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.