It’s pretty much a given in this business that anytime you hire a new art director, he or she is going to want to redesign the magazine. David McKenna was no exception. When he accepted our offer to join 5280 in February 2010, Dave immediately began sketching ideas for improving the magazine—even before leaving New York City, where he’d most recently been art director at National Geographic Adventure.

But Dave had the good sense to keep those sketches to himself when he got to Denver. “First, I needed to get to know the city and meet the people who read our magazine,” he says. “I wanted to understand the city’s DNA.”

What he discovered was “a city where history and innovation co-exist, a place that’s constantly reinventing itself while still holding on to what works. Those are all things that lend themselves to great design.”

Over the course of the next year, Dave and the rest of our art and editorial team set to work, much of it done at night and on weekends after putting that month’s issue to bed. I could go on (and on) about the refined typography, the brighter color palettes, and the more inventive layout grids that they’ve come up with. But the fact of the matter is that it’s all right here, ready to be discovered, in the magazine you’re now holding in your hands.

And while there’s a lot to take in, I hope you’ll also see that 5280’s new beauty is more than skin deep. Great design is as much about how a product works as what it looks like. So we’ve taken this opportunity to re-imagine the magazine from front to back. We’ve streamlined some sections and expanded others. One small example: In a world where almost no one sends snail mail anymore, we reworked our old Letters page to better reflect the many ways we now have to interact with our readers. You’ll find the new section, dubbed The Conversation, on page 14, and we hope that you’ll join in and become part of a spirited and ongoing dialogue.

For nearly two decades, all of us here at 5280 have worked hard to create a magazine that’s worthy of the city we love. Like Denver itself, our new look is accessible yet increasingly sophisticated. As we celebrate the 18th anniversary of our very first issue this month, we’re eager to kick off the next chapter in 5280’s development.

This article was originally published in 5280 July 2011.
Daniel Brogan
Daniel Brogan
Daniel Brogan is the founder, CEO, and Editor-in-Chief of 5280 Publishing, Inc.