Currigan Hall

Currigan Exhibition Hall, a Brutalist structure completed in 1969 with the incredible use of the space frame, a steel-truss structure using triangular forms (and also, in this case upside-down pyramidal shapes) that gave it rigidity and strength to span large areas without interior support columns. This building was then clad with steel panels that self-sealed through rusting!

The City and County of Denver held a contest in 1965 for a convention center design that was won by William Muchow Associates and architect James Ream. Here is the full stellar lineup of parties involved:

Principal designer: James Ream

Architects: William Muchow Associates, Ream, Quinn and Associates and Haller and Larson

Development team: Karl Berg, George Hoover, Edward Tower

Cheif Engineer: Michael Barrett

Engineers: Ketchum, Konkel, Ryan & Hastings (structural), McCaff & Konkel (mechanical), Swanson-Rink & Associates (electrical)

Contractors: Burkhardt Steel Co. (space trusses), J. R. Orr Construction Co. (general)

The pyramids that raise and lower within the truss are specialized lighting features that could be adjusted over each module of display space. When not in use they were raised and nested back into the space frame trusses.

Denver’s Currigan Hall, a major new exhibition and convention center, is many things simultaneously; its architects have joined in joint venture to create a strong, clear, exceptionally handsome archictural expression, a bold simple structural solution, and a building that competes with the best of its field for the business which is its livelihood.

– Architectural Record, 1970

For Denver to have such a large and beautiful James Ream design in the center of the city for 30 years was quite fortunate, indeed. I know Ream has become one of Shannon’s favorite historic architects. Here are a few James Ream houses to marvel at: the Busch House, the Sorensen House and the Varner House.

Ream also used the space frame concept for this home on Shannon’s site, the Lipman House.

Slit windows contributed additional lighting during the day.

A bridge connected Currigan Hall to the older Denver Auditorium Arena.

The view from inside the connecting bridge.

Brutalist buildings are the most misunderstood and under-appreciated of the modernist era. Despite winning awards from the American Institute of Architects and others, by the early-1980s the city was already looking to replace Currigan Hall. This model above and the photo below show one such plan from 1982. (half the city would have been in shadow!)

Currigan Hall was demolished in the early-2000s to make way for the current Colorado Convention Center.

Special thanks to Denver Eye fan Emerson Schwartzkopf who requested this post and attended his college graduation ceremonies at Currigan Hall!

This entry was posted on Friday, January 4th, 2013 at 9:28 am and is filed under Brutalist, Downtown. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Currigan Hall”

Brian Martinez January 5th, 2013 at 8:11 pm

I do remember attending a few auto shows there — some manufacturers had to set up in the basement because there wasn’t enough main floor space (perhaps one reason why the city wanted to replace it). It felt like walking through someone’s garage rather than an auto exhibit!

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