Doors Open Denver is an easy concept to embrace, but a tough challenge.
The annual event, which invites the public to the best buildings in town, obviously appeals to the more curious among us, who are “really curious about all the places they go by and go: ‘What’s in there? ‘”As architecture author Mary Voelz Chandler puts it.
But DOD, as it is called, has a lot to clear up. There are nearly 70 locations on the list this weekend, and the geography is huge – as far north and west as the Highlands Masonic Temple, on 35th Street and Federal Boulevard, and as far south and east as Denver Fire Station No. . 18, near Alameda Avenue and Fairmount Drive.
There are old city landmarks like the Airedale Building by LoDo and the Perrenoud Condominiums by Capitol Hill, as well as refurbished newcomers like The Temple in Curtis Park and Turntable Studios in Jefferson Park.
There are buildings in the news like the Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. See it now before it’s torn down.
There are also numerous ways to attend the event, including numerous tours of places like the Mayan Theater on South Broadway, the new downtown Triangle Building, and the Westin Hotel at DIA.
There are also some interesting shows, such as a world premiere of a play by Nolan Kelly at Byers-Evans House, a pop-up art exhibition by the Black Cube at La Alma / Lincoln Park amphitheater, and jazz concerts at Union Station, the event’s official headquarters.
That’s a lot of choices, and that’s where Chandler can really help. She is the author of the extensive Guide to Denver Architecture and a former architecture critic for Rocky Mountain News. These days she is working as a marketing communication specialist at GH Phipps Construction Company.
DOD asks them to pick their favorites each year, and that seemed like a good list to use to improve and get the Denver Post readings. For 2016, she chose a strain that includes old and new projects.
1. Fire Station No. 3, 2500 Washington St.
Architect: C. Francis Pillsbury.
The 1931 red-brick landmark “is the oldest operating fire station in Denver,” said Chandler. “It’s tucked away in his neighborhood and it just looks very cozy.”
2. Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Arts, 1311 N. Pearl St.
Original architects: Maurice Biscoe and Henry Hewitt; Renovation: Chip Melick, Rachel Lawrence and Sarah Boulet
The museum complex, which includes painter Vance Kirkland’s original art studio, opened in 2003 and displays more than 3,900 works. “It’s so wonderfully luxurious in terms of the objects it contains,” said Chandler. The museum is closing for a move to the Golden Triangle next year, and Chandler wants to “remind people that May 1st is the last day of operation.”
3. Robischon Gallery / SH Supply Co., 1732 Wazee St.
The 1909 structure was a staple in Denver’s early days and is often overlooked for its historical significance. “It’s not a fancy building, but it’s a lot of time,” said Chandler. The bonus for visitors is that it is now home to one of the city’s premier contemporary art galleries.
4. Equal Building, 730 17th St.
Architect: Andrews, Jaques & Rantoul
The Equitable, an ornate gem dating from 1892, is probably the most popular attraction on the annual DOD list. Everyone appreciates the detailed stonework and vaulted ceilings, including Chandler, a staunch modernist. “It’s my favorite building in Denver,” she admits.
5. RedLine, 2350 Arapahoe St.
Renovation architect: Semple Brown Design.
Chandler recognizes the Semple Brown team for their 2008 work in transforming a “wholly unforgettable factory space” into one of Denver’s premier visual arts centers. There is a large gallery, an elegant library, and a dozen smaller studio rooms that are loaned to artists for free.
Ray Mark Rinaldi: 303-954-1540, [email protected] or @rayrinaldi
DOORS OPEN DENVER. The annual celebration of the city’s architecture takes place Saturday and Sunday, with most locations open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A good place to start is Denver Union Station, the headquarters of the event. Details on locations, opening times and tours can be found on the website. The construction sites are free; Tickets are required for tours. Doorsopendenver.com