About this exhibit
Comprising the fields of furniture, product, communication, interior and fashion design, the Design by Colorado exhibition features leading designers and highlights our thriving creative sector. As an extension of the 2011 – 2012 Design by Colorado exhibition hosted in conjunction with Arts & Venues Denver and Colorado Creative Industries at Denver International Airport, the 2012 show presents the next level of dynamic design from local businesses. Design by Colorado will be on display from November 2012 through April 2013, at the newly renovated McNichols Civic Center Building.
About McNichols Civic Center Building
At the turn of the 20th century, Denver Mayor Robert Speer had a bold vision for Denver. One that would make Denver leap from the map of the west and earn its moniker, Queen City of the Plains.
The City Beautiful Movement, an urban planning philosophy, flourished throughout America in the late 1890s. The movement intended to inspire civic virtue and pride among urban populations, through the splendor of thoughtful architecture and designed spaces. It was believed that such beautification could promote harmony and increase quality of life. Mayor Speer embraced this viewpoint and acted to turn Denver into an urban sprawl of parks, civic centers, and streets, which would eventually make up Denver’s Civic Center Park.
A cornerstone of the new Civic Center Park was laid in 1909 when philanthropist Andrew Carnegie gifted $200,000 to the City of Denver for a Carnegie Library. The doors of the stunning Greek Revival-style library, designed by Albert Ross of New York, opened in 1910. The library featured three-story Corinthian-style columns, brilliant floor-to-ceiling windows, grand staircases with intricate railings, and a picturesque skylight that allowed sun onto the third floor’s black and white mosaic tiled atrium, which displayed open book stacks, an art gallery, and a place for children to play.
The library was a hub of learning and pride for residents of Denver, inviting people of all ages to browse the many shelves of books. The library became so popular that it eventually outgrew its space, and in 1955, the books and staff were moved to a new location on the opposite side of Civic Center Park, where today’s Denver Public Library Central Branch still sits.
Later that year, the Denver Water Board relocated its offices to the old Carnegie Library and remodeled the building for office workers. Sadly, much of its interior character and light were lost, including the charming atrium and skylight.
Through the decades, Civic Center grew with the addition of the imposing City & County Building, high-rise office buildings, bus stops, traffic lights and endless cars along Colfax Avenue. The once signature Carnegie Library, faded into the background. For many years the building sat virtually unnoticed, until 1999 when the building was renamed the McNichols Civic Center Building after Colorado’s 35th governor, Stephen McNichols. Then in 2006, the Water Board moved out and the City Treasury Office took residence from 2006-2009, when again, the quiet beauty fell into the shadows of Civic Center Park.
A year later in 2010, the inaugural Biennial of the Americas sparked life back into the building by dusting off the lofty windows and transforming the building into a space for culture, art, color, and ideas for the month of July. The façade of the building was adorned with bright colors and lush vegetation, while the inside highlighted innovative works by local and international artists. For a few weeks, the Civic Center beauty was in the spotlight again.
The Biennial generated a renewed interest in the building and later in 2010 the City of Denver committed to permanently reopening the building. In 2011, Arts & Venues Denver, an agency of the City & County of Denver, invested $1.8 million to begin the first phase of renovations, designed by Humphries Poli architects. Other major funders include the Boettcher Foundation, Colorado Historical Society, Bonfils Stanton Foundation and the Gates Family Foundation. The second floor houses the Boettcher Cultural Pavilion, dedicated to bringing cultural opportunities to the people of Denver.
In October 2012, Denver’s Civic Center garnered national attention when it was officially proclaimed a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior, putting a spotlight on the area’s place in American history.
Today, the McNichols Civic Center Building opens its doors to the public for cultural activities such as gallery shows, speaking engagements, performing arts and much more. Each floor will be curated with art exhibits and installations, available for free public viewing at various upcoming events and during normal operating hours, Thursday – Sunday, 10am- 5pm.
The McNichols Building looks to continue the tradition of learning and exploring that Andrew Carnegie instilled over 100 years ago, while promoting and embracing the arts and culture in our city today. The McNichols Civic Center Building: New experiences. Classic space.
About Arts and Venues Denver – Create Denver
As the Creative Capitol of the Rocky Mountain West, Denver’s creative sector contributes greatly to our economy, quality of life, and authentic identity. Creative industries offer unique cultural experiences to residents and tourists, promote neighborhood vibrancy, generate jobs, and attract a talented workforce. Denver’s creative community embodies the Western spirit of entrepreneurialism, innovation and collaboration, producing the high-quality works seen in this exhibition and enjoyed locally and nationwide.
Recognizing the significant benefits Denver receives from its creative sector, the city of Denver developed Create Denver, an economic development initiative that seeks to strengthen the overall health and vitality of the city. Create Denver supports the growth and development of the creative sector, including individual artists and creative enterprises such as film, music, art galleries, art districts, fashion design, and graphic design. www.denvergov.org/CreateDenver