Following several years of preparation and planning, and three months after the world-famous Gio Ponti-designed Denver Art Museum tower was closed and emptied of its valuable contents, the DAM held a ceremonial groundbreaking on January 10, signaling the start of a three-year rehabilitation project.

The brutalist-style building sits on the south side of the Civic Center on West 14th Avenue Parkway, right across Acoma Plaza from the Denver Public Library, itself an architectural wonder. Though the Ponti has been well-maintained since it was built in 1971, the intervening decades have taken their toll. The silvery tile cladding is in desperate need of restoration. The exterior lighting system, meant to highlight the dimensional patterns on the overlapping planar facades, hasn’t worked for years. The gaskets on the windows — many of which are unusual and unique in shape — are failing. The plumbing, heating, air-conditioning and every other kind of utility also need to be replaced. And then there are those elevators! 

The goal of this $150 million project isn’t just to give the Ponti a facelift, but also to create a visual (though not literal) connection between it and the freestanding Hamilton Building across West 13th Avenue. The solution is the creation of a new, built-from-the-ground-up pavilion to replace the fragment of an earlier rendition of the museum that’s attached to the Ponti.