Artwork: Inside the newly renovated Martin Building at the Denver Art Museum

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The grand staircase of the reception center. Photo by James Florio

Here and now

Four things you should know about the new and improved cultural institution.


Designophiles have much to celebrate with the grand opening of the newly renovated Martin Building at the Denver Art Museum. Over 11,000 square feet of new and redesigned exhibition space houses the museum’s enviable collection of 19,000 pieces of architecture and design (one of the largest collections of its kind in the country), some of which are on display in a rotating exhibition called By design: stories and ideas behind the objects. Currently on display: Denver furniture designer Laura Kishimoto’s Yumi chair, commissioned in 2018 by the museum’s curator of architecture and design, Darrin Alfred. “One of my favorite things about the chair is how bold and shameless it is,” says Alfred. “It’s meant to be looked at from all angles. “

Yumi chair, on display at the Denver Art Museum. Photo courtesy of the Denver Art Museum

Here’s a look at everything you need to know about the new and improved Martin Building, which reopened to the public this fall.

1. The original structure is truly one of a kind. Designed in 1971 by the late Modernist architect and furniture designer Gio Ponti and James Sudler Associates, based in Denver, the seven-story glass-tiled building, formerly known as the North Building, was one of the first high-rise art museums on its construction and is the only building designed by Ponti in North America to date. (The Italian architect’s notable works also include Milan’s Pirelli Tower and the iconic Superleggera chair.) “He was a visionary and an artist with incredible attention to detail,” said Curtis Fentress, director of Fentress Architects. , who worked with Boston-based architecture firm Machado Silvetti on the most recent iteration of the building. “Much of what Ponti is known for is represented in the tower: textured facades, geometric cutouts and form according to function. “

The new roof terrace of the Martin building. Photo by James Florio

2. The three-year, $ 175 million renovation celebrates and even augments Ponti’s vision. The design team began by rehabilitating the exterior of the tower, replacing many of the damaged original pyramid-shaped glass tiles (produced by Corning) with replicas made by German tile company Bendheim; these also cover the new facades of the building. The unconventionally shaped windows, some of which offer mountain views, have been replaced with more energy efficient versions (the building is now LEED Silver certified). And speaking of views, a rooftop terrace – part of Ponti’s original vision that hasn’t been built until now – is a prime spot to take in the cityscape.

3. Interior renovations make way for a lot more art. More than 33,000 square feet of elegant galleries and educational spaces have been carved into the core of the castle-like building, with many old storage rooms repurposed to make room for the museum’s growing collection. “We did not have enough space to adapt to the scale of this collection [before]», Explains Darrin Alfred, curator of architecture and design. “This is our opportunity to showcase the architecture and design collection in a way we haven’t been able to do in the past. “

4. A visitor center connects it all. Sandwiched between the Linear Martin Tower and the Angular Hamilton Building, the new rounded Sie Visitor Center “unites what might otherwise be experienced as disparate elements,” says Fentress. The curves of the structure echo inside, where the Grand Staircase, built in the form of a monolithic terrazzo, meanders in a sinuous way to connect three levels. The Visitor Center houses the ticket office, event space, and two new dining options, including the Boss Architecture-designed restaurant, run by chef Jennifer Jasinski and aptly named Ponti.

Coinciding with the 2021 reopening of the Martin Building designed by Gio Ponti in Denver, the release of a new coffee table book celebrating the work of the starch maker. Gio Ponti (Taschen, 2021) is available for $ 250 on Amazon.

This article appeared in the December 2021 / January 2022 issue of 5280 Home.


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