Largest-ever Donation to Museum Catalyzes North Building Revitalization
The Denver Art Museum (DAM) today announced a transformational, $25 million gift from Board Chairman J. Landis Martin and wife Sharon Martin to revitalize and enhance the museum’s iconic, Gio Ponti-designed North Building. In recognition of the Martins’ milestone gift to DAM, the largest standalone financial gift in the museum’s history, the building will be renamed the J. Landis and Sharon Martin Building upon project completion. The revitalization of the North Building will be led by Fentress Architects and Machado Silvetti with a completion goal by the building’s 50th anniversary in 2021.
“The revitalization of the North Building will unify the Denver Art Museum campus, celebrate Gio Ponti’s iconic design and ensure the building’s relevance and stewardship for the next 50 years,” said Christoph Heinrich, the Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the museum. "The Martins’ longstanding commitment to our campus, major programs, special exhibitions and collection acquisitions has elevated the museum to a national and international destination. Their lead gift in renovating the North Building, a Civic Center anchor and modernist gem, will launch a new era for the museum and ensure the highest quality programs and service to more than 700,000 annual visitors.”
The North Building was designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti and Denver-based James Sudler Associates and opened in 1971. Its seven-story silhouette is celebrated as one of the first-ever high-rise art museums, and is the only completed building in North America by the renowned Italian modernist.
“The North Building is considered one of the most significant objects in the museum’s collection, and our family is honored to support the much-needed rehabilitation required to bring it into the 21st century,” said Lanny Martin. “The Denver Art Museum is a beacon of creativity, representing the incredible depth of the cultural community in our region and it is critical that we continue to invest in it for the benefit of the entire community.”
The North Building project, estimated to cost approximately $150 million, will for the first time unify the Museum’s campus and upgrade the North Building in alignment with the Hamilton Building’s 21st-century systems and art experiences, including expanded resources for youth and school groups, additional gallery space and improved visitor circulation.
Key project elements include bringing the museum’s renowned educational programs to the center of the campus, expanding gallery spaces for growing collections, including Design and Western American art, completing Ponti’s original vision for visitor access to stunning 7th-floor views, exterior site improvements and updating environmental and other key systems to current-generation technology. The project is in the initial design phase, and the goal is to begin construction by the end of 2017, completing the project by 2021. Additional project details will be released in 2017.
In 2013, the museum began structural assessment and feasibility studies to better understand the institutional needs and opportunities for renovating the North Building. Those details were used to inform a 2015 master-planning process, led by Tryba Architects, to imagine possibilities for the structure. Early this year, the formal design process began with architectural partners Fentress Architects of Denver and Boston-based Machado Silvetti. The goals of the project include stewardship of the building, connecting the campus and the neighborhood, and celebrating learning and engagement at the heart of the museum’s goal of delivering awe-inspiring art experiences to the community.