Today, I learned of the passing of Pritzker prize wining architect, Kevin Roche. He was 96 years old and passed away of natural causes on Friday, March 1st. Roche designed our theater complex, the Denver Performing Arts Complex, which was completed in 1979 and is one of the largest performing arts centers in the United States.
DPAC, as we call it here in Denver, is a late 1970’s civic architecture project that was considered highly successful for its time when people had abandoned cities for suburbs and the multi theater complex was the draw downtown Denver needed to lure people back in.
People came for shows from all over. Even as recently, a 2013 economic impact study showed that 77% of patrons came in from outside of the city. While it’s considered a successful project, its not kept up with the times, and there are significant plans in the works to update the center.
Roche was known for his use of glass. The 80 foot-high glass archway, pictured here, is the signature design element of the “Plex.” It runs the length of the center and today was covered in fresh snow as you can see in the top of this photo.
We woke up to a snowstorm in Denver this morning. I had a studio day planned of post production work mixed in with some much needed couch time, but I was inspired to bundle up and head over to DPAC to capture a few new photographs. This particular image, I feel highlights the barrel vaulted glass ceiling effectively.
To learn more about Kevin Roche’s career, Paul Goldberger wrote a wonderful piece for the New York Times that I highly recommend reading. It’s an extensive article documenting the impressive life of the architect, its one I am going to re-read as I dig deeper into understanding Kevin Roche’s work.
I am not sure where the redevelopment plans for DPAC sit, but I do hope that Kevin Roches’s building is not demolished and that its incorporated into the new plans. In my opinion, we are lucky to have it.
Mr. Roche, may you rest in peace.