Sunday, December 24, 2006

A New Civic Center

Read Kyle McMillan's article in the Sunday Post, A New Civic Center

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Interview with Dennis Humphries, Vice president of Civic Center Conservancy

Read the entire article published in the Sunday Denver Post. It is in the links column on the right under Denver Post.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

New Ideas for Civic Center- post your comments

More Ideas: A presentation on additional thoughts about the evolution of Civic Center. We will continue to add visuals as we receive them. See the Denver Post article, Locals Add Voices to Civic Fix on the Denver Post links section, right column. drawings by William Wenk right, Steve Chuckovich, left
5:30 PM Wednesday December 6, 2006
Chris Frampton, from the board of the Civic Center Conservancy( CCC) introduced the program. He called Civic Center ( CC) " the heart of Denver, the heart of Colorado, the heart of the West". The Civic Center Conservancy contacted Daniel Libeskind, who he described as one the “ four greatest thinkers on the built environment”.

He believes that the CCC brought the greatest amount of attention to Civic Center beginning with the Aug. 30th presentation of Daniel Libeskind’s ideas to 2500 people at the Colorado Convention Center. Dennis Humphries, CCC board member introduced the 9 presentations on the agenda.

David Tryba, of David Owen Tryba Architects, and a board member of the CCC began.

What Could the Park be? was the question posed by Tryba. He showed slides of the difference between Lincoln Park, the part the state controls, that is in front of the State Capitol. Stressed attention to detail focusing on Dick Farley and Bob Root's design for the gathering place around the Veterans monument. Mentioned lighting, places to sit, trash receptacles. Discussed need for a “ common center”- particularly necessary in the months of the year when the flower gardens are not in bloom. Message the park conveys today is “ Keep moving” due to lack of benches and places to sit. CCC strongly believes in the better use of the McNichols building. "We shouldn’t be afraid of great modern design." He showed examples of locations throughout the world where modern architecture coexists with historic structures. Possibility of doing night lighting. Stressed use of local public art- showed Gladys Fisher sheep at Appellate court( former post office on 18th and Stout).

Yong Cho of Studio Completiva: “What if we can come up with a scheme that unites and clarifies the site?” Needs a simple clear central space. Tried to get at no elaboration but the big idea. Creating a central place and major relationship between CC building and Capitol. Several elipses with major access. strong shapes and forms- a series of ellipses. Shapes have symbolic meaning. His plan stressed connections to surrounding areas- including RTD, library etc. Very formal buildings ( capitol and CC building)- joined by an allee of trees.

Steve Chuckovich Architecture Denver

Formal edge concept. What the opportunites and connections could be?
Importance of the East West axis in all original plans- showed Burnham Hoyt plan. Scale of original elements based on scale of built environment at the time ( mid teens of 20th c) Nature, scale and complexity of city has greatly changed and elements in the park are dwarfed by surrounding skyscrapers. Importance of connections and creating value of the space

Proposed tunneling Colfax. Suggested permitting new buildings along east west access. Lincoln and Broadway- going over the streets with new plaza with parking underneath.

Creating a “front door” in front of CC that would create a diagonal connection with cultural complex. Take into account new uses and what our collective idea of what the history of the city is.

Dave Duclos- THK Associates

CC is the heart of the city. Connectivity- you have to be able to get to the space. Bridge across Broadway and Lincoln. Use steps coming down from the capitol to access park with bridges in style of CC. Stay up high on bridge level with walkway slightly above Veterans memorial. Bridge would have places to sit. Proposed bridge from RTD across Colfax to Lincoln park in front of the state capitol. Another bridge connecting by Newspaper building to CC park. Steps going down into park are like an amphitheatre, with views west. Adds water features where flower beds are now. Create sculpture garden in open space opposite McNichols building.

Dick Farley- Civitas

Mentioned that Noel Copeland and Bob Root did most of the work on the Veterans Memorial.He listed activities: parades start or end there, festivals, political rallies, gardens, civic pride.Should there be more activity? Should that come first or access first? Should we change the “idea” fo the park?

More activity first- stay with beaux arts structure and idea of beauty- value the intrinsic structure.

First: change use of McN building and turn face towards CC not street.- museum, gallery, restaurant.

Create parking under lawns for access and convenience. Create underground passage- like the one in Boulder between CU and the hill.

Page Penk- graduate student at CU School of Design and Planning- Design and Planning create the Ark at CC park- a seed bank of 6000 languages. Inspired by Millenium Park, Chicago. Sink Colfax. Proposes “ Codex Americana” with “Peace is Possible” in 6000 languages. Stones lined up along the central access between CC and capitol. Suggests large fountain in area by stones- suggested playground and community garden.Financing similar to what Christo did with the fences in Central Park. Individuals pay.

Susan Saarinen: Saarinen Landscape Architecture. Protect and renovate exisiting structures,better security, create focus for the park, add amenities and connections. Create 2 destinations- renovate McN and build new building. Visitors prefer intimate spaces to grand spaces- people cluster in shade. Use trees to strengthen accesses. Should we consider a transition to native landscape elements and plants? Park was planned( 99 years ago) with central water feature. Is it appropriate today? Suggested competition to create a symbol for Denver.

Randle Swan- the Cygnet Group. He is a historic preservationist, not an architect.

Architects like to do something very impressive- their signature. Voorhees Memorial- water feature, gardens in bloom, Suggests lighting structures at night. This is the most visited park in Denver- counting festivals. MCN building built in 1907- first piece built in park. Suggests three restaurants, bike and scooter parking area,Third floor could be exhibit space, meeting space. Could this be the museum of the history of Denver?

Suggests corral for mounted patrol. Interactive fountain for kids- like in Boulder and Aspen. New ground covering, more drought resistant, 14 inch high maze. Utilizing Greek Theater for new uses. Create new sculpture for center element. Suggest classically embellished glass conservatory that echoes McN. With storage underneath.Strengthen cross walks. Reinvigorate space, don’t reinvent it.

William Wenk- Wenk Associates.

A great space because of its monumentality but not comfortable- no place to sit, not enough shade. How to introduce human element? Showed Jean Tingley modern sculpture in Beauborg with edge seating coexisting with historic architecture. Notion that different eras can work together comfortably. Issue of traffic calming- not just bridges and tunnels. Create pedestrian streets. Encourage festivals for civic coming together. “The green ribbon”- a trellis that provides shade and services- rest rooms, kiosks- include electricity so can use for festivals.

One of the first questions in the Q&A that followed asked why the CCC & Parks and Rec didn't provide comment forms ( as they do for the Libeskind ideas). CCC apologized saying, " they didn't think of it" and suggested using the Civic Center Friends blog to post comments. We want to hear your response and ideas on these concepts. Civic Center Friends will forward all your comments to the CCC and the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Five Great Ideas for Civic Center

Read Mary Voelz Chandler's interview with urban designer Richard Farley in today's Rocky Mountain News.,2777,DRMN_23958_5192614,00.html

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Response from Kim Bailey- Manager of Parks and Recreation

Civic Center Friends received an email from Angela C. Casias, an administrative analyst at Denver Parks and Recreation. She attached two documents, one a letter from Kim Bailey and one appears to be a posting for us. Both are posted below.

November 30, 2006

Dear Civic Center Friends,

Thank you for broadening the awareness of Civic Center in the community with your blog and bringing your concerns to our attention. On behalf of my City colleagues, I wanted to express our pleasure and thanks for on November 27, 2006 to discuss Civic Center.

Since our meeting, I wanted to re-visit the two points which were highlighted by your organization. First, is the notion of the secret planning process. In this matter, I believe the creative process and developing architectural illustrations and visuals have not always been well understood. When the gift of Daniel Libeskind’s services were offered to the Civic Center Conservancy, it was agreed that the approved 2005 Civic Center Park Master Plan would be the basis for his scope of work and this was a written requirement of his contract with the Conservancy. It has always been and will continue to be my expectation that the park master plan will be the basis for any exploration of design ideas for Civic Center brought forth by any individual, group or agency. The master plan was developed and approved based on extensive public input and most people agree the planning process was conducted openly and thoroughly. Consequently, in my mind the plan represents the fundamental agreement between the city and the community. The Civic Center Conservancy’s goal, along with Parks and Recreation, was to inspire public dialogue about the possibilities for Civic Center. The Conservancy engaged Daniel Libeskind to kick-start this dialogue. His models and realistic images created a perception of “final design” that was not the case. You mentioned this during our meeting and I think we all agree it was an unfortunate outcome of the conceptual presentation. Also Mr. Libeskind was allowed extra time to refine his concepts and recover from an illness prior to public dialog, which also provoked unfounded rumors of secrecy. As part of this process there were no decisions or agreements made with potential donors. Please let me reiterate that there is no money, private or public, committed to fund any improvement based on Libeskind’s plans. And, the Mayor and the Governor were invited for a special preview to welcome Libeskind’s efforts with a gracious acknowledgement of thanks on behalf of the city and the state, no more than that was on anyone’s agenda. Finally, the Mayor has not made any commitments with individuals or groups concerning Civic Center.

The second point I’d like to address is the notion of “the radical design arrived at without public input”. Again, public input began in 2004 when we launched the master plan process and it will continue as long as it is needed to accomplish our collective goals. I am committed to conducting continued, thorough and open public dialog for any improvement plan considered for our park system at every phase of development. Many architects begin the conceptual stages by testing the master plan and the client’s preconceptions to stimulate the creative process, it is the “what if” stage. Libeskind is no exception to this practice and he elaborated on the scope to challenge us to think about many provocative and audacious ideas. There has been tremendous value in the resulting public discussion that these ideas have stimulated in the community. Exploring his ideas allowed us an extraordinary opportunity to reach out to a much larger audience and wider level of involvement than we had during the master planning process. Instead of hundreds of participants in the process, we now have thousands.

The real outcome of this effort is not to determine what is “good” or “bad” about the Libeskind design ideas, but identifying the principles and values that truly resonate with the community. The survey and public meetings we have conducted are helping us embrace the public ideas so we can understand the needs, priorities and next steps better. Everyone’s thoughts and ideas help us to broaden the awareness of the issues and needs in the park, and generate the momentum and energy we need to revitalize the park. When I meet with the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board in January, it will not be to decide a course of action. My intent from all this is to clearly articulate a substantial understanding of the common ground that has been generated by the public in this important dialog.

I applaud your efforts in establishing a new friends group for the park and look forward to collaborating with you in the future.


Kim Bailey,
Denver Parks and Recreation Manager

This portion came in the same e mail but was not signed or in a letter format. We assume it is from Ms.Bailey but it also refers to a decision by the Civic Center Conservancy.

The Civic Center Conservancy retained Studio Daniel Libeskind to test the recently completed Civic Center Master Plan. The results of his work were presented to the public in a meeting originally scheduled in June but cancelled due to health reasons until 30 August 2006.

Daniel Libeskind has completed his assignment for the Conservancy. Although the exact process for proceeding forward with any modifications or changes to the Park has not been defined, the Conservancy would recommend that any future design assignments be selected on a qualifications based/competitive process. Studio Libeskind might be invited to participate in the same manner that any other design firm might be considered.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Civic Center Friends Meets with Mayor's Chief of Staff

Mayor’s Office Meeting Report

Civic Center Friends (CCF) met with City staff Monday (11/27) at the Mayor's Office to discuss public perception concerning Libeskind's design proposals for Civic Center Park. The City was represented by Cole Finegan and Kelly Brough, the Mayor’s outgoing and incoming Chief’s of Staff, and Kim Bailey, Director, and Helen Kuykendall, Civic Center Project Manager, for Denver Parks and Recreation.

Civic Center Friends Presented
CCF presented a petition of concern about the design process for Civic Center Park, with over 250 signatures to date ( We explained that despite verbal statements by City staff denying intentions to pursue the Libeskind designs, the strong perception persisted that board members and funders of the Civic Center Conservancy (CCC) still supported the Libeskind designs, and the Mayor and City staff tacitly supported the Conservancy and its funders, making at least some pieces of Libeskind’s designs seem like a done deal.

We suggested that the perception may have begun when secrecy surrounded development of the Libeskind designs, funded by $75,000 from a supporter of the Denver Art Museum. And that the perception may have grown when the Mayor attended the grand unveiling of the Libeskind designs, which so closely echoed his ultra-contemporary style for the new museum. We also noted that holding meetings for input on such finished drawings from only one designer is not the customary or professional standard for signaling an open public process, particularly for Denver’s most significant and historic public space. Neither Parks’ public meeting format nor its survey forms made it clear that comment was being solicited only on the elements (i.e., a central gathering place, renovation of McNichols’ building, etc.) not on the Libeskind designs themselves. The radical nature of the designs for this traditional space—arrived at without public input—further distracted the public from the purpose of the meetings as stated by Parks and Civic Center Conservancy.

City Staff Responded
Cole Finegan, Chief of Staff, responded fully and openly, assuring us that they knew of no funding for the Libeskind designs but if it existed, the City would never allow anything to be designed without a full and open public process. And that no adjunct group, including the CCC, could go forward without the City’s approval. Staff reiterated statements made at public meetings that the Libeskind designs were merely ‘ideas’ for various elements from the 2005 Civic Center Master Plan and that the drawings were meant to stimulate discussion and public interest in implementing elements of the Master Plan rather than Libeskind’s designs themselves. They assured us that the City had heard the public saying that what was needed first was care for what we have in Civic Center, including restoration of historic structures. City staff and CCF concurred that restoration and new use for the McNichols (Carnegie Library) building was a primary goal.

Civic Center Friends Suggested
CCF agreed that the Libeskind designs had certainly stimulated public interest in Civic Center, and reiterated that having a conservancy for Civic Center was positive. We suggested that clearing up public perception about the City’s intent could best be accomplished by a statement from the Mayor that would receive press coverage, and another from the Dept. of Parks and Recreation that would be posted on the blog of Civic Center Friends. We mentioned that the same invitation had been extended to the Civic Center Conservancy at our meeting with representatives on 11/10.

Civic Center Friends greatly appreciates the time and careful attention given to our concerns by the City, and we look forward to an ongoing process that will generate a variety of ideas and solutions for Civic Center Park in keeping with the spirit and guidelines of the excellent 2005 Master Plan.

Downtown Denver Partnership ask for new process for Civic Center

read the press release from the Downtown Denver Partnership. More information is on web links listed on the right panel.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Get Involved in the Civic Center Design Process

A Master Plan for Civic Center Park was completed in 2005, and Phase I of project planning is now being facilitated by the newly-created, privately-funded, Civic Center Conservancy, in association with the Denver Parks Department. The Conservancy and Denver Parks are hosting public meetings to gain input on preliminary design concepts by architect Daniel Libeskind. This plan was paid for by a private donor to the Civic Center Conservancy. While we applaud the Conservancy for their interest in Civic Center Park, we have concerns about the process and encourage all citizens to participate. We have gathered articles and information here for you to learn about the plan. Here are things you can do to get involved in the process and make your voice heard:

  • Sign the on line petition to the Mayor and include your
  • Contact the Parks and Recreation advisory board member from your City Council District and let them know your thoughts. You can link to their email addresses here:
  • Contact Parks and Recreation Manager Kim Bailey at 720 913-0741 or the communications director Tiffiany Moehring, with your thoughts.
  • See the model on the 5th floor of the Denver Public Library, Western History Collection and Complete the Parks and Rec survey Use this handy online form to tell the Denver Parks and Recreation Department how you feel about the proposal.
  • Save these dates Attend upcoming public meetings to offer input on both the design and process- see the press release below from Parks and Rec for more details & addresses:
December 6 5:30 -7:30 PM The Civic Center Conservancy will display new ideas and plans by local designers at the Colorado History Museum. The event is free and open to the public. Rocky Mountain News art critic Mary Voelz Chandler originally contacted local architects and landscape architects and published their conceptual ideas in the News last summer. Participating presenters include:

Yong Cho, Studio Completiva

Steve Chucovich, ArchitectureDenver

Dave Duclos, THK Associates

Richard Farley, Civitas

Susan Saarinen, Saarinen Landscape Architecture

Randle Swan, The Cignet Group

William Wenk, Wenk Associates

Dennis Humphries, AIA, Vice president of Civic Center Conservancy will facilitate.

for further information contact the Conservancy at 303 312-4286.

January 11, 2007 5:30 PM (location to be announced -check here later)
Common Grounds A public meeting with Historic Denver and the Civic Center Conservancy to discuss ideas for Civic Center and public response.

January 11 (TBA), Parks & Recreation Advisory Board

Denver’s classical Civic Center Historic District is certainly in need of restoration and tasteful enhancements. Now is the time to actively participate in a process that will bring that about.

Can It Happen in Denver?

Supporters of the new vision for Civic Center Park frequently cite the amazing transformation of Bryant Park in NYC. How it was a factor in the neutering of the NYC Landmark Commission is recounted in this article by Tom Wolfe in the Sunday NY Times.

The (Naked) City and the Undead

Friday, November 24, 2006

How Daniel Libeskind describes Denver

Today's NY Times quotes Mr. Libeskind in the article, Art in Storage and Money to Burn, Museums Are Stretching the Walls
"As the architect Daiel Libeskind said recently about his expansion of the Denver Art Museum, a $110 million project, 'They have an ambition to not just be a cow town in the Rockies'.

Monday, November 20, 2006

report on Carolyn Etter's presentation to City Club

Carolyn Etter, former co-manager of Denver Parks and Recreation, was the featured speaker at City Club on Nov. 14. Her presentation reflected her recent publication (with former Parks co-manager, Don Etter) titled, City of Parks: The Preservation of Denver’s Park and Parkway System. Her discussion included historic and contemporary photos, a brief history of the park system, and a bibliography on Denver’s parks from the 30-page color publication. In addition, Etter included images of a map of Civic Center overlaid with elements in the Libeskind proposal, showing the stark contrast of their scale and design against the classical environment of the park. Copies of the publication can be obtained from The Denver Public Library. Other sponsors include Colorado Preservation, Inc.; Historic Denver; The National Trust for Historic Preservation; and The Park People.

Ruth Falkenberg

Letter regarding Libeskind ideas for Civic Center

See the link on our links list to the right for the Colorado chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects response to the Libeskind Plan.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Report on the November 15th Panel Discussion

On November 15, the Park People sponsored a panel discussion of Civic Center, the Master Plan, and the Libeskind Vision Plan. The panelists were very knowledgeable and experienced: Tina Bishop, landscape architect, led the development of the master plan; Kathleen Brooker, president of Historic Denver; Dick Farley, architect and urban designer; Kathy Hoeft, preservation architect, designed the Park People restoration of Civic Center 15 years ago; Dennis Humphries, architect, on the board of the Civic Center Conservancy and on the Landmark Preservation Commission; Tom Noel, historian, professor of history, and author. Several hundred people were there.
While all the panelists agreed on the guiding principals of the master plan - better access, more activity, better maintenance and security, preservation of historic features - there were strong differences of opinion about how to achieve these goals.
Suggestions for better access included bridges (with a concern that the Libeskind bridge design is not the right one), undergrounding streets, traffic calming devices, better pedestrian crossings. It was also suggested that with more activity in the park, people would overcome perceived access problems to get to the activities.
There was agreement that a restaurant/cafe would be a great first step toward increased activity; and that the McNichols building should have a public use, rather than the current city offices, with an entry on the park side. All agreed that this should be one of the highest priorities. The master plan recommends a central gathering place with a new fountain or other architectural feature to identify it. This was generally agreed on with some concern that the new feature should be architecturally compatible with the character of the park.
There were several general suggestions for improving the park: more residential development in the area, especially adjacent to the park, to bring more users and improve security; a parking garage under the lawn to both bring people to the park and solve the parking needs of the area (there was debate about the merits of this); expand the sense of the park from the Mint to the Capitol with safe crossings at Bannock, Broadway and Lincoln; draw Capitol visitors through the park to the Mint and vice versa; building a new structure paired with the McNichols building, as was suggested in one of the historic plans (the new building was intended to be a museum or similar use).
The panelists expressed varying degrees of concern about the Libeskind plan. Opinions included: 1) It has been successful at involving the community in the discussions of the future of the park, and it is one interpretation of ways to implement the master plan. 2) Additions must be compatible with the existing architecture, and keep the symmetry of the historic design. 3) Guard against overcommercialization, and retain the serenity of the park. 3) Fix what's there, don't add gimmicks, avoid "carnivalization."
In a discussion of process, the importance of involving the Landmark Commission was stressed. Helen Kuykendall from Parks and Recreation indicated that the public comment would be presented to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board on January 11, and it seemed that at that time they would make a recommendation to Kim Bailey, the manager of the department.
Kim Bailey concluded the evening and thanked everyone for participating.

Ruth Falkenberg

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Denver's Infrastructure Priorities Task Force

This was posted on the city website
Civic Center
The Park Master Plan for Civic Center was completed in 2005. The plan acknowledges that Civic Center is Denver’s most architecturally and historically significant park; that it serves as the region’s premier gathering place; that care and management has not kept pace with the high level of use; and that maintenance has been deferred for years threatening significant features and structures. The Civic Center Master Plan gives priority to maintaining, repairing, restoring, and enhancing the park’s features. Priority is given to these activities before new elements are considered for the park. The following projects have been identified through the master plan. The full master plan can be viewed at .
• Greek Theatre Rehabilitation
• Voorhies Memorial
• Broadway Terrace Rehabilitation
• McNichols Building Rehabilitation
• Bannock Street Improvements
• Pedestrian Improvements
• Irrigation System Rehabilitation

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Information on the Mayor's Infrastructure Priorities Task Force

the Mayor’s Infrastructure Priorities Task Force is a 110-member citizen group appointed to look generally at ways to finance Denver’s infrastructure needs over time. The Task Force comprises 7 program subcommittees (looking at infrastructure project needs) and a finance subcommittee (looking at finance mechanisms). Each of the 7 program subcommittees will make recommendations to an Executive Committee about funding for particular projects. The Executive Committee will then deliberate and make final decisions on funding. It is possible, even likely, that a bond issue or bond issues will be included in the comprehensive financial recommendation that the Task Force will present to the Mayor at the conclusion of its work. Nevertheless, at this time, no decisions have been made as to the timing, size or content of any bond issue, so your mention of a “May 2007 bond issue” is inaccurate. Additionally, you should know that while it is true that certain historical improvements to the Civic Center Park infrastructure have been presented to one of the program subcommittees as a potential project for financing, it is only one of many projects that have been presented to that subcommittee. The subcommittee in fact is still hearing presentations about potential projects. Not only has that subcommittee not made a recommendation for or against any projects, the members have not even begun their deliberations about the projects presented to them. Once that has happened, projects will have to go through the Executive Committee. Consequently, your statement that the Task Force has “recommended funding” with respect to Civic Center is also inaccurate. Please correct these inaccuracies with your distribution list in order to reduce the amount of misinformation that is circulating about the Infrastructure Priorities Task Force and its work. Thank you. Diane S. BarrettProject Manager, IPTFMayor’s OfficeCity and County of Denver720-865-8780

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Saturday afternoon in the Park

I went to Civic Center Park this afternoon . As I walked into the park from Colfax, I noticed a police car in the park. Not by the park, inside the park. As I walked closer, I saw two more police cars parked by the statues in the center. Several policeman stood around chatting, another seemed to be stressing a point as he spoke to a woman standing next to a police car, her hands behind her back. Close by, two individuals were seated on a bench. On closer inspection, they both had their arms behind their back. Were the three in handcuffs? Probably. Nearby a parent and child walked through the park pointing at the gold dome of the state capitol. At the same time, slightly to the south of the police cars, a lovely bridal party was being photographed inside the Greek theater. I walked by, went into the library and came back. The bridal party was still engaged in photography and others walking in the park, politely walked on the pathways above the theater so as to not interfere with the photos. I followed their lead and we passed an individual asleep on a bench with two shopping carts very neatly packed with layers of blankets and other household objects. Reaching a bench in the center of the park- the police , the standing woman and the two people on the bench having departed, I observed another wedding party having photographed taken with the City and County building as a backdrop.
Skateboarders whizzed by. Some people sat on the steps of the Greek theater reading paperback books and others chatted in small groups.
Is this a terrifying image? To me the most interesting thing was that no one in the park found any of it remarkable. I only found it remarkable because the others in the park didn't and I felt OK. Not threatened, or scared, but feeling like I was where I wanted to be. A park in a city with gorgeous views of two of the major civic buildings in our state. A park with striking neo-classic structures,and well proportioned spaces that provided a respite from the severely undistinguished architecture of the buildings on Colfax. The Ponti tower of the art museum and the post modern colors of the library were much more engaging vistas on the 14th Street side. The Libeskind building receded, only the peaks showing and the red of the Di Suvero sculpture , perfectly framed by the entry to the Greek theater was a vivid streak of color animating the subtle tones of a Colorado November afternoon.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Welcome Westword readers!

As you read in the current ( November 2-8) Off Limits column-(the last two paragraphs) we have all the information here for you to learn about the current Libeskind plans for Civic Center Park and let the city know your opinion. Please leave comments here to share with our readers.

If you go to the central branch of the Denver Public Library to see the Libeskind model on the 5th floor, take some time to see the beautiful exhibit , Colorado Classic Architects.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Parks and Recreation press release

For Immediate Release:

October 26, 2006

Contact: Tiffiany Moehring, 720-913-0633

Denver Parks and Recreation

201 West Colfax Avenue, #601

Denver, Co 80202

Daniel Libeskind's Civic Center model moved for public viewing ease

(DENVER) The three dimensional model created by Studio Libeskind of ideas for Civic Center Park has been moved to the Denver Public Library, Denver Western History Department, 5th floor, 100 W. Fourteenth Avenue Parkway, to allow for greater public access and longer hours. The display will offer the public an additional opportunity to explore the ideas presented by Libeskind on August 30th, 2006 during a town hall meeting at theColorado Convention Center. Comments are being collected through an online survey available at:

Libeskind was contracted by the Civic Center Conservancy to develop conceptual ideas for revitalizing the park that would inspire public discourse and stimulate community interest and participation in park improvements.

While the Libeskind ideas present some exciting concepts for revitalizing the park, the combination of inspiration, public process and the objectives of the master plan will be the driving force for the parks future, said Denver Parks and Recreation Manager Kim Bailey.

Since August 30th, when the ideas were unveiled to the public at a town hall meeting, a series of public forums and community discussions have been hosted by Denver Parks and Recreation and the Civic Center Conservancy, dubbed Civic Center Sessions.

The planning ideas that were presented by Daniel Libeskind do not represent final designs but rather are intended as a starting point to inspire the publics imagination beyond ordinary solutions.The purpose is to seek public input to not only to respond to Mr. Libeskinds planning ideas, but also to give park stakeholders and the citizens of Denver an opportunity to voice their opinions on the potential future of Civic Center.This is only a beginning point of a much larger process needed to implement park improvements.

Currently, there are no funds to undertake a complete design process or construction planning. Therefore, this initial public dialog represents only one step in a much longer process that is required to implement future improvements. All ideas are welcome at this point as we strive to be open-minded and encourage creative solutions to come from all points of view. This dialog will help us determine priorities for projects worthy of pursuit.The process for implementation will be another separate phase, if there is a funded project to pursue.The selection of the architectural team that includes a well developed public involvement process, would be undertaken when a project is funded for implementation.

There are two remaining public forum opportunities aimed at gathering citizen input. These meetings are part of a 3-month long series of public meetings regarding the future ofCivic Center.

November 15 The Park People Panel Civic Center Renaissance Colorado History Museum 5:30- 7:30 PM

The public event will be held at the Colorado History Museum on Wednesday, November 15th, from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m- The museum is located at 1300 Broadway.-Free and open to the public.

-John Temple, editor, publisher and president of the Rocky Mountain News, will serve as moderator of the discussion.? Panelists include:

Tina Bishop, landscape architect and partner with Mundus Bishop Design

Kathleen Brooker, President of Historic Denver

Richard Farley, Principal of CIVITAS urban design firm

Kathy Hoeft, architect and historic preservationist

Dennis Humphries, Principal of Humphries Poli Architects

? Dr. Thomas Noel, Professor of History and Director of Public History, Preservation & Colorado Studies at CU-Denver

December 6 Civic Center Conservancy More ideas Colorado History Museum5:30 7:30 PM

The Libeskind ideas have sparked a number of design ideas for the park by local architects and landscape architects. The Civic Center Conservancy will host a presentation of the plans and follow up discussion. Participating presenters include:

Yong Cho

Steve Chucovich

Dave Duclos

Richard Farley

Susan Saarinen

Randle Swan

David Tryba

William Wenk

Public comments will be included in a summary report to the Denver Parks Advisory Committee in January, 2007.? A public announcement will be made when the details of the report presentation is finalized later this year.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Who exactly is in favor of the Libeskind Plan?

Read Mary Voelz Chandler's article in the Rocky Mountain News
Public Balks at Libeskind's Civic Center Plan ,,2777,DRMN_23962_5081586,00.html
to learn that Elaine Asarch, the President of the Civic Center Conservancy believes that (in reference to the Libeskind plan) " There has been no critical analysis yet. But a lot of people have liked it. They are not coming to the meetings."
So, we wonder, who are they?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

We Want to Hear From You!

Do you have a photograph that shows the beauty of Civic Center? Or perhaps one that show the need for some care and attention for the park? Please send your comments to us with your photos and we will post them on this site. If you have created drawings or plans, please send them our way and we will post them. And please don't leave this site without taking a few minutes to fill out the on line survey and sign the petition.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Landmark Commission briefing

Helen Kuykendall of Parks & Recreation summarized the 2005 Master Plan and described steps toward its implementation: 1 - formation of Civic Center Conservancy to raise money for implementation; 2 - grant application for restoration, and request that restoration money be included in proposed bond issue; 3 - Conservancy engaging Libeskind to generate ideas for enhancements. Shown on two boards called a "Vision Plan," his structures are intended to be lightweight and transparent, emphasize the east-west axis, provide activity and draw people, and improve pedestrian access. She said presentation of these ideas is intended to generate discussion and creativity about the park, and that the large turnouts at the meetings show that it is working.
About 20 people were there, and about 10 spoke - all speakers had concerns about the designs or the process or both. Comments included:
concentrate on maintenance and security; restore existing before adding new structures; these ideas are "froo-froo" and unnecessary; historic and architectural significance of the park very important and should not be ignored; Vision Plan does not follow goals of Master Plan; not appropriate to try to solve transient social problems with architecture; is private money having too much influence at the expense of the public interest.
Comments from members of the Commission included: Is it possible that the Vision Plan might require de-listing the park from the National Register of Historic Places; P&R should be congratulated on scheduling so many public meetings; what will happen to all the survey responses and public comment; the Parks Dept had final authority and the LPC can comment, but not veto P&R plans for parks; at Red Rocks, it was public involvement that changed that renovation from bad to good. The LPC did not take any action.
Two meeting were announced:
Park People panel discussion - November 15, 5:30 - 7:30 - Colorado History Museum Presentation of other design proposals - December 6, 5:30 - 7:30 - Colorado History Museum

Monday, October 16, 2006

Dennis Smith- Parks and Rec advisory board member

Civic Center Park has an image problem. Law abiding and tax paying men, women, and families avoid the park because of the abundance of hobos, tramps, drug dealers, runaways, and assorted odd balls. It is not for lack of amenities, fountains, reflecting ponds and 21st century interactive multimedia components that Denver's premier downtown park is viewed by many as undesirable and unsafe to visit. The unsavory fact is Civic Center Park is dominated by sketchy characters. Bad and illegal behavior has crowded out wholesome, responsible behavior. Fortunately for Denverites the reverse is true, good and responsible behavior drives out bad behavior. Taxpayers and visitors will return when they feel safe. Denver Police Department's "broken windows" policing strategy, where minor infractions are quickly investigated and their perpetrators questioned and arrested, should be implemented right outside the mayor's office window in Civic Center Park. New York's Mayor Giuliani cleaned up the notorious Times Square with a healthy, sustained dose of broken windows law enforcement. Denver can and should do the same with Civic Center Park. Fixing Civic Center Park does not require a multimillion dollar expenditure. However, physical change to the park seems inevitable.

Transforming Civic Center Park should reflect the will of the people of Denver. As a member of the Denver Parks & Recreation Department 's Advisory Board, I am delighted that there is a movement afoot by the nascent Civic Center Conservancy to enhance Civic Center Park. Unlike neighborhood parks (Sloans, City, Washington, for example) , Civic Center lacks the engaged stakeholders that live in close proximity to the park and utilize its amenities. Furthermore, Civic Center park is a grown-up's park, lacking swing sets, tennis courts, ball fields, or the other attributes that bring patrons of all ages to a park. Thus the participation of the Civic Center Conservancy in funding improvements to the park, promoting its greater use, and soliciting ideas for its renovation is welcome . However, I would ask that the Conservancy pay special attention to the Civic Center master plan, completed in 2005. The master plan reflects the wishes of the citizens of Denver. It reflects their good taste, their sense of tradition, and their interest in preserving civic history. The plan included numerous surveys and public hearings, and took months to complete. It was widely publicized process, requested citizen input, and was entirely transparent.

Finally, I suggest that the Civic Center Conservancy look not to Chicago and its $500 million (no kidding) Millennium Park for inspiration for the changes to Civic Center. Rather, continue east to NYC's Bryant Park. What was once a haven for drug dealers, drug purchasers, sleepy transients, and assorted lawbreakers is now a dynamic downtown park that is beautiful, safe, and frequented by all. Bryant Park's website claims "A seven-year push combined supplementary park maintenance, temporary kiosks, and public events ranging from historical park tours to concerts, which reduced crime by 92 percent and doubled the number of annual park visitors." Denver deserves no less.

Dennis Smith
Denver South High School
member Denver Parks Department's Advisory Board District #7

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Report of the october 10th meeting

Report on the October 10th session to the Denver Parks and Recreation Advisory Board

Helen Kuykendall, Parks and Rec manager for the Civic Center project led the meeting. Members of the Parks and Rec advisory board, representing all of the City Council districts and mayoral appointees introduced themselves. Because the meeting was their monthly meeting, they discussed other parks project of interest as well as the Civic Center plans. Dennis Smith, representing District 7 asked the only question about the project, “Will the Civic Center Conservancy provide funds for the park even if the Libeskind plan is rejected?”

Unfortunately, no one from the Conservancy answered the question. The Chairman of the Advisory board announced that “no decision has been made about the plan”, and he wanted to make that clear to the audience.

The room was nearly filled and every person wanting to comment had an opportunity. The overwhelming majority of those who spoke were against the project. Three people spoke in favor of the Libeskind design. One felt it successfully implemented the recent Civic Center Master Plan; one admired the sculptural aspects of the design.

Two announcements were made concerning additional meetings: The Park People meeting on November 15 (though the location is still not confirmed - check our blog and we will post it as soon as we know). Dennis Humphries from the Civic Center Conservancy announced that on December 6th there will be a display of 8 new ideas/plans for Civic Center submitted to the Conservancy (5 of these ideas were printed in the Rocky Mountain News recently). The display will be at the Colorado History Museum.

Helen Kuykendall followed the procedures from previous meetings. There seems to be no recording of the meetings other than the synopsis of the audience comments she writes on a flip chart.

The comments we heard included:

A discussion about the “derivative” nature of Daniel Libeskind’s design by an architect/engineer who also flatly stated the bridge was “ unbuildable” and would have to be much heavier. He provided some photos of Calatrava bridges to make his point about the derivative nature of the design.

Others spoke about their desire to see the park restored and more elements of the original 1917 design built. As with other meetings, the love and respect that audience members feel for Civic Center Park is palpable.

An artist in the audience said she felt that the process was a sham and she believed they would go ahead no matter what the public felt. Helen Kuykendall said that was not the case, but the artist said she felt it very strongly, no matter what the “official” word was.

Carolyn Etter, former Co-Manager of Parks and Recreation, reminded the Advisory Board that there are very clear procedures laid out in their manuals for new park construction and she urged the board members to read and follow them.

Others mentioned activities that could activate the park, without building new structures that overwhelm the park. The inappropriateness of water features in our frequent drought cycles was brought up. One individual pointed out that drinking fountains don’t work in any park and the Department would be better off trying to fix what they have rather than making plans for improvements that would cost a lot to maintain.

Perhaps the most eloquent statement came from an individual who works for the city but was speaking as a citizen, not as a representative of the department or the city. He spoke of walking through the park daily and enjoying the views and surroundings. He mentioned the current exhibit of the American Friends Service committee of boots representing those who died in Iraq. He pointed out that the “civic” nature of the space allowed for this kind of exhibits and how important that was. The park functions as a civic space for the city and the state, and filling the space with new objects and structures will lessen opportunities for civic gatherings and expressions.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Historian Tom Noel's comments on the new plan for Civic Center appeared in the September 9th, edition of the Rocky Mountain News.
Noel: Avoid Civic Center gimmickry

Tom Noel
Remember the first time you saw Civic Center? While most cities have a discordant jumble of buildings, billboards and parking lots at their heart, Denver had a serene, green, dreamy neoclassical park. Its dignity, tranquility, symmetry and low-rise scale put the whole city into pleasing perspective.

Now, Denver seems intent to squander millions burying Civic Center with every gimmick and architectural cliché Daniel Libeskind can pull out of his bag of tricks. Rocky Mountain News architecture critic Mary Voelz Chandler recently cautioned local boosters about the plethora of ideas offered.

Libeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin, one leading commentator has noted, has reason to look tortured. But that doesn't seem appropriate for Civic Center. It should be respected, not smothered under spiraling aerial walkways, look-at-me 72-foot-high towers and other architectural acrobatics. If you like Libeskind's dizziness, consider Elitch Gardens. It is on the market and already compatible with his Civic Center roller-coaster ride.

Before trashing Denver's City Beautiful tradition, the powers-that-be should take a closer, calmer look at what this city will be losing. One tool for doing this is a new book by Fran Pierson, Getting to Know Denver. This well-illustrated paperback scrutinizes downtown structures.

Pierson, a Denver native, has been mapping, photographing and studying the cityscape for decades. He founded the Pierson Map Company in 1979. It produced the most comprehensive maps of Colorado. Pierson sold out in 1994 to what is now Mapsco at 800 Lincoln St., still Denver's best map store.

He teaches and performs music and is coordinator of classical and Latin services at Holy Ghost Catholic Church, which gets a high ranking in his book.

Pierson's guide rates downtown Denver's top 100 buildings on a scale of 1 to 10, making his book a terrific way to start spirited discussion. Pierson sees merit in modernism. He gives Jan and Frederick Mayer's 1998 postmodern residence-museum on Wazee Street his second-highest rating - after the U.S. Post office at 1823 Stout St. (now the Byron White Federal Courthouse).

"Civic Center Park," Pierson writes, "is probably the crowning achievement of Denver's far-sighted and effective mayor Robert W. Speer."

"Does Denver really want to ape Las Vegas by carnivalizing Civic Center?" Pierson asked recently.

The city's current Civic Center consolidates the best in plans provided by America's foremost landscape architect, Fredrick Law Olmsted Jr.; Edward H. Bennett, of Chicago's World's Fair fame; leading local architects William A. and Arthur A. Fisher, Burnham Hoyt, Willis A. Marean and Albert J. Norton, and the great Denver planner and landscape architect Saco R. DeBoer.

The Civic Center they created used to be protected by its designation as a historic district by both Denver and the National Register of Historic Places. The Denver Landmark Preservation Commission, as in the case of the 37-story tower in the Lower Downtown District, is once again being bypassed in a development-bedeviled city.

If Libeskind is to be unleashed, let it be in one of the city's neglected parks suffering from the multimillion-dollar backlog in parks maintenance, not in redoing the crowning achievement of the City Beautiful era. Perhaps the most amazing part of the Libeskind proposal is the notion that it will scare the homeless, along with some of the rest of us, out of Civic Center.

Denver has many landmarks, more than 320 city-designated individual structures and 46 historic districts, set aside for preservation. Let each generation focus on constructing its own landmarks, such as Libeskind's new Denver Art Museum wing, not on costuming timeless treasures with the latest architectural fads.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Who we are

Martha Bennett, FAIA is an architect and partner of Bennett, Wagner & Grody Architects, Denver. She is past president of the Denver chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Ginny Du Brucq, AIA is an architect and designer in Denver. She is a board member of the Denver Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Ruth Falkenberg is a life-long Denverite; worked in all aspects of real estate (development, management, financing, construction); former member and chair of Planning Board and Landmark Preservation Commission.

Christine Ford
, a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Denver, is a former editor of The Urban Design Forum and Historic Denver News, and past director of the Colorado Heritage Area Partnership.

Patricia O'Leary
is an architect and a full-time educator.

Nan O'Neal
is a Denver-based writer. She is the former editor of the Historic Denver News and a member of the Denver Womens’ Press Club.

Lisa Purdy
is a historic preservation consultant who has been active in urban design and preservation for 30 years, both locally and nationally. She has developed inner-city properties, was on the board and staff of Historic Denver and The Downtown Denver Partnership, and was a leader in the formation of the LoDo historic district. Ms. Purdy served on the 1984 Downtown Area Plan Committee and won a one-year fellowship to Harvard University in 1996

Roz Schneider
is a principal of Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture. . She was a commissioner on the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission for nine years. She is currently a Trustee on the Colorado Historical Foundation.

Katharine Smith-Warren
is an art curator and advisor who has worked on public sculpture and art installations in Colorado for over 20 years. She has published numerous articles on art and architecture and created exhibitions for museums and art centers.