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.
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.