Photos: McNichols Building re-opens as culture center in Denver’s Civic Center Park

Design by Vogelvau. Photo by John Moore


Click here to see my full slideshow of photos from Friday’s grand opening.  

By John Moore

Nov. 11, 2012

Design by Highraff. Photo by John Moore

The anchor of Denver Mayor Robert Speer’s turn-of-the-century civic beautification project was Civic Center Park. The Carnegie Library, completed in 1909, was the first completed building. The Greek Revival-style library was designed by Albert Ross of New York and funded through a $200,000 gift from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Its architectural style was in keeping with the neoclassical aesthetic of Speer’s City Beautiful movement “and its principles for order and harmony,” according to historic documents. It is still connected to the City and County Building by an underground tunnel that was intended as a quick getaway for prominent city officials in the event of an emergency.

In 1956, the new Denver Public Library opened at its present location at 14th Avenue and Broadway. The Denver Water Board moved into the Carnegie Library and used it for offices in 1957, making numerous changes to the building’s interior. The Carnegie was renamed the McNichols Civic Center Building  and used as office space by other entities such as the city’s treasury department until 2009.

It remained empty until the 2010 Biennial of the Americas reimagined the building as a home for culture, art, color and ideas. Last year, the city agency known as Arts & Venues Denver invested $1.8 million to renovate the building as a three-floor arts center, designed by architects from Humphries Poli. The building, dedicated as a National Historic Landmark last month, will be used for gallery shows, speaking engagements, concerts and other performing arts. Each floor will be curated with art exhibits and installations the public can view for free from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays.

Click here to see my full slideshow of photos from Friday’s grand opening.  


Current installations and exhibits (click links for more information):


Click here to see my full slideshow of photos from Friday’s grand opening.  

Click here to read The Denver Post’s feature story about the renovation and more about the city’s plans for future use of the McNichols Building.


Photo by John Moore