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Biennial of the Americas: Mine Pavilion

What is that large wood structure at Speer and Larimer? Today DenverUrbanism is going to cover it with all the details and, of course, photos!

As many of you know, the Biennial of the Americas is going on in Denver right now. If you are unfamiliar with the event, “The Biennial of the Americas is an international festival of ideas, art, and culture hosted in Denver, Colorado, that provides a nonpartisan platform for leaders in business, government, civil society, and the arts to examine the significant issues impacting life in the Americas.” Make sure you head to their website to learn about all of the events going on around Denver.

This tall skinny structure is called the ‘Mine Pavilion’ and instead of summarizing what it is, I am going to quote the well written description of this structure.

By Paul Andersen

Pezo von Ellrichshausen’s Mine Pavilion is a prime example of architecture’s ability to communicate multiple urban narratives; the project’s intelligence is in its overlapping identities. Its relatively simple form-a box that becomes slightly narrower as it rises-combines several generic urban building types.

To drivers on Speer Boulevard, it is a billboard. To pedestrians walking along Larimer, it is a tunnel. Its height and proportions make it a tower. Its suspended floor and intermediary site make it a bridge.Its beetle kill pine facade and structural detailing make it a mining building. The pavilion’s schizophrenia is subtle. Its diverse architectural genetics are integrated so coherently that at a glance, it appears to be a single, pure gesture. The project is also slyly contextual.

Every typological reference has defined the site at one time or another. Denver was a mining settlement in 1858, when General William Larimer staked a square mile claim on the very same piece of land. Gold panning prospectors gathered around Larimer, forming Denver City. Today, the tower is the elemental feature of the area.

Mine Pavilion also proposes a compelling urban strategy. It addresses a primary conflict of the urban campus-how to connect the Auraria campus of the University of Colorado in Denver, which is a traditionally isolate space, to the vibrant and fluid fabric of the city. In this case, a major boulevard separates the two. The need for a better connection between the growing Auraria campus and the downtown area has historically been viewed as a need for a better bridge. Rather than moving people quickly and efficiently across Speer Boulevard, Mine Pavilion occupies the gap. The architects’ alternative approach is to bring urban activity to the middle, to create an urban zone with a unique identity in the grassy plain of the median. In the sit’s rich tradition of discovering new value in the land, Mine Pavilion is 21st century prospecting.

Here are some photos of the structure.

 

 

And some shots from inside the Mine Pavilion.

  

Bridging the gap between Auraria campus and Downtown Denver has always been a challenge. It has been addressed many times along with proposals along Speer Boulevard that have come and gone. The Mine Pavilion is a great representation of how a single building can completely change the pedestrian experience when traveling across Speer Boulevard. What are your thoughts on what actions should be taken to close this gap?

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9 Comments

  1. Larry says:

    I love the interior shots. It’s too bad they can’t keep it.

  2. Richard says:

    The new CU-Denver academic building currently under construction is a big step in “bridging the gap”. The way it is oriented at the corner of Speer and Larimer will help build what will eventually be a street wall along Larimer between Speer and the Tivoli building, once new buildings are added. Constructing a new building on the grass lawn in front of the UCD North Bldg. along Speer would also better define this “gateway” into the campus. All of this is part of the latest Auraria Master Plan.

    The missing piece involves filling in the parking lots near Larimer Square, likely with private residential development that builds out the entire site. This would be made easier if northbound Speer was rerouted closer to southbound Speer. This would require the city making a commitment to the CBD-Auraria connection since it would cost at least several million dollars and involve building a new bridge over Cherry Creek. However then you could cut in half the wasted green space in between north and southbound Speer (as well as the parking lot), and it also makes the site adjacent to the creek between Larimer and Market much more attractive for development.

    The site that is currently home to the fire station and a parking lot is another area that could be fully built-out and ease the gap between the campus and the vibrant streets of Blake and Market. This would be perfect for some kind of UCD/Metro-affiliated tech or small business incubator.

  3. RH says:

    It might be worth mentioning that there are two other colleges on the Auraria Campus, not just UCD. One of them, MSU Denver, has over 50% of the students who attend the campus.

    • Paul says:

      I’ll second that, considering that MSU Denver graduates far more Denver residents than any other institution, you’d think that the city would show a bit more love.

    • Lauren says:

      Agreed, why mention Auraria campus if you are going to act like UCD is the only school there. Might as well say UCD if that is your way of thinking.

      But regardless the campus is shared by three academic institutions, UCD, MSU Denver and CCD. Each should be mentioned here, especially since (as RH has pointed out), Metro’s students make up over 50% of the campus population.

  4. Isaac says:

    it would be cool to see Speer Blvd go under ground at Auraria Parkway to about stout st….I can picture a park in place of the huge Speer Blvd gap between towntown and Auraria campus. …sculptures.. fountains… Venues… attractions… green open space always attacks life. what a better place to add a park that where denver started?
    I love my city.

  5. JA says:

    I am hoping this is temporary. While it does acknowledge an issue, it doesn’t solve it. Without context it looks incomplete to the average person passing by.