the Civic Center

the axis

Civic Center Park

the lantern of justice

the plaza

de Boer 1924 plan


Civic Center Axis

the form

the material

potential locations

for example

the culmination

thoughts on greenery


initial statement


Denver Justice Center Campus and Civic Center District


the Civic Center Axis
he Civic Center Axis area can be made more intelligible. I propose to visually activate the space around the monumental architectural structures which populate the western part of the axis. Along Colfax and Fourteenth Avenues there are and will be various locations for sculptural elements which can aid in leading the eye around this Civic Center area. At various points (to be determined in the next stage) sculptural elements can be integrated with the new architecture in the Civic Center. These elements should have a corresponding form-language and visually relate to each other. At the same, time they must be able to function as independent features of the Civic Center.

Along with the curved lines of the sculptural elements, which are mostly horizontal and askew, they will keep the eye moving along the avenues. The curved elements will appear intermittently, at points on the musical bars - the trees.

the form
I propose to make movements like pen strokes in the air, in sweeping curves, - like those in sketches by Rembrandt. In some cases they can be used independently of each other, and at other times in combination, to amplify the chosen direction. The curves will be made by bending stainless steel pipes of various lengths and diameters.

These curvilinear sculptures must embody and manifest space, with their movements away from the buildings - not curving towards them and enveloping them - ignoring the space which it is all about. They should act as a reflector, keeping the movement active and the space in motion. The building's wall will act as a tangent plane.

As the rolled pipes will be seen from various and continuously changing angles. They project themselves as dynamic elliptical shapes.

the material
The intangible, thin Denver light was an incentive for me to want to use stainless steel. I plan to grind the surface lengthwise to produce bands of reflective surfaces which will give a glimmering to brilliant effect.

potential locations Click to see the spot plan.
Aside from Justice Plaza there are various possible locations along the perimeter of the Civic Center Axis; some of these are functional within the scope of my proposal. To arrive at a comprehensive proposal, I would need to gather much more information about the many factors to be taken into account. Here I will name the locations which seem most interesting at this stage:

  • the green spaces around the courthouse and detention center buildings,
  • the north wall of the Post Office and Parking Garage Building, which can act as a reflector for the curved movement initiated by a second curvilinear construction projecting from Gene Amole Way into the space of Fourteenth Avenue. The upward curve from street level would be taken up by a single sweeping movement up and away from the facade of this building.
  • the areas, projecting along the north and south axis of Civic Park, around which Colfax and Fourteenth Avenues turn. These are the focal points along the axes of both avenues. As the specific proposals for sculpture in these areas can be developed in the next phase I have given examples of the type of work I envision here. Click here to see them.
  • The Gene Amole Way location between the detention center and the courthouse - the Plaza. See the culmination below.

the culmination
The plaza is the culmination between the detention facility and the courthouse. Sculpture should be monumental, challenging the scale of the courthouse and detention center. The folding glass facade of the courthouse, as it is planned at the moment, would be a perfect backdrop for the interplay of curved lines in space. The example sculpture, portrayed in the flyovers, is an example of a sculpture which is there to be observed. I wish to make an open, transparent construction which actually invites to be entered - not only to be seen. To say it even stronger: a sculpture through which one inevitably goes - like going through a group of trees.

The sculptural construction should have a counterpart inside the atrium of the courthouse - in the space between the transparent curtain and the balconies. The morning sunlight would project onto the walls from the reflective pipes. Spotlights can give the same result at night.

In order to emphasize the Civic Center Axis, it is not necessary to concentrate the means to do so within the confines of its exact territory - on the other side of Fourteenth Avenue, the Post Office and Parking Garage Building flanks the central axis area and offers an opportunity to utilize its north wall which, together with a sculptural element attached to it, will define the space leading from the courthouse area to Civic Center Park.

The sketches will, I hope, give an idea of what I mean.

Click on the one below to see them.

thoughts on greenery
Trees lining the Avenues Colfax and Fourteenth will contribute greatly towards unifying the civic axis. I think it would be worthwhile to study the possibility of using trees that can be pruned and maintained as horizontally cut shade trees; the Sycamore (Platanus Occidentalis) is possibly an example or the London Planetree (Platanus Acerifolia). I think the urban character of rows of pruned to shape trees would be appropriate in a Civic Center.
Click here to see examples of shaped street trees

As I already stated, studying the possibility of the plan for a broad open, park space which Saco de Boer projected at Cherry Creek back in 1924, would not only make a good connection with the creek area, but contribute towards a green urban space in which the Civic Center Park is the main park location. I think that the quality of the Grand Avenues would improve significantly - having both ends of the axis in balance - in the sense that the west end of the axis will also be a beginning.


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