towering denver art museum is renewed and expanded

the denver art museum (DAM) will reopen its doors to the public next month, on october 24, 2021 — after being partly closed for many years — with its expanded and revisioned campus designed by machado silvetti and fentress architects. 

the original lanny and sharon martin building — formerly referred to as the north or ponti building — was designed by the renowned italian architect gio ponti, and opened in 1971 as a seven-story tower; it was the first-ever high-rise art museum and his only completed building in north america. millions of reflective tiles clad the building’s exterior, and its two-towered façade has long been an iconic city feature. this fall, the museum unveils the 150 million dollars renovation and expansion project, while celebrating the martin building’s opening for its 50th anniversary.

round glazed façade welcomes visitors at denver art museum's transformation

all images courtesy of denver art museum (DAM)

a transparent elliptic-shaped facade approachable from all sides

designed by US-based firms machado silvetti and fentress architects, and constructed by saunders construction, the changes incorporate a new welcome center, reinstalled galleries, and creative spaces for education, events and dining. the new complex is characterized by the oval glazed structure, which welcomes the visitors and seamlessly connects all aspects of the museum campus. spanning 50,000 sqft (4,645 sqm), and rising two levels, sie welcome center stands out due to its unique facade, which is comprised of a series of curved structural glass panels with insulated glazing.

‘to create the new sie welcome center in the architecturally rich context of denver’s golden triangle creative district, it was critical for us to design a structure that was simultaneously in dialogue with the vibrant visual language of ponti and studio libeskind’s designs, while also providing connection to the museum. with its elliptical shape that is approachable from all angles, and transparent glass façade, the sie welcome center is an inviting and glowing beacon to greet all visitors.’ said jorge silvetti, principal at machado silvetti. ‘an unprecedented feat of engineering and the first building to use curved glass panels in this way’.

round glazed façade welcomes visitors at denver art museum's transformation
the original steel tube-like entrance was restored

museum act as a catalyst for the ‘golden triangle’ redevelopment

after the dynamic expansion and addition to the existing museum, — dubbed the hamilton building designed by american architect daniel libeskind, and opened in 2006 — the museum has served as a catalyst for the reviving of the surrounding ‘golden triangle’ creative district. over the past decade, three adjacent museums opened in the neighborhood, creating a cultural hub; the clyfford still museum, history colorado center, and the relocated kirkland museum of fine and decorative art. along with this, new residential and commercial projects, independent art galleries, restaurants, and retail, form a vivid neighborhood with arts and culture as its focal point.

the project involves an extension including a new gallery and public space, fulfilling ponti’s vision for visitor access to remarkable floor views, the addition of skylights that reveal new angles of the building’s design, and exterior improvements such as lighting and revitalization of the glass tiles on the building’s façade.

round glazed façade welcomes visitors at denver art museum's transformation
the original building is clad in millions of reflective tiles

a series of creative activities and events will follow the reopening of the martin building. the museum opens its completed campus to the public on sunday, october 24, with free admission to all. reservations are available starting on september 17 on the museum’s website(found here).

round glazed façade welcomes visitors at denver art museum's transformation
elliptically-shaped sie welcome center

elliptical glazed façade to welcome visitors at denver art museum's transformation this fall
night view of transparent welcome center