected property is directly across Broadway from the Museum Residences section of the Denver Art Museum’s Hamilton complex, and less than a block from its current home.
There can be no objections by preservation-minded citizens to this particular pick -- ironically one of the many sites considered by the CHS at the start -- because it can only be improved by the addition of a museum and not degraded by it, the way the Civic Center would have been.
It’s amazing how long it takes some in the public sector to realize how much easier it is to get something built when controversy is side-stepped as it was here, if only belatedly.—Michael Paglia
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