Review: The Denver Art Museum – A Must-see Denver Landmark

By John Georgis

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Located in Downtown Denver, the Denver Art Museum’s Frederick C. Hamilton Building is an award winning, architectural treasure designed by a world-famous designer. Impressively, it houses more than 68,000 works of art. The museum is especially famous for its vast collection of American Indian art – however, it has amassed a large collection of Western American, Asian, African, Oceanic, Columbian, and Spanish Colonial art as well.


The 146,000 square foot Hamilton building was designed by Daniel Libeskind, a famous Polish architect and second child of Polish Jews and Holocaust survivors. He is known for many famous buildings including being selected to help oversee the rebuilding of the World Trade Center.

Libeskind explains his vision for the Hamilton building as being inspired by the light, the mountains and the faces of Denver citizens.

Unique Design

The building’s design with its sharp angles and complex geometry is meant to look like the jagged Rocky Mountain peaks. While the mountains are certainly impressive, the building’s exterior hides the magnificent 2,740-tons of steel that makes up the superstructure. This interior framework pulls together a large collection of leaning braced frames and trusses. There is even a 194-foot prow that extends over the avenue below by 167 feet. Remarkably none of the 20 architectural planes used in its design are parallel or perpendicular to one another. It also has 9,000 titanium panels that reflect the sunshine that is abundant in Colorado.

A bit of Denver tourism trivia is that the building rises in height. The building literally expands to the north from two stories to four.

This complex design resulted in the building winning the Presidential Award of Excellence in the American Institute of Steel Construction’s 2007 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel (IDEAS2) awards program. This high honor is bestowed on these buildings for their outstanding achievement in structural engineering.

Construction Complexity

While the building is a marvel, the construction could also be considered a marvel. Using integrated teamwork techniques and 3-D Building Information Modeling (BIM), the designers were able to use “virtual construction” to determine conflicts prior to workers starting on the construction. This process helped them overcome any challenges with the unique design and speed along the process of installing the 3,100 pieces of steel.

Whether you visit the building to see the impressive collection of art work or simply just to see the building itself, the Frederick C. Hamilton building is a Denver treasure.

Author John Georgis enjoys writing about the many sites and wonders in Denver, Colorado, – perhaps that’s why John founded, a Denver bus tour company.

About Bloice Davison

Bloice C. Davison, III blogs, travels occasionally, and takes pictures. He has experience in the telecommunications, banking, retailing and outside sales businesses. He is a former fly-fishing guide and fly-fishing instructor for the Orvis Company. He served as an Aircraft Maintenance Specialist in the United States Air Force. A 1988 graduate of Virginia Tech, he also has a BS in statistics from the Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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