By John Moore
Nov. 11, 2012
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.
Current installations and exhibits (click links for more information):
- Lightscapes by Collin Parson (Denver)
- FUERA de la FRONTERA/Outside the Border (16 Contemporary Colorado Latino artists)
- Divine Matrix Flow by Highraff (10-day outdoor exhibit of murals in the making)
- Coral Sphere by Yvonne Domenge (permanent outdoor installation) (Mexico City)
- CoVelo Inc. Fashion Design (Denver)
- VogelVau Communication Design (Denver)
- Icelantic Skis (Denver)
- John Wilbar Furniture Design (Pueblo)
- gneural llc Graphic Design (Denver)
- Esinem Furniture Design (Denver)
- Housefish Furniture Design (Denver)
- Sjotime Industries Furniture Design (Denver)
- Tivi Furniture Design (Denver)
- Jason E. Kay Furniture Design (Niwot)
- Where Wood Meets Steel Furniture Design (Denver)
- Lauren Brooks Interior Decor (Denver)
- Ellen Bruss Communication Design (Denver)
- Impossible Motion and Communication Design (Denver)