The South Ramp at Red Rocks will be demolished once there is enough information to build a new one.

Back in July 2019 – which seems a century ago – there was a lengthy Denver Landmark Preservation Commission meeting to deal with the demolishing of the South Ramp at Red Rocks. It was a way for people who were heading up to the amphitheatre, but the ramp was growing old, and city officials were concerned that the ramp was not totally safe because of corrosion. Only 30 people were allowed at one time to walk up the ramp.

This process began in May 2019, and the commissioners asked for more information pertaining to the city’s request to demolish the South Ramp. The discussion was moved to July 2019, and with it came a lengthy assessment report. But there was still no replacement plan, which seemed  not to make much sense. It would be like selling your home, and moving into your car.  

So, the demolition was denied, and the commissioners, and those speaking on the issue,  called for a public hearing on the ramp once a replacement plan was introduced. Amazingly: The commission also voted to include the South Ramp in the city’s landmark designation of Red Rocks, which is more narrow than the National Historical Landmark designation.

So, that’s the back story, and sorry it was so convoluted, but as of Tuesday, February 16, 2021, things are moving again. 

The demolition of the ramp was approved, and then things moved along to discuss the South Ramp Pedestrian Bridge Replacement Plan. There will be some changes, with more reliance on concrete, since some of the steel of the old ramp – which was either built in 1949 or 1954 (hmm, great records) – was causing corrosion. 

Phase l was approved by the commission to demolish the ramp. Next up, at some point, Phase II: Mass, Form and Context will take up the concept of the new ramp, which will again go before the landmark commission. 

In the meantime: It was apparent that many preservation stakeholders had input into the new bridge. It’s noted that there was a curve going up the ramp and a different profile at the top where the top ramp will be cemented into the rocks. The handrails in place now date to 2000, but the designers (and others) want to go back into history to replicate the original handrails. 

There are few changes here and there, especially relying more on concrete, but now that the ramp is a contributing element to Red Rocks, things are thinking more about the design. And the city will be photographing the existing ramp to keep records of the ramp that so many people have walked up to the amphitheatre.  After all, one of the commissioners asked about the intended lifespan of the existing structure. Apparently, it will be about 75 years old when it is demolished – for something that was perhaps designed to last for 50 years.

The links below include documents and staff reports for both the demolition of the ramp and the proposed Infill: Mass, Form and Context. Love the photographs.


Infill: Mass Form and Context 

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