Record Reveals: Curtis Fentress on Denver
Curtis Fentress / Photo © Jason Knowles
Colorado State Capitol / Courtesy Wikipedia
Larimer Square / Courtesy Wikipedia
Oxford Cruise Room bar / Courtesy Oxford Hotel
Curtis Fentress is the founding principal of Fentress Architects, which he started in 1980, after stints in the offices of I.M. Pei and Kohn Pedersen Fox. In 2010, the American Institute of Architects honored Fentress with its highest award for public architecture, the Thomas Jefferson Award. His firm has designed more than a dozen airport projects, including the Denver International Airport in Colorado and the Incheon International Airport outside Seoul, South Korea. He has also designed numerous museums, convention centers, and government buildings.
Larimer Square is close to the Convention Center and is a great place to go and walk around.
Civic Center Park is a great place to see buildings from different periods. I recommend taking a walk around. It’s an opportunity to see some great architecture by well-known architects, both old and new. Within a small radius, there’s City Hall, the Colorado State Capitol, the Denver Public Library (renovated by Michael Graves in 1995), the Denver Art Museum (DAM)’s North Building (opened in 1971 and designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti), DAM’s expansion by Daniel Libeskind (2006), and the Clyfford Still Museum by Allied Works Architecture (2011).
There is also the new Colorado Judicial Center building near the state capital designed by my firm.
There are some interesting landmark buildings, particularly the Holy Ghost Catholic Church (built in 1923, designed by architect J.B. Benedict). It now has a 46-story office building wrapping around it at 1999 Broadway (1985), which my firm also designed. It’s an interesting mix of old and new. When I give people a driving tour of downtown, I usually drive people by that.
There’s also 17th Street, known as the “Wall Street of the Rockies.” There are a lot of office buildings and hotels, and at 17th and Broadway, there is the first major project by I. M. Pei in the United States. It’s now a Wells Fargo bank. Behind it is a 50-story tower, the Wells Fargo Center (1983), which Philip Johnson designed.
The Brown Palace Hotel, a historic hotel dating to 1889, located at 17th Street and Broadway, is right across the street from I. M. Pei’s first U.S. project. It has a historic atrium that's quite interesting, and it has an old bar inside called Ship Tavern. It’s a great place for a roast beef sandwich and beer. It was designed by architect Frank Edbrooke and it’s a historic kind of place where business people meet.
Near Union Station, the Cruise Room is in a great historic building. It’s an Art Deco bar, 60 yards from the train station, just off the Oxford Hotel lobby. Back in the day, people got off the train and went there for a few drinks. It’s a great place for martinis.
Tag, at 1441 Larimer, is in the middle of Larimer Square. It has interesting food and is not super expensive. There’s a large variety—lots of typical dishes like tacos or pot stickers, but done in a new way.
The Capital Grille is a great steak place, though it could be $150 per person.
The Peaks Lounge is at the top of the Hyatt Hotel and you can see a great view of the mountains. It's a great place to see the sunset and the city lights in the evening.
D Bar is a great dessert bar. It’s the best dessert in town. There’s great chocolate and outdoor seating.