Wondering now if I had had $20Million to contribute to the construction of the wing, would my name be up there instead of Hamilton's? Probably not. I would have packed Libeskind's suitcase for him and sent him back home before committing a dime. But, then, I didn't have $20Million and, well, the rest is history.
Steven Holl is/was the architect chosen to provide Denver with its next "world class" structure, a new Justice Center that will be just down the road a piece from the Libeskind mess. If you want to take a look at Holls vision, you can visit his website and download a little presentation on his vision for the said Justice Center. It's a large file, but--I thought, at least--quite worth it. Holl's vision pleases. It would have been a truly classy addition to Denver's rapacious appetite for "world class" status. (This "world class" thing is, for me at least, amusing. What does "world class" mean in practical terms? Another Paris? New York? This is Denver, folks. And, I'm quite fond of cows and the accoutrements associated with cows, thank you very much.)
Back to Holl.
Seems Holl has pulled out of the design for the Denver Justic Center. Holl--designated by Time Magazine in 2001 as America's best architect--explains:
"The project managers for the city of Denver effectively rejected this design and did not permit the collaboration necessary for great public architecture," according to the posting. "Without an advocate for public architecture on the city management side, the city's process did not allow Steven Holl Architects to move forward on the project."James Mejia, Mayor Hickenlooper's Special Assistant tasked with coordinating the entire Justice Center project responded (with Holl's partner-in-charge answering) :
Mejia bristled at the statement and vigorously defended the city.Well, long story short, Holl has quit the project and, according to the Rocky Mountain News (from whence the above quotes have come):
"The design that he showed came with five options, none of which had our entire program in budget," he said.
Mejia said Holl's proposal was about $30 million over budget. Unlike museums and libraries, Denver's courthouse will have no post-budget private fundraising, he said.
"We can't do that for a courthouse," he said. "We just can't do it."
Chris McVoy, who was partner in charge of the project for Holl, said Denver officials came to Holl's offices in New York on June 26 and liked the preliminary design.
A month later, he said, "they said there was a broad consensus."
McVoy said representatives of the firm visited Denver on Aug. 10, and Holl presented further developments on the design, which he said was over budget but not by the amount the city is claiming.
The city asked to see a draft of the plans on Aug. 31 and for a presentation in Denver on Sept. 5, McVoy said.
"That's when the city said it was unacceptable and to come up with a new design," he said.
That's as far as it got, McVoy said. "We didn't feel it was a collaborative process."
The city of Denver will pay nearly $700,000 to an architect who quit the justice center project last week, but it will be unable to use much of his work.Whoops! Story worth following. Indeed, will Denver ever become a "world class" city? Ever?