Design Metaphor

Nathaniel Merrill

Denver, CO

The Nathaniel Merrill Room was commissioned by the Denver Performing Arts Center to provide a place capable of supporting Denver’s largest theater at many levels:  a venue for patrons to meet performers after the last act, a venue for a speech, conference or teleconference, or a memorable venue for a dinner, party or wedding.  “Memorable” and “eight feet – six inches” rarely coexist in the same sentence, but the available space in the century-old historic Ellie Caulkins Opera House was set in stone.  The metaphor chosen as the spring point of this design was that of a corporate yacht – sleek, crafted, and full of tactile delights executed in an unusually tight compartment.

Stone, steel, wood, and glass provide the palette for this space to transport its occupants, despite its modest dimensions.  Each material is rendered in a monumental fashion; large slabs of stone, custom cast and colored glass, solid wood millwork, and velvet-like acoustic panels lining the space in every dimension.  LED lighting and a theater-quality sound system lends a control and precision not found in one’s daily travels.  All of this is visually anchored by a floor-to-ceiling “iceberg” of glass that is lit to recall shards of cold, blue ice in the middle of a sea of travertine.  A slab of white Carrara marble hides service elements and provides another moment in a space clad with materials that alternately hold or reflect light, every detail designed to flatter the occupant – much like the theater they have just left behind.

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