Citation
Theater form & function in the city

Material Information

Title:
Theater form & function in the city case study, the Denver Center
Alternate title:
Theater form and function in the city
Creator:
Seward, Sara Jane
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
70 pages : illustrations (some color), charts, maps, plans ; 22 x 28 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Theater architecture ( lcsh )
Central business districts -- Colorado -- Denver ( lcsh )
Central business districts ( fast )
Theater architecture ( fast )
Colorado -- Denver ( fast )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (pages 69-70).
General Note:
Cover title.
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Landscape Architecture, College of Design and Planning.
Statement of Responsibility:
Sara Jane Seward.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
10790018 ( OCLC )
ocm10790018
Classification:
LD1190.A77 1982 .S48 ( lcc )

Full Text
THEATER FORM & FUNCTION IN THE CITY
CASE STUDY
THE DENVER CENTER
ARCHIVES
I LD
1190 A77 1982 SAB
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO SPRING 1082
AURARIA LIBRARY
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This thesis is submitted as a partial fulfillment of the requirements for a master of Landscape Architecture degree at the University of Colorado at Denver, College of Design and Planning, Graduate Program of Landscape Architecture.
Accepted:
Daniel B. Young, Program Director
Date:
Sara Jane Seward
Landscape Architecture degree candidate
University of Colorado at Denver May 1982


acknowledgements
For h1s guidance and support:
Daniel B. Young Program Director
Graduate program of Landscape Architecture University of Colorado at Denver College of Design and Planning
For his time and comments:
George Hoover Architect
Consultant to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts
For his Insight Into the role of the landscape architect In the urban environment and for h1s support:
Richard Marshall Landscape Architect
Denton, Harper, and Marshall
For his willingness to share his knowledge of the city and Its workings and especially for his patience, diligence, and encouragement:
Robert Yeager Architect
Director of Civic Design
The Denver Partnership


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prelude
The most often repeated advice I received when choosing a thesis subject was:
"Pick something you like."
I like cities.
I like the hustle-bustle, I like the variety and the color....the pomp and display.
Sometimes I like the smell.
I like the excitement and the chaos, the lights and the window dressings, the buildings and the plazas.....I like the end-
less cross-section of people.
Some cities have a high quality of intensity and some are dull. Some seem to "work" and some are overwhelmed by their struggle to function. My thesis will explore the history of city workings and examine the physical and spiritual function of one of its institutions, the theater. For a case study, I have chosen the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, located in downtown Denver.


contents
Problem Statement.............................2
Hypothesis....................................3
Process.......................................4
Methodology...................................7
RESEARCH......................................8
Greek theater................................11
Roman theater................................13
Medieval theater.............................14
Baroque theater.............................. 15
Modern theater...............................17
PRINCIPLES...................................19
conclusions..................................21
CASE STUDY...................................23
A brief history..............................25
Context......................................27
Project area.................................30
Analytical conclusions.......................48
GUIDELINES...................................51
DESIGN EXAMPLES..............................59
Conclusion...................................65
Bibliography.................................68


problem statement
The health of a city largely depends on the functioning of Its various organs In harmony. The government buildings, spiritual or religious temples, the market, the educational and art Institutions, transportation, housing, and street networks all must amal-gamlze Into an harmonious unit If the city 1s
to thrive. History shows us a variety of examples of this synergy which can be applied to today's cities and their divergent institutions.
In Denver, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts was conceived as an Idea in the late 1960s. It was to be the central physical structure that would house the array of performing arts: the Denver Symphony Orchestra, cinema, theater, dance, etc.
The new buildings were located next to the existing auditorium arena.
They were designed by Kevin Roche and completed 1n the late 1970's after many financial and contractual struggles. Today the Denver Center has an evergrowing clientele and is expanding Its programs to meet the needs of a booming city. It is in its infant stages. Now Is the time to consider the philosophical and physical place of the Denver Center as an Integrated part of the larger organism, Denver City.


HYPOTHESIS
IF A PERFORMING ARTS CENTER IS PHYSICALLY CONNECTED TO THE CITY AND DESIGNED TO ENCOURAGE PARTICIPATION OF ALL SEGMENTS OF A SOCIETY, IT WILL BECOME A LIVELY URBAN STAGE FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE CITIES DREAMS AND EXPRESSION
OF ITS CONSCIENCE


4
The complex subject matter chosen for this thesis requires a chart or map to logically follow it from the beginlng to the end. Because of Its multi-facetted nature, It Is difficult to look at the whole problem at once- The process chart then begins to fulfill this need In much the same way that a mercator projection allows us to look at all the bodies of water and land masses on the earth in one glance. Additionally, like the world map, it allows us to define the route from one point to another by describing'the stops In between. The use of an accurate and meaningful process chart, then, 1s an enormous asset to both the researcher and the reader.


hypothesis
PP^C/ESS HETH0P0k06,y
PROCESS CHART


I
METHODOLOGY
objectives
Examine Urban space and Its historic function within the city.
Explore the history and philosophy of theater and its contribution to the life and form of the city.
Determine design elements which exist or can be Introduced to the project area.
Organize a heirarchy of design principles for incorporation of the Denver Center into the city and the city into the Denver Center.
i
Create conceptual design examples of the project area using the principles established.
purpose
tasks
To analyze and understand the fit of one part of the urban system as it relates to the total organism of the city and to insure the enhancement of the whole through a fine tuning of the part.
To become cognisant of the traditional role of cultural activities and its contribution to the spirit and form of the city; to compare and contrast the role of historical and modern theater.
To identify those elements which can strengthen the ties of the Denver Center to Downtown Denver and enhance its function as a performing arts center and a lively urban stage.
To provide a document for the guiding of development of the galleria and its linkages to ensure its place as a vital part of the Oenver urban system.
To test the use of the principles and provide an example of how it can be used.
Inventory significant features and urban spaces within the project area.
Compare traditional city form to that of Denver and evaluate.
Investigate the history of theater and understand its role as a continuous Research theater as an element of Denver with particular emphasis on the Denver Center.
Evaluate the collected data for opportunities to introduce design elements such as rythm, logical sequence, repition, logical order, harmony, color, etc.
Evaluate each element or system and determine its relationship to the overall scheme.
Establish principles for design development which will answer identified needs.
Emphasize how principles can work as a unit to create a synergistic relationship between the Denver Center and the city.
Using the principles established, graphically show how they can work to link the Denver Center to the city and enhance its function.
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The following section is the research portion of the thesis dealing with the history of cities and their theaters


Theater and the performing arts as old as civilization itself. limitation, exaggeration, dance, song, and ritual are all part of the theater. The amalgamation
of artistic talents poets, writers, actors, technicians, engineers, dancers, set designers, costume designers, musicians combines, and for a magical moment there is an illusion of life, experienced vicariously by the audience. Then the performance ends and the moment is gone forever.
Because of its temporal nature, the performing arts are fundamentally different from many other art forms which can be displayed and enjoyed over and over again as works in their own right. They do not call for the elaborate preparations and the great gatherings that the performing arts do. The special needs of the theater have evolved over time and created the physical form of the stage. Through manipulation of the imagination, a symbolic approximation of life is created which helps in the understanding and clarifying of human experience. The need for an expression of this ethos is a timeless, universal phenomenon. Given the slightest opportunity, man will perform.
The role and place of the theater in modern cities is abysmally unclear. The first part of this thesis paper will be a synopsis which examines the historical role of the theater and its connection, both physical and cultural, to the city as a whole.


Caves of ancient tribes bear paleolithic drawings of ritual, parade and the drama of the hunt. The Intent was to intice the gods of nature to act favorably toward the tribe. But certainly, it was also to release emotions, create magic, and celebrate life.
Lewis Mumford states:
If there Is reason for suspecting some dim ancestoral continuity in this custom, there Is even better reason for finding in the rites of the cave the social and religious impulses that conspired to draw men finally into cities, where all the original feelings of awe, reverence, pride, and joy would be further magnified by art and multiplied by the number of participants.
For who can doubt that in the very effort to ensure a more abundent supply of animal food if that was in fact the magical purpose of painting and rite the performance of art itself added something just as essential to primitive man's life as the carnal rewards of the hunt.
10


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Dancing, costumes, and mimicry supplied the
germ of theater art, but the first physical
evidence of the theater appears most significantly In Greece.
greek theater
More than a mere collection of houses and buildings grouped together for the purposes of goods storage, commerce, and protection, the Greek city-state was the birth of the communal struggle for the Ideal. The basic components of this city are still visible, albeit, changed by time, In the great cities of Western Europe and the Americas. It was, however, only a democratic society In a primitive sense, as the social order was based on slavery. But the elite group of citizens did participate fully in the life and culture of Its city from the rites of the acropolis to the business of the agora to participation In the theater. The ordering of the physical relationships of these components of the
city produced that synergy whereby the whole of the city was greater that the sum of Its parts.
By examining these relationships and tracing the place of theater through time, a clearer understanding of Its function will be attained.
The highest point of the Greek city and the most revered was the Acropolis, where homage was paid to the gods, particularly Apollo and Dionysus....for the city was. 1n a spiritual sense, the gathering of the masses for the greater glory of the supernatural. The Acropolis was set on a craggy hillside and overlooked the entire city. As the home of the gods. It contained not only the more familiar temples of Aphrodite and the Parthenon, but also a series of shrines and temples of lesser gods, strewn along the Panathenalc way the only route to the summit.
The Agora the market place was where the "lowly" business of commerce conducted Its activities. An amorphic town center was where the barter, trade and politics were conducted.
A balance for the lofty Ideals of the Acropolis, 1t was as much a bloodline for life 1n


the city as a stage for the day to day activities of man.
The courts of law, the baths, the ports and docks, the gymnasium and the theater all became organs with distinct functions within the body of the city.
The early theaters were carved out of a hillside to provide a natural amphitheater for the audience. On the flat, circular "stage" the rites of the god Dionysus were performed.
As with primitive theater, the purpose was to honor and appease the gods with rite and ritual, pointing out man's sense of helplessness before the mysterious natural forces of the universe. It is therefore not surprising that the theme of many of the Greek plays deals with man and his struggle with fate.
The early plays dealt mainly with gods and legendary heros, but as the society matured, the themes also matured and dealt with man's
search for the truths of existence and his defiant struggle against his fate. Embodied in this struggle, there was the concept of discovering the natural order while stepping away from the obsequious defeatism which plagued primitive societies. Respect for these complex emotional themes was manifested in the theater's magnificient and monumental style. The Greek theater was both a reflection of the culture and an indication of it's future.
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12
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roman theater
Following the decline of the Greek city-states, classical Rome emerges as a mixture of two cultures, Greek and Etruscan. Here, also are clear, functioning city organs with the introduction of some new ones such as the forum and the coliseum. The advanced engineering skills of the Romans brought aqueducts, sewers, roads, and magnificient structures that are today awesome symbols of past glories.
The Romans borrowed heavily from the Greeks for their art, and in theater this was especially true. They directed their energies more toward
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the spectacle of the collisium, circuses, and parades which would serve to magnify their self importance and exaggerate their power and glory. They were not interested in theater as a display of man struggling with his destiny.
The physical structure of the Roman theater was a magnificient prototype of the Greek theater, located on a hillside near the docks. But the Romans never significantly improved on the model nor advanced the art.


medieval theater
Out of the wreckage of the opulent Romans... the debauchery, extravagance, waste, and lack of sense of purpose....rose the beglnlngs of the Christian religion and the "dark ages". Christianity sought to embrace earthly sorrow and pain with the promise of a better world beyond. Anything "sinful" was to be avoided. The city turned Inward, surrounded by huge protective walls to guard against Invasion.
As weaponry Improved, the wall became more massive and the city Imploded to contain Its growth. The result was narrow streets and passages winding around the buildings. The only great expansive spaces were In the market place and 1n front of the church. The church dominated medieval life both spiritually and physically; Its spires pierced the sky high above the town. The kings, princes, noblemen, and all their subjects literally lived In the shadow of the church. The acts of life's passage baptism, marriage, funerals were conducted at the alter and art was preserved In Its sanctuary.
CITY
Thought of as an Instrument to portray the glory of God, painting, sculpture, and theater were most often of a religious theme. And through the church, ritual, parade, procession and theater survived. The clergy learned that drama could be used to relay religious teachings to the common man who was most likely Illiterate. Thus the Introduction of mystery, miracle, and morality plays, which were the basis for the Elizabethan theater.
Other forms of theater were performed first on the steps to the church and later from a wagon In the market place. And as the Greeks found a delight In comedy, so the dark ages produced a form of burlesque. Called the "Feast of Fools" the Irreverent holiday often featured plays that were a parody of the ceremony of the mass. As the church became more and more secular, so did art and theater, until with the dawn of the Renaissance it once more stood on its own.
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baroque theater
As Renaissance man emerged from the dark ages, the grandiose style of art and architectural adornment reflected the new mood of civilization. The opening up of trade between large cities and ports brought many travelers and with them the exchange of Ideas and culture. A greater understanding of physical and mechanical principles allowed them to not only build more elaborate and monumental buildings, but to express hope, joy and a control over their destinies.
A rebalancing of the once all-powerful church and the Increase of political power among the once weak kings and princes led to new forms within the city and a new direction tn city planning.
It was not until 1579 that the theater as an archltectual form surfaced again. In Vicenza, Italy, Andrea Palladio built the first stage/ auditorium since the classic theaters of Greece and Rome. But the OUmpIco Theater had two
Important additions......a roof and a backdrop.
The scene of the backdrop was.the same for all performances. It used perspective and
visual Illusion to create the scene against which all plays were performed. The scene was a street.
In his book, Streets for People, Rudofsky makes the point that "the Identification of the street with the theater and vice versa, corresponds precisely to the Italian's Idea that the street Is the supreme stage. On the Ollmplco's stage, streetscape was elevated to a fastidiously composed work of art."^ Rudofsky goes on to say that from the Greek Dramas through the theater of the Baroque, the street has been the everpresent scene: The Merchant of Venice, Julius Ceasar, The Taming of the Shrew,, etc.. The street was where the actions of life took place and therefore, the perfect backdrop for a play which wished to create the Illusion of life.


As the Baroque period progressed, theater became a more acceptable art form once again.
It was during this period that theater was presented in two distinct forms. The formal theater of the palace and the theater of the street. The first was a stage with actors and audience; the second was a lively, all inclusive participatory theater of bards, vendors, Jugglers, mlnstrals and the public at large.
Probably the most revered of all theater today are the Shakespearean plays once performed at the Globe Theater. The themes of the plays and their underlying passions make them both timeless and universal. Where many of the Baroque plays were plays of the palace, the Shakespearean plays were directed at the masses of blossoming urban population.
The staging was a mimicry of Innyards and bear-pits where roving actors played. The themes of the plays were for the most part based on classical tales.
With the French Revolution, the theater took a turn toward the romantic and Its themes tended to., the current debates of absolute despotism and Individual freedom.
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modern theater
and the grid
With the discovery of the "new world", the Europeans brought their city planning policies with them. Note the cities of the Caribbean and South America, for Instance, with their worn plazas of specified dimensions, surrounded by political and religious buildings and then the town radiated out from this central core In a grid fashion.
Many of the Eastern cities of North America are more baroque In nature, Washington O.C. being one of the more splendid examples. But, the western American City, that result of manifest destiny and expansion. Is for the most part, located on a creek bed, and laid out 1n a grid pattern. This was convenient for the purposes of surveying and sale and aqulsltlon of land.
In the plains of the west, this often means that the view down the street does not end In some great monument (such as the Arc de Trlomphe
of Paris) or In the vista of a magnificent building (such as the capitol building In Washington D.C.), but rather. It goes out to
city
transportation of people and goods. The street does not naturally act as a stage for people as the Italian streets did, but has become a thoroughfare for movement from one Interior space to another.
The theater In the modern grid city does not necessarily occupy a special place within the city, but Is more often superimposed on the grid In a location which has little relationship to the other city Institutions. Therefore, as we saw In the Roman example, Its potential Is stifled and Its function limited.
In my case study, I will explore this problem as It specifically relates to Denver and its performing arts center.
plains and the endless sky beyond the city western city
limits. The road systems were made for the


In the last 500 years, theater has grown through a nunber of stages from naturalism to expressionism to surrealism to symbolism. And Its form has expanded. There are the great theaters and opera houses of the old European cities, the Broadway theater district of New York, dinner theaters, theaters In the round, penny opera theaters, and of late, theater complexes. One of the first of these was at Rockefeller Center In New York, which houses major television and radio studios and contains the lavish Radio City Music Hall with all Its guilded ceilings and extravagant set designs. New York Is also the site of Lincoln Center...one of the first performing arts complexes. It houses the New York State
Ballet, symphony orchestra, opera, repertory theater, and JulHard school of music. Although Its design has been criticized, the majesty of the complex Is remarkable. Other cities have built their own theater and performing arts complexes, San Francisco, Kansas City, and Denver. Theater has remained with us as a symbol of civilization, culture and refinement In a city. But Its role and purpose have become muddled.
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Throughout history, we have seen the expression In one form or another of theater as an Integral part of society. The success of the Integration varies In both time and place. It Is clear that theater 1s not a frivolous luxury, but rather an Important element of the culture of a city and a reflection of Its ethos. If we are to fully reap the rewards of theater, then we must have a clear understanding of Its function within a city and a society. If we look at a city as a whole, living organism, surely we must see theater as a vital and necessary part of the city and the clvIUza -tlon.
From an historical perspective, then, principles Can be drawn and applied to any modern city.


principles
* A performing Arts Center should be connected to the urban core of a city
* The urban space surrounding a Performing Arts Center should reflect a theatrical theme and be a street theater for viewing and participating.
* A theater district should be immediately recognizable as such and should Invite participation of all segments of society.
* The theater district should appeal to the sense of delight and celebrate the joy of life.
* For a citizen of the city, a theater district should be a source of pride and provide for a display of pomp.


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CONCLUSIONS ON CITIES & THEATER
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Looking at all the pieces at once, we can see that the Greek theater was an Integral part of a city system which responded the the needs of Its citizens. The Roman theater was more
of a forced situation.....something cultural, but not Integrated.
Medieval Theater was sequestered within the church...though It leeked out Into the market accalslonally. The Baroque period saw the theater In two forms...the formal theater of the palace and
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the street theater. And the modern grid has Its theater superimposed upon It with little regard to location.
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In the broadest sense, the subject of my thesis is the logical integration of urban spaces their function, their use as a place or way.
-What makes one place lively and secure while another is dull or threatening?
-How can urban places be connected by urban ways?
-What is the role and purpose of theater in a city?
-What is the physical and spiritual place of the theater in Denver?
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Before embarking on an examination of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, It Is Important to have a contextual perspective. First I will develop a brief sketch of the historical, geographical and current physical settings, and then define and analyze my project area.
a brief history
Denver was settled by early pioneers of the western movement....hunters and trappers,
miners, some ranchers.....and experienced
several boom bust cycles 1n the mid 1800s. Founded on the banks of the Cherry Creek and South Platte River, It acted as a supply camp for the mining operations scattered throughout the nearby Rocky Mountains. Variously named the "Silver Queen" and the "Queen City of the Plains",la Its auspicious beglnlngs, Denver struggled for permanence when many Colorado towns were being abandoned. Floods and fires threatened Its very existence as well as the federal change to a gold standard of currency. Denver can claim a romantic past as a wild west town complete with cowboys, Indians, cavalry....mine strikes, lively bordellos, and gunflghts. However, there was an element of Denver's early society that wanted the best civilization had to offer for
Its citizens. The Tabor Opera House, the Broadway Theater, and the Windsor Hotel, attest to this. The coming of the railroad In the early 1890s assured the permanency Denver and since then It has grown to be the major city of the Rocky Mountain area.
Denver Is laid out 1n a grid pattern typical of the western city. However, Its proximity to the spectacular Rocky Mountains offer a relief to the monotony of many grid cities.
The terminus of many streets end In a majestic view of the awesome mountains themselves, a constant reminder of both the geographical location and the closeness of nature's bounty.
Secondly, because of Denver's early settlement pattern, the old towns of Aurarla, St. Charles, and Denver City had different grid patterns. These grid layouts combine to form present day Denver and offer an Interesting


street pattern. Some streets actually do
end In monumental buildings or other views
which make the streets less monotonous.
Consequently, Denver has a nunber of what
4
Grady Clay calls "epitome districts".
That Is, the place where a clash or breakpoint took place and resulted In a dramatic shift In the city pattern. Clay points out that these have historically been developed In a spotty fashion, razed and redeveloped. They are prime sites for civic centers, fair grounds, and urban renewal projects because they represent the outskirts of two neighbor hoods which abutt. Since these Joints are usually on the outskirts....away from the heart of the neighborhoods, they are not particularly sacred to either one.
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A look at the general context of downtown Is necessary before the project area can be looked at specifically. In the historic research, the Renaissance and Greek theater was an Integral part of the city. The relationship of the theater to other city Institutions 1s an Important factor In the health of the city and the realization of the potential of theater. In the context map, the adjacencies of the capitol hill area, the Aurarla Campus, and downtown Denver can be seen. The Sixteenth Street Mall connects lower downtown and Union Station with the Capitol complex. Together with the Seventeenth Street financial district, with Its tall skyscrapers and newer buildings forming a canyon-like atmosphere reminiscent Mew York City, they form a long spine of stores, businesses and a pedestrian-transit system which acts as the core of downtown Denver. Conceptually, then the downtown area can br seen almost as a sort of barbell with the capitol complex on the one end and lower downtown/ Union Station on the other, connected by Sixteenth and Seventeenth Streets.
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CONCEPTUAL LINKAGE
DOWNTOWN DENVER
The Convention Center, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and Aurarla Campus are like the disconnected satelltes.... not Integrated with the core...neither adding life to It nor sharing In Its existence.


PROPOSED LINKAGE
DOWNTOWN DENVER
Ideally, then, for a theater district to become a vital organ of the city, and for the city to take advantage of Its theaters, there must be some physical connection. The proposed linkage, then, Is Curtis Street... the logical "urban way" to connect two urban spaces?.


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PROJECT AREA
The project area, for the purposes of this Study, Is from the Sixteenth Street Mall, down Curtis Street, through the Galleria of the Performing Arts Center, to the park and Speer Boulevard. The area Is then further divided Into three zones which have distinct functions and very different ambience.


/----------------------------------------------------
Zone #1 Includes the Intersection of Curtis and Sixteenth Streets to the beginning of the Performing Arts Center Galleria at Curtis and Fourteenth Streets. The Galleria Inside the complex 1s Zone 12, and Zone #3 Is the park behind the Center to Speer Boulevard.
Each zone 1s analyzed In three maps. First the land use map describing current uses. Second, a map of.'.the'type':of bustness'and street facade. Third Is a map outlining the type of change necessary to create a theater district based on historical
principles presented In the research portion of this paper.
From this analysis process, design guidelines are established for the design of the project area and each zone.
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Looking first at the inventory of zone 11, it can be seen that in fact on these two blocks of Curtis Street, there are a nimber of businesses which ought to produce1 pedestrian traffic....five restaurants, the Executive Tower Hotel, a bus stop, and a large retail store. However, the parking lots, the Federal Reserve Bank and the Mountain Bell Building offer little or no animation, decoration, or life to the street. The attempts that are made 1n the front of these buildings are disjunctive and ineffective.
The Federal Reserve building has seme planting beds, the Mountain Bell Building has some emp ty planters, and the Executive Tower has some plastic plants, new old-style lighting fixtures and imitation stone siding. The sidewalk in front is of a tex-
tured concrete imitating brick pavers which is visually out of place and difficult to walk on. The three restaurants that do exist are well hidden. Adding to these problems, the tall buildings and the orientation of the street,blocks out the sun making it a dark and foreboding place.
The result of this is a tremendous sense of tension between the Galleria's arches and the highly designed Sixteenth Street mall. Curtis Street remains almost as a
vacuous tunnel between the two......and
Instead of using this tension to advantage, the street's vacant, cold, and dark nature is magnified. Curtis Street begs to be the pedestrian link, the urban "way" between the Sixteenth Street retail district, the Seventeenth Street financial district, and the Center for the Performing Arts.
\
Conceptually, Curtis Street is a cold and dark, colorless street which tends to repel rather than attract the pedestrian as a logical and enjoyable way to get from the busy Sixteenth Street Mall to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. The glass arches of the Galleria are an alluring and impressive site from the Mall. It is this drawing card which Implores the improvement and redesign of Curtis Street as an urban way".
I
32


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Zone #2, the theater complex Itself, remains mostly empty. There are various shops, some plans for restaurants (which have been delayed continuously for the past several years), an office and of course the theaters themselves. Except for the specifically planned events and theater, the galleria remains devoid of life. This lack of pedestrian traffic no doubt contributes to the reluctance of shop owners to locate In the galleria.
View of The Center for the Performing Arts and Downtown Denver 1n the background.
36
The arches of the Galleria: parking and retail 1s on right and proposed retail to be built In front of the auditorium arena on the left.


Denver Centers Theaters: the Space, the Stage, the Lab, and the Cinemas
Taking a conceptual Inventory, the overwhelming feeling Is "empty, stark, and lifeless".
Yet, there are many people In the design or planning field who cannot help but feel Its tremendous, almost monumental potential. Again the glass arches are alluring and the view down the stairs toward the mountains a constant reminder of the beauty surrounding Denver.
To the student of archltectual Wstory, the Galleria Is reminiscent of the famous Galleria In Milan....and one aches for the same type of ambience. -

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37


Boetcher Auditorium: home of the Oenver Symphony Orchestra and stage for Opera Colorado.
The conceptual analysis emphasizes the emptiness and clearly shows problems which must be addressed by consequent design schemes. The first 1s that when In the galleria, surrounded by the buildings which house Denver's theaters Indeed, the most major theater complex for hundreds and hundreds of miles and there 1s no sense of what the buildings are, what they represent, or even that they are the theaters. Unless a production Is either filling up or letting out, the dominant emotional feelings are ones of desertion, emptiness......almost as If some great civ-
ilization had once built and used the complex, but that its purpose has been obscured by time. Surely a city the size and Importance of Denver cannot afford to allow these fleeting temporal moments when there 1s a theater production In process to serve as its entire theater experience. It Is here that the potential Is both an aggravation and a challenge.
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CONCEPTUAL INVENTORY
VIEW TO nOUHlWH6 8CAUE
ZONE 2
40


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DENVER CENTER
CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS
SCALE
ZONE 2
41


Zone 13 consists of the park behind the Performing Arts Center and adjacent to Speer Boulevard. The park Is basically an unplanned expanse of unhealthy grass with several small saplings and a few scattered evergreens. It appears as If It Is completly unplanned and not of any particular use....left over space. The original park plan and a subsequent plan developed by the city have not been Implemented and there 1s a controversy brewing over' the addition of a glass solar fountain. Part of the problems with this space Is the debate over control. The park belongs to the city of Denver, but the Performing Arts Center has a clear Interest In any developments which take place there. The park remains as physical evidence of a lack of co-operation and conmon purpose.
It's purpose Is far more grand. It cannot deny Its urban context: It Is, afterall, adjacent to a major traffic arterial and developing urban train system beside Cherry Creek. It also sits on the edge of the downtown core, and could act as the front door to the city from the west and from Auraria Campus. The park Is a potential "soft" open space within the "hard" urban environment.
Secondly, it has the potential to enhance the grandeur of the buildings and reinforce their theater theme and purpose within the city. In this way 1t can become a part of the overall complex and not just another city park that happens to be located next to the Center for the Performing Arts.
This park has similar problems to the complex Itself In that It Is empty, sparse, and exposed. The stairs leading down from the theaters seems to lead nowhere and no attempt Is made to capitalize on Its magnificent views. There Is nothing that Identifies It as a theater park and It remains as just so much space left over when the buildings were completed.
The first thing needed In the park Is something to convey to the user and the passer-by that It Is the park which Is connected to the largest theater complex In the Rocky Mountains. It cannot exist merely as a city "green space".
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THAT \6 TO TAKE PLACE 1M A BUlLPlNtr &\0UID FI HD IT£ EXPRESSION IMTHe.
WHOLE- X?B6>l<$rH STRUCTURE., PLAHHlNLr CT ARE.A6, lATlMLr OUT Op CIRCULATIONS, MATERIAL'S AND DECORATIONS.
PAulj.^rjllo
_______________________________________y
42




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CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS
6CALE
ZONE 3


analytical conclusions
Taking the information gathered from the preceedlng analysis, It Is apparent that a new linkage from the downtown core to the Performing Arts Center Is a necessary com -onent of an overall scheme to make the Center a vital part of the city. This link will serve to allow the potential of the complex to be realized, while Including It as an Important part of the expanding Denver core.
One of the strongest points shown by the research of city and theater Is that the theater, 1n order to fulfill Its true ethical function, must be accessible to a wide segment of society. That different types of theater are necessary to accomplish this, and that the promotion of these theater forms Is a step toward the health of the whole city Is clear. For Instance, during the middle ages, when theater was considered a bawdy art form.
It found expression 1n the formal ritual of the church. It also found expression In the pagents and passion plays performed In the market square. So, there was both a formal and Informal theater.
A more modern and pertinent example might be Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts In New York City. While having lunch there one summer afternoon, I was fascinated by the constant parade of theater folks In view of my seat. A troupe of young ballerinas passed by, a music student was leaning on his cello studying a sheet Brahms, two actors were going over a script, stage hands were wheeling a large piece of scenery past, and a man with a marionette was entertaining a group of seated children. The sense of "theater* was all around. And, It was being enjoyed by both those who were active participants and those who came to watch.
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Again, during the Baroque period, the palace theater with Its gullded auditoriums- and street theater with Its bards, jugglers, and minstrels extsted side by side forming a total city theater.
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It Is precisely this ambience which Is lacking around the Denver Center for the Perfbrmlng Arts. Where the formal Interior spaces offer us a wide selection of good theater, the more Informal theater of the street 1s non-existent. The tragedy of the Galleria Is an expression of this lack. The generic park adjacent to the theater 1s another missed opportunity, and Curtis Street still another.
The fulfillment of their potentials Is a hope that would be a great boon to the city of Denver. Not theater as strictly seen with auditoriums and audiences and planned productions, but spontanlous street theater....alive and teeming with energy and spark.
us to conclude that of all these pieces, art and culture are a low priority: and It is this tunnel vision which hinders the realization of our full
potential.
I believe the potential 1s there and that the Galleria provides an excellent
stage. But, a conscious effort needs to be made by all the parties Involved.... the DCPA board, the planners and architects and landscape architects, the city managers, the artistic community, the traffic engineers, the parks department... to cooperate In the realization of this potential.
The complexity of city management and problems tends to give us tunnel vision. We see traffic and the potholes, the crime and the poverty, the big businesses and politics, and the art and culture as distinctly different and do(not consider their contribution to a larger overall scheme.
It Is precisely this tunnel vision which allows
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50
In the re-design of the project rea, the complexity of 1t must be organized to Insure continuity. The following guidelines take Into consideration the effect of changes within the project area and Its effect on the city. Specific recommendations for each zone will follow.
A city Is a system of organized complexity 1n that any one part of the system affects all other parts and therefore the whole. The guidelines will take Into consideration the effect of the changes 1n the project area on the city and visa versa.


r
HYPOTHESIS)
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51


guidelines
UNITY
A major problem at Denver Center Is Its lack of connection to the city core and Its surrounding activity centers. In order to strengthen that connection, some common threads must be extended from the core downtown areas through the project area. Introduced elements (trees, lights, paving, etc. ) should recall or reflect existing elements providing continuity with the downtown Denver core.
IDENTITY
The Denver Center currently addresses the needs of "formal" theater, but the outdoor space does not compliment this. A sense of delight and celebration should be Incorporated Into these spaces to reinforce the purpose of theater. The' project area should be recognizable as a "theater district" and relate to the pedestrian scale. Color, texture, and form should be used to evoke this emotional response through such anmenltles as banners, posters, billboards,sculpture, murals, signs, and appropriate plant materials.
SPONTANEITY
If the Denver Center Is to exploit Its potential as the performing arts center of the city. It must Invite participation -both planned and spontaneous of all segments of society. Currently, the formal planned programs are exceedingly successful. However, a great opportunity for street theater remains untapped.
Design elements should be arranged to promote spontaneous theater. These elements may Include promenades, grand entrances, viewing seats, assembly areas, Impromptu stages, participatory art, and sculpture.
PRIDE
The theater district Is where a city acts out Its dreams. The emotional complexities of the theater deal with the broadest expanse of human experience from Joy, despair, hope and love to man's struggle against his fate to pure whimsy. The sense of delight and celebration Is, In fact, a serious matter. Great caution must be taken to balance the sophisticated and the uninhibited, the gaiety and the grace, the whimsy and the reverence.
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ROR.I^ES OR
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If me FUTUtt K> NOT RECKONED WITH. BUT, SUCH MISTAKE-, AKE NOT AVOIDED BY C-HAVlHCr AS \TTrti FUTURE WERE. KNOWN WON CERTAINTY AND IN GtREAT DCTMt. N6TSAD, THE PUAMNERIoNoW for A STRATEGY WHICH PERMITS the. future TO UNFOLD yJlTHoUT iNVAUOATTNOf vx> much of- rue fast."
CCKiANlHcHlHlTZ.
52


Well balanced, appropriate design detail should be employed In every part of the design to assure the success of the overall scheme. High quality, durable materials are Imperative. Every element from paving patterns to benches to plant materials -must have a purpose and fit Into the overall design and not be chosen out of context.
V

WHEN 3rat AMD Love YiOfX--rt><5,ETHM.. EXPECT A .
JOHH 1E.U*K4H
53


f
zone 1
Zone II Is Curtis Street from the 16th Street Mall to Denver Center
ouitTji or.
1. Because of the placement of the Denver Center with respect to the downtown grid, a strong tension 1s created between the 16th Street Mall and the Arts Center. This tension must be acknowledged and addressed with the use of lighting, paving, trees, sculpture, banners, etc.. This can be handled 1n several ways Including:
-accenting the lineality
-Introducing contrast by accentuating the horizontal
-use both the horizontal and vertical elements to Imply an elongated grid
an
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2. Curtis Street appears to be very disjointed because of the lack of any similarity In building type, streetscape, paving, or related activity. Design elements should be used to Introduce harmony, unity and rhythm.
OJATl* ST.
3. The Denver Center's arches which terminate the west view down Curtis Street needs a balance'at the highly designed 16th Street Mall to anchor and signify the bounds of the theater district as well as Indicate its approach. This could be a ticket booth, announcement kiosk, sculpture, or marquis.
4. The design elements chosen should contribute to the theme of the theater district through color and form and reinforce the pedestrian scale.
5. The paucity of transparent windows along Curtis Street brings about a lack of interest and Intrigue between Indoor and outdoor spaces and accentuates the overwhelming feeling of a vacant canyon. Shop, restaurant and building owners should be encouraged to add more window space. This would be benlflclal to both the emotional quality of the street and the activity of the various businesses. If new buildings are added In the two empty parking lots, they should be encouraged to add at least 50X window space on their street facades and articulation and fenestration at the pedestrian level.
6. The one way traffic away from the arches of the Galleria deprives the motorist of a spectacular view. The traffic on Curtis street needs to be slowed down some and the one way of the street needs to be addressed. This could be accomplished by making It two way, reversing the direction and balancing the vehicular and pedestrian
space.
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54
THIS fWHt fOf- K>OlATH0r tv fcAYTHiHGf ISTRUE.OT A MOOERtt -5>1CKESS.
CAMIUjO &1TTE.


(--------------------------------------------------------------------------
zone 2
Zone #2 Is the Denver Center's Galleria
1. In a pre-archltectural study conducted by Muchow Associates and 1n the request for proposals for the development of commercial space In the D.C.P.A., a number of guidelines and suggestions have been stated. These call for encouraging people from a wide range of "age groups, Interests and backgrounds...to come and enjoy the center". The request for proposal goes on to describe parades, carnivals and street celebrations. This paper should be brought forward again and a renewed committment by all Involved to see these ends should be made.
2. During the course of my research on the Denver Center, I was unable to determine the cause for the Inability to rent out the retail spaces In the Galleria to the types of businesses outlined In the request for proposal. Since It Is now nearly five years since the Center was first opened, It Is clear that some action In this area needs to be taken with particular emphasis on renting shops and businesses which will attract people, l.e., restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries, boutiques, dance wear shops, record stores, etc..
3. Design elements reflective of the downtown core should be repeated down Curtis Street and throughtout the Galleria to strongly tie the Denver Center with the downtown core. These elements can Include lighting, paving, plant materials, signage, and street furniture. This does not mean that elements used downtown are automatically to be duplicated within the Galleria, but rather that they be considered when making choices.
4. The Galleria Is essentially untouched since It was built and needs to experience the layering of designs which makes for a richness of environment. Unlike a shopping mall which has one designer or motif, and often has a forced or "quaint" appearance, the Galleria should encourage a variety of designs and storefronts....perhaps allowing each shop owner to develop up to ten feet 1n front of his shop thereby "spilling" out of Its doors and into the "street"
area. A flower shop might have a display of bright flowers, a clothes shop some racks of special designs, a dance-wear shop a figure In tights and leotard-, a coffee shop outdoor tables with brightly colored umbrellas or banners. Some basic guidelines would act as a conmon thread to weave a colorful and varied tapestry and the "layering" of design would begin.
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55


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5. The strong architectural simplicity of the galleria must be respected when creating the design. Kn1ck>Knack, frilly or fussy details are to be avoided. A special emphasis on a comfortable pedestrian oriented design would allow for benches or seating areas for two or more people, plant materials and archltectual sculpture which provides a human scale to the monumental buildings, and directional signage are some elemnets which can accommodate this goal.
6. The Introduction of elements which Invite spontaneous theater and Invite street entertainers should be Incorporated Into the design. Small staging platforms, participatory art and sculpture, and places for people to sit and watch are some needs. Regularly scheduled events of a casual nature could be programmed throughout, the warm months such as painting, sidewalk chalk drawings, foreign food street vendors, ad Infinitum. By having a continuous flow of street activities, people will get used to going there just to see what's happening as they have become accustomed to doing at Larimer Square. Host of these types of activities do not cost, and generally should generate business for local shops and restaurants. It Is mostly a question of a change of attitude on the part of all those In charge of the Galleria and a sincere effort to Involve a wide segment of society In Its programming. Certainly
the world theater festival of the summer of 1982 was a step towards this goal. '
NiGfHTirt meaiY
Hlfiftf T IH THE CITY LCCKi> flHE. V\1MAC COV\ ES 5HLUMCT OUT INTO THE STREET COUPES GC5 WAlTZJHCr 1H TIHIe..
Johi Mitchell
J


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zone 3
Zone #3 1$ the park adjacent to the Denver Center for Performing Arts
1.
2.
The most Important consideration when designing this park 1s Its special nature. First, 1t Is the part next to the theater complex, and secondly It 1s In a very urban setting. The park design should contribute to the total environment strived for by the theater complex and compliment Its use.
3.
Like the Galleria Itself, the park should contain elements which draw people Into It.......
seating, participatory art and sculpture, and special plant materials. For example, trees can be pollarded to reflect the archltecure of the complex and stand as winter sculptures when their leaves are gone. Or some hard surfaces for promenading, skating or bike-riding would be appropriate to both Its need for theater and Its need to address Its urban setting.
The park Is also the "front yard" to the core of downtown and the Sixteenth Street Mall. It 1s seen clearly from Speer Boulevard and the Aurarla Campus. It should Invite the public to walk through it, through the galleria and down Curtis Street to the retail and financial sections of Denver.
The grand stairway leading down from the theater complex to the park begs for a logical conclusion. Currently It ends In an expanse of grass and seems to go nowhere. It Is a strong physical element which needs to "land" somewhere other than an open, devoid area.
The park should be designed with the co-operation and approval of the theatrical community. With their understanding of theater, staging and set design combined with the skills of a landscape architect, architect and planner, the park could act as a strong positive addition to both the theater complex and the city park system.
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57



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PROCESS CHART
59


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DENVER CENTER
CURTIS ST.
and hunanizing the pedestrian environment are crucial. Other suggestions include making Curtis a two-way street (to give that magnificent view to the motorist) and balancing the pedestrian/ automobile space ratio.
SCALE
ZONE 1
I






The interior of the galleria can be a patchwork of small shops with a common thread such as a color mural running along the ceiling line of the stores. Pedestrian amenities such as a notice kiosk, seating, plants, and theatrical art. The main attraction remains the programming of the space.


r
64
This park can compliment the grand entrance provided by the stairway from the garage Into the gdllerla. It can provide a needed area for the theater goer to be seen", thereby enhancing the purpose of the buildings. During those times when no theater 1s playing Inside, the park can be closed to traffic and act as a pedestrian stage for street or impromptu theater.




conclusion
In conclusion, I would like to say that there 1s no room for those who would point to the Galleria of the Denver Center with despair. It Is still a very young complex and needs some time to develop and grow. Additionally, there Is not room for those who are unwilling to face Its challenge or who are overwhelmed by Its complexities. Throughout my research on the subject of the Galleria, I was constantly astounded at the number of different agencies, departments, comnittees, etc. who have an Interest 1n or partial control of this space. I met with many people who had a strong passionate desire to Improve the situation and I met with some to whom It was a white elephant they would just as soon forget. Until It becomes the priority project of one of the Interested groups, I believe no action will be taken. And, until then, 1t remains empty, desolate, and unproductive-----an opportunity left to no advantage.
But the potential is tremendous...it is a very hopeful situation. It will require a great and coordinated commitment to common goals by a great diversity of groups.
The rewards are astronomical in scope. The chance to add a bit of poetry to the city, to (as Lawerence Halprin puts it) choreograph the pedestrian movement through the
streets, to add something special....uniquely Denver.....uniquely theater.... this precious
opportunity must be grasped.
ITS ALWfi> Too HooH Of TOO lATe. FACT 12>. THfc TfApH DOriTdOr\E. OH TTW\E FOR. HOBOOr.
KEHNETH PMCH6N


XK> hot ee atkaid>: either or tour ideas- no katier How wild og.of the \deas of others. no hatter How D15TURBINCF FEAR IS THE KTOniER. or ALU INTOLERANCE-. WHILE NO TRUELY TOLERANT HAN OAN EVER. feE- -AFRAID, AND THE ARTIST N|lK>T ee UNC0H\PRll1lSlN&LY TOLERANT.
PAUL. J. GyR.lU-0
During the course of my thesis project I spoke with a number of people who had either special or general Interests In the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Often our discussions would turn toward "brainstorming" Ideas of what could occur at the Galleria to make It a more viable outdoor theater space.
I offer this 11st to stir the Imagination of anyone who might be in a position to act on these suggestions and also to anyone who might work towards making dreams become reality. Inspiration Is a key Ingredlant to the theater.
-add some living quarters (perhaps above the proposed retail space 1n the galleria) for an "artist In residence" or two. They would live at the Center and have responsibility for promoting their art and performing. A musician could have a studio to teach and also give concerts 1n the galleria for noon-time lunch crowds.
-provide an hour of free parking 1n the garage to anyone who has a proof of purchase from a galleria shop for more than $1.00.
-schedule free activities during lunch times and on summer weekends such as......
-bands, dancers, and short plays
-sidewalk chalk drawing by a group of school children from a city neighborhood -large mural drawing on butcher paper (drawn by school children or drawn at a special event Intermission) and hund 1n the galleria for a short time. Here the idea 1s
the Intrigue of temporary art.....done spontaneously and displayed for a week or so.
This way, many people could have their art on display and the scene would be constantly changing.
-food.....the galleria will never take on a hustle-bustle ambiance until there 1s
a wide variety of restaurants and places to enjoy eating out. They should range from elegant restaurants to 50$ finger foods sold from a push cart. City health regulations need to be adjusted to allow its citizens to enjoy this pleasure while still maintaining a high set of standards. Quincy Market In Boston provides a fine example of this. The key Is quality. If the best fudge or the finest Chateaubriand or the best pizza slice, 1n the city were all available at the galleria, 1t
67


would be crowded. And some outdoor cafe's or beer gardens would top it all off.
-Have a series of outdoor puppet shows on Saturday afternoons which include not only Punch and Judy type shows, but also the eighteen foot puppets (from a production of Oedipus) recently eshibited at the Colorado Historical Museum. Puppetry is a natural for the galleria and much more sophisticated than most people know.
-Have story telling time for school children and a bard to tell stories similar to those at the Colorado Renaissance fair held in Larkspur. They are particularly adept at encouraging crowd participation.
The list could go on and on.....the only limitation to the magic of
theater in Denver is our imagination.
IMAGINATION & MCPH- Ih*| BopTANTTHAN KMOVILCOGE:. f&p. KNOWLEDGE. 15 LIMITED, WHEREAS IMASriNAnoN EME*ACBS IttE-EMTISLE. WORLD, £>lMHLATlriGr pfKGtK&SS, GIVING &IK3H TO EVOLUTION.
ALBERT ElNSTEIN


BIBLIOGRAPHY
Alexander, Ishikawa, Silverstein, Jacobson. A Pattern Language. Oxford University Press: New York. 1977
Blake, Peter. God's Own Junkyard. New York: Holt Rinehart and Winston, 1979
Brettcl, Richard, Historic Denver. Denver, Colorado: Historic Denver, 1979.
Clay, Grady. Close Up, How to Read the American City. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1980.
De Chiara, Joseph/Koppleman, Lee. Urban Planning and Design Criteria. 2nd ed. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1975.
Denver Planning Office, Transportation Planning Section. "The Pedestrian in Downtown Denver". Denver, Denver Planning Office, 1978.
The Denver Post. 11-19-76
11- 26-76
12- 26-76 1-7-77 1-11-77
1- 15-77
2- 18-77
3- 10-77
3-11-77
5-1-77
8-9-77
8-24-77
5-26-78
7-13-79
1-31-80
12-28-81
Denver Colorado.
Chris Whitback. "Study Finds Developer for DCPA Gallaria is Vital."
George Lane. "No DCPA Funding, Mayor Reiterates."
Chris Whitback. "DCPA, City Split on Control Issue."
Tim McGovern. "Dispute Continues to Impede DCPA Agreement." Tim McGovern. "Way Apparently Cleared to Build Three Theater Complex."
Tim McGovern. "DCPA Negotiations Meet Anothe Snag."
Tim McGovern. "Two Pledges to Ease DCPA Fund Gap."
Helen Cass. "Groundbreaking Signals Start for DCPA Theater Complex."
Tim McGovern. DCPA Trustees Get Memo on Demands."
Tim McGovern. "Some Sour Notes Heard in Arts Comples Ordtestration."
Tim McGovern. "DCPA Asks Denver for Aid in Funding."
Tim McGovern. "McNichols oks $140,000 for Concert Hall." George Lane. "Denver Arts Center Reported on Schedule." "Theater Comples Approved."
Bob Thelkeld. "Plans Debated for Redesigning of Speer Blvd." Staff. "Concert Hall Plans Disclosed."
Downtown Denver Inc., "Proposal for Integrating Arts into a Convention Center Expansion." Civic Ventures Inc., 1978.
Halprin, Lawrence. Cities. New York: Reinhold Book Corporation, 1963.
Heckscher, August. Open Spaces, the Life of American Cities. New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1977.
Hoover, George. "The Muchow Report". Denver, Colorado: Muchow and Assoc.:1976. Malt, Harold Lewis. Furnishing the City. United States: McGraw Hill Inc.,1970. Muchow Assoc.. "Pre Architectual Study". Denver: 1972.


Rudofsky, Bernard. Streets for People: A Primer for Americans. Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company,inc.,1969.
S intends, John. Landscape Architecture. A Shaping of Man's Natural Environment. New York: McGraw Hill Book (!o., 196T. * '
Whyte. William H.. The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. Washington: The Conservation Foundation, 1980.


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