The “waiting” in this instance is the fact that it’s been almost two years since the Ponti Building – now named the Martin Building – shut down operations for a massive renovation and upgrading.
At that time, it seemed as if 2021 was far away. But that is a trick of the mind: The Denver Art Museum has announced that in June 2020, several floors in the building and the new Sie Welcome Center and restaurants will be available. We’ll see the new entry spaces and the reinstalled galleries on the lower floors, and have a close-up look at the fluted glass walls in the Sie Center, which is a stunning building. The complete opening will be toward the end of 2021, marking the 50thanniversary of the building’s debut.
To signal the closing of the Ponti Building, the museum held an event for people to attend. The place was full. Rather than wait (and wait) for the old elevators, I just headed up and down in the stairwells, where there is a treat waiting: The glass tiles on the exterior of the building are gray, but in the stairwells, there are colored tiles. That’s what the photo is above; it has resided on my desktop since November 19, 2017 – just as a little reminder and a flash of red every day.
Being in that building for more than 30 years, a drive-by still makes me think of how many people in Denver were quite progressive, commissioning a vertical museum by the Italian modernist architect Gio Ponti with James Sudler Associates of Denver. The Sie Welcome Center and the renovation are being performed by Fentress Architects of Denver and Machado Silvetti of Boston. Denver’s museums and cultural buildings are quite admirable, but if some of Denver’s other civic buildings were better conceived, it would be much appreciated.
Recently, the museum offered several writers a tour of the first floor of the renovated building. The results are links to stories in Westword, Denverite, and The Denver Post; also, there are links to press releases on the partial opening and the new restaurants.