Aurora’s Fan Fair Building in Danger of Demolition

Located at 333 Havana Street in Aurora this mid-century wonder is in danger of demolition after sitting vacant since the early 80s. The Fain Fair building was built in 1961 by well-known architect William Muchow of Denver, and engineered by the renowned Ketchum, Konkel & Hastings also of Denver. The building is an outstanding example of the Formalist style of the Modern Movement, defined by a repetitive pattern of shapes, emphasis on building form, and designed during the period 1958-1966.

The Fan Fair building was built as the first discount shopping center, similar to today’s Costco, in the Denver Metro Area drawing commerce away from the downtown core and into the suburbs, a growth trend indicative of the post World War II era. Constructed out of 36 thin-shell concrete domes in a symmetrical rectangular plan, the exterior walls are composed of poured concrete slabs, while the roof is supported by shared concrete piers formed at the intersection of each set of four domes. The perimeter of the roof, which features flared corners, is supported by tapered poured concrete flying buttresses with flared feet, extending from each valley and each corner of the building. The thin-shell concrete domes were created by using one large dome form that was created, moved, and used repeatedly to form the shell of the building.

The Fan Fair exhibits exceptional importance and is eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion G as a property that has achieved significance within the past fifty years. In addition to its historical significance, the Fan Fair building is an architecturally important resource. Many of the works by William Muchow and Milo Ketchum have already been demolished.

On November 19, 2012 the Aurora Urban Renewal Authority, made up of city council members, voted to purchase the 10.5 acre property. Officials have reported that the plan is to raze the building, with no definite plans to what the site would become.

Modern resources such as the Fan Fair building are in danger across the Nation. The preservation of these unique resources is about recognizing that the significance of historic resources does not stop at a certain point or time. As preservationists we must all work together to continue to grow and build our ethic to protect tomorrow’s past. Despite the fact that unfortunately by many standards of measurement these modern resources may not be considered “historic.” However, these resources are undeniably a part of the fabric that defines our communities.

In conclusion, we would like to leave you with a quote from an article in the Boston Globe, ” In a world of diminishing resources, it makes less and less sense to demolish and replace even a difficult and controversial piece of architecture.”



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