Year Listed: 2009
County: Denver County
Construction Date: 1982
Threat When Listed: Demolition
Status: IN PROGRESS
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 Downtown Denver Partnership spearheaded efforts to develop a rehabilitation and treatment plan for the Sixteenth Street Mall, with support from Colorado Preservation, Inc. and a number of organizations including, RTD, the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District, City and County of Denver, and Historic Denver, Inc. The recommended alternative work plan seeks to rehabilitate rather than replace the distinctive granite pavers that define the Mall and utilize an improved system of installing the pavers to minimize movement caused by heavy bus traffic. Instead of removing the pavers as planned, the city began the process of turning over and reusing the existing stones.