Mayor Picks Architects for Justice Center Project

December 16 2005, 2:54 PM

Does the architectural style of this building knock you out or leave you cold? If it leaves you cold, you may not look forward to the design of Denver's new courthouse. Architect Steven Holl was chosen by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper Thursday to design the new Denver courthouse. The picture is of another of Holl's designs, the Chapel of St. Ignatius on the Seattle University campus. Holl is a world-renowned architect, who personally came to Denver to pitch the project. He said,

"There is a core of meaning in a courtroom, but I'm not sure what that is. I've never done a courthouse before," he said, but added that his team includes a firm experienced in that area.

What will the new jail look like? The mayor has chosen architects Hartman-Cox for that project. I couldn't find any jails on their website, but their courthouse designs are here. Last week, Denver Post Fine Arts critic Kyle McMillan, who would have chosen different firms, outlined the major issues involved the selection process from an artistic point of view.

It is important to examine two critical considerations that must go into making this choice. The first one comes down to this: Does Denver want a tradition-based, perhaps postmodern firm that will incorporate historical motifs in its design? Or does Denver want a firm that is more about the present than the past? ....The second key consideration is the need to select two architectural firms that have similar philosophies and could work well together and produce buildings with a degree of resonance.

I like what two of the other Architects had to say about the jail:

Enrique Norten, of TEN Arquitectos of New York and Mexico City, also touched on that issue. "Many people come to this country because of their belief in the judiciary," said Norten, now an American citizen. "People in a detention center are equal to everybody else."

Added Joseph Valerio, of Chicago-based Valerio Dewalt Train Associates:

In the case of the jail, it is "equality, innovation, optimism and safety." It is not, he said, "about failed lives."

Neither were chosen.