Denver Art Museum to Begin $150M North Building Project in November

Denver Art Museum North Building

DENVER – After five years of planning, design work and fundraising, including inclusion in the General Obligation Bond up for approval by Denver voters this fall, the Denver Art Museum (DAM) today announced it will begin preparations for the North Building renovation work on Nov. 20, 2017.

The North Building project, estimated at $150 million, will for the first time unify the museum’s campus and align with the Hamilton Building’s 21st-century systems and art experiences, including expanded resources for youth and school groups, and improved visitor circulation. The project was developed in conjunction with the DAM by design team Fentress Architects and Machado Silvetti Architects. Denver-based Saunders Construction will oversee the development of the project.

The landmark building will be open to visitors through Sunday, Nov. 19, and then will close to the public in order to remove collections and prepare the space for construction. Starting Monday, Nov. 20, the Hamilton Building, south of 13th Avenue, will be open to the public seven days a week to provide additional opportunities for visitor access during the renovation project.

“We are delighted to be taking a first step toward realizing plans to renovate the North Building, one of the City of Denver’s architectural gems,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the DAM. “Preparing the building for renovation is a complex process, including the movement of thousands of art objects, and needs to be undertaken to ensure we are beginning the project on the optimal schedule. This important renovation will extend the life of this iconic structure by addressing critical infrastructure issues which are crucial to meeting 21st-century standards for the care and presentation of art. By presenting collection-based exhibitions in the Hamilton galleries during this time, visitors will have the opportunity to explore DAM’s permanent collections in new spaces with a fresh perspective, while exploring the world-class traveling exhibitions the DAM has become known for.”

unnamed-2North Building Project elements

Enhancements to the Gio Ponti-designed North Building will enable the museum to better serve the community by putting education at the heart of the museum campus, presenting new and expanded art gallery spaces, improving all major systems throughout the 210,000-square-foot building, and creating a central point of entry with a new Welcome Center. The project is slated to be completed by the building’s 50th anniversary at the end of 2021.

The architecture team of Fentress Architects of Denver and Boston-based Machado Silvetti collaborated with the museum to create the design for the refreshed North Building and new Welcome Center. This work followed several years of planning for the North Building’s renovation, which began in 2012 with structural feasibility studies, followed by a master-planning process with Denver-based Tryba Architects. Upon the project’s completion, the North Building will include new spaces for the museum’s renowned Design and Western American art collections, as well as additional exhibition space. The work also will complete Gio Ponti’s original vision for visitor access to stunning 7th-floor mountain and city views, add exterior site-safety improvements and update environmental and other key systems to current generation technology.

North Building Project funding

The DAM has been privately fundraising for the North Building renovation for the last five years, receiving generous support from many early donors. The museum is also participating in the City of Denver’s General Obligation bond process to help fund ADA compliance, as well as life safety, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and outdoor-safety upgrades. The bond would help to complete the DAM’s fundraising effort by providing $35.5 million toward critical upgrades and enhancements within the North Project, approximately one quarter of the funds required to complete the estimated $150 million renovation. If the bond is approved, the DAM would match every public dollar with approximately three private dollars.

Architect Talks

On Friday, Oct. 6, the DAM will host two free talks with the North Building project’s architecture team from Denver-based Fentress Architects and Boston-based Machado Silvetti. Curtis Fentress and Jorge Silvetti will share project design concepts and talk about the inspirations behind them at two presentations at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. in DAM’s Ponti Hall. Free tickets will be available to the public starting Aug. 22. Visit for additional details.

Images courtesy of Fentress Architects and Machado Silvetti Architects.

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