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New Denver Art Museum Reflects Rocky Mountains

A new Denver Art Museum designed by Daniel Libeskind opened to the public this year. The inspiration for the new building came from the Denver landscape, including the Rocky Mountains.

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  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Its walls push toward the sky, all sharp lines at odd angles, while a large prow extends dramatically over a downtown street. It's the new Frederic Hamilton wing of the Denver Art Museum, clad in 9,000 titanium tiles which shimmer in the western sunlight.

    This is architecture as sculpture as art, and the architect, Daniel Libeskind, says the idea came directly from the landscape.

  • DANIEL LIBESKIND, Architect:

    I was flying into Denver, and I was flying over the Rockies. And I just intuitively took out my boarding pass — I didn't have a sketch book — and I said, "This building should reflect the Rockies."

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Libeskind, best known for designing the initial master plan for the World Trade Center site, won a competition for the Denver building six years ago. At the time, he was just completing the Jewish museum in Berlin and, in Denver, saw another chance to make a bold building and a bold statement about buildings.

  • DANIEL LIBESKIND:

    I don't believe in this kind of neutral box that people are just neutral, they're walking around. People have emotions. Architecture is not, to me, only an intellectual art, you know, with just mathematics and geometry. It's how to bring those emotions into space.

    Our great civic buildings have emotions, cathedrals, and so on. So I never believed this idea of, you know, "I'm not touching anything. I'm just providing a neutral box for something." One has to take a position.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Well, clearly you have taken a position here. This is not a subtle, quiet building.

  • DANIEL LIBESKIND:

    Neither is Denver. Denver is not some quiet cow town. I talked to people, "What do they want? What kind of museum do they want?" And they all wanted a 21st-century museum. They didn't want a rehash of a 19th-century of 20th-century museum from somewhere else, not some second-rate experience here, but a first-rate experience of this beautiful place.