Denver’s skyline is evolving every day, with new additions like the Denver Art Museum’s recently renovated Martin Building, or the upcoming residential towers Populus and One River North, making it an increasingly prime place for architecture-peeping.
With that in mind, the Denver Architecture Foundation (DAF) and Colorado Photographic Arts Center (CPAC) created the Y/OUR Denver photography competition, which invites photographers of all skill levels to find and photograph their favorite pieces of local architecture.
Now in its fourth year, the competition is part of the DAF’s annual flagship event, Doors Open Denver, which celebrates the Mile High City’s architecture and design via a series of self-guided and expert-guided tours. “Similarly, the Y/OUR Denver competition and subsequent online exhibition are a celebration of Denver from the perspective of its citizens,” says Pauline Herrera, executive director of the DAF. “It’s an opportunity to see Denver buildings from a unique and artistic vantage point. The images reflect the beauty and diversity of Denver’s architecture inside and out, and ultimately, our collective civic pride.”
This year, 216 entries were submitted during the competition, which began September 23 and ended October 28. Samantha Johnston, executive director and curator of CPAC and juror for the contest, had the tough task of narrowing the array of black-and-white and color imagery—which captured building exteriors, interiors, and details—down to just four winners.
How’d she do it? “When I look at the work, first, I’m looking at the architecture, but also the composition and overall photograph,” Johnston says. “I enjoy seeing different perspectives of Denver—spaces I’m aware of and ones I maybe haven’t seen, or perhaps a new way to look at a space we are so familiar with, such as Union Station. As someone who moved to Denver in 2010, I love seeing the city through everyone’s eyes.”
This year’s winners included Alan Ford, who received Best in Show for “Denver Museum of Nature and Science”; Joshua Palmeri, whose “Balconize” earned Best Exterior; Nancy Bratton, for her Best Interior shot “Swirl”; and Risa Friedman, who won Best Detail for “Turntable Studios.”
“Alan’s Best in Show image captured great lighting and an angle I had not seen of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science,” Johnston says. “The building fills the frame, and the lighting highlights both the outside and interior of the building.”
Herrera appreciates the images for the curiosity each one inspires. “They motivate me to investigate further; to seek out each site on my own to experience it independently,” she says. “Alan Ford’s ‘Denver Museum of Nature and Science’ made me do a triple-take. I was sure it was the south side of the museum, but it’s the west side. It’s not [a perspective] we see often. We most often see images of that site taken in the opposite direction—toward our stunning Denver skyline and Rocky Mountains. I also always appreciate a good interior shot, like “Swirl” by Nancy Bratton. I’m not quite sure where it was taken, and now I’m determined to find out and see it for myself!”
The winning photos, along with 26 other finalist images, will be displayed through February 28, 2022, in an online exhibition at the DAF website and the CPAC website. Stay tuned for updates about next year’s Y/OUR Denver competition at denverarchitecture.org.