Skyline Park Pavilion
Colorado Construction Gold Hard Hat Award, Architectural Design
In 2003, The City of Denver approved a plan for the redesign of Skyline Park by New York City landscape architect Thomas Balsley. Few elements of Halprin’s original design were saved in this redesign. The resulting plan was highly controversial amongst City administrators who wanted to enliven the neglected park and the preservation community who wanted to save this important social statement. Due to limited construction funding, many of the vertical enhancements proposed in the park’s redesign were left un-built. One such element was a pavilion to provide public restrooms, concessions, and an information booth to tourists. In 2006 a collaboration of the Downtown Denver Partnership and the Denver Parks and Recreation Department commissioned the design and construction of this missing component.
Skyline Park’s new design was conceived by Balsley as a series of interwoven ribbons-ribbons of new and old elements and materials. The design of the pavilion was a continuation of that thought. The pavilion features a ribbon of the previous Halprin elements that had been for the most part removed. These include the use of a long wall of red Colorado sandstone buffering an adjacent ramp to a below grade parking garage; a ribbon of shade from the low horizontal roof canopy that unites the park’s tree canopies; and a ribbon of green lawns and colorful planted areas that are applied throughout the park and tie everything together.
The pavilion totals less than 600 sq. ft. of occupied area but provides a welcomed oasis to park users. The placement of the pavilion was positioned to align with the historic and vertically prominent Daniel’s and Fisher Tower on the opposite side of the 16th Street Mall. The building was constructed over an existing two level below grade parking structure requiring skillful orchestration of the structural elements and mechanical penetrations. The public restrooms are constructed of stainless steel and black glazed concrete masonry units. The concession stand and information kiosk feature large operable windows, stainless steel and stone. The pavilion’s materials palette was selected for its durability, low maintenance, permanence, and connectivity to the materials of the park. The pavilion’s spaces open to the adjacent outdoor plaza and raised seating areas. The thin profile canopy provides a respite from Colorado’s intense summer sun. A tall marker of sandstone features a backlit “i” as a reference to visitors seeking direction and information on the lively pedestrian oriented 16th Street Mall. The lighting of the pavilion from the ground plane to the underside of the canopy was intended to be a subtle beacon at night.
The system of intermingling layers – of elements old, new and adapted unites the pavilion and park as a vibrant, successful and beloved public space in the heart of Downtown Denver.