Sixteenth Street Mall

Year Listed: 2009
County: Denver County
Construction Date: 1982
Threat When Listed: Demolition
Status: ALERT
 
 

The mall was designed by the internationally renowned architectural firm I.M. Pei & Partners of New York. The main features of I.M. Pei’s design include polychromatic patterned granite pavers, wide sidewalks and a central tree lined corridor. The mall opened on October 4, 1982 and, on that day, it attracted over 200,000 people. Today the Mall is rated as the top visitor attraction in the metropolitan area. Its free shuttles serve an average of 55,000 commuters and tourists per day.

Pedestrian and vehicular traffic creates considerable wear and tear that jeopardizes the original design and materials. Concern over the future of the Mall arose in mid-2008 because the Regional Transportation District (RTD) expressed interest in removing the pedestrian median and replacing the intricate pattern of granite pavers in order to address recurring and expensive maintenance concerns. The proposals, if implemented, will destroy key aspects of the original I. M. Pei design. In May of 2008 a panel of experts from the Urban Land Institute advised Denver to fix, not change, the 16th Street Mall. They declared the Mall “public art of the highest international quality.”

The section 106 process has a planned reconfiguration of the mall. The plan is to reroute the bus traffic through the center of the mall, removing the medians, and replacing and re-configuring the existing canopy with new tree species. The status of the new paving material is unknown, but it is likely that the original granite will be replaced. The diamondback pattern of the mall will likely be retained. The site needs continued input from CPI, Historic Denver, and other partners that are sensitive to I.M. Pei’s original design. It is possible that the redesign will be counted as a loss.

Additional Links:

Historic Denver, Inc’s Efforts to Save the 16th Street Mall

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