Exterior of the remodeled Martin Building project.

Building Inspiration

Renovating Ponti's Icon into the Martin Building

Please note: The reopening of the Martin Building and the Sie Welcome Center has been postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19. We are following guidance from government and public health officials for flattening the curve of infections in our community.

History

The Martin Building was designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti and Denver-based James Sudler Associates. Its 7-story silhouette is celebrated as one of the first high-rise art museums and is the only completed building in North America designed by the renowned Italian modernist.

Overview

Fentress Architects of Denver and Boston-based Machado Silvetti were selected to design and administer the construction of the project, following a master plan study developed by Tryba Architects.

Following two years of hard construction to create a welcoming, engaging, and united campus, the museum announced in November 2019 that its construction phase is complete. Current and future site work will include exterior plaza construction, and collection move in, and gallery installation for the summer reopening.

Thanks to the thousands of visitors that experience transformative encounters with art each year, the DAM is in the top 20 most attended art museums in North America. Home to award-winning exhibitions and top-tier programs for all ages, the DAM is a place for shared, hands-on experiences, an appreciation for diverse cultures, and personal expression. It is a beacon for creativity and innovation, the very qualities that make our city great.

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 completion of the Martin Building project will expand the museum’s ability to serve the community, welcome guests to our city, and preserve and present priceless works of art from cultures around the world and throughout history for generations to come.

Renovation Milestones

 

Staff brainstorming and planning begins.

 

The DAM conducts feasibility study and needs assessment.

 

The DAM begins fundraising for the North Building Project.

 

The DAM selects design team of Curtis Fentress Architects of Denver and Machado Silvetti of Boston to design the North Building with expanded, welcoming public spaces.

 

The DAM announces North Building project, its scope and a $25 million lead gift from Lanny and Sharon Martin.

 

Collections staff begin the lengthy process of moving more than 50,000 artworks to safe storage offsite.

 

The DAM hosts free architect forum to share design plans with members and the public.

 

Denver voters overwhelmingly support Elevate Denver Bond funding for infrastructural upgrades at the DAM and several other cultural facilities in the city.

 

The DAM hosts community free day and celebration of the North Building, including performances and hands-on activities to say "See You Later" to the North Building prior to renovation.

 

All onsite activity—including school tours, exhibitions, collection presentations, and events—move to the Hamilton Building.

 

The DAM celebrates groundbreaking of the North Building renovation project.

 

Ongoing renovation work includes new plumbing, HVAC, access upgrades, technology, insulation, and lighting, as well as construction of the Sie Welcome Center.

 

Anticipated reopening of all spaces in the North Building, under the new name Lanny and Sharon Martin Building.

Lit up hallway of the newly renovated Martin Building

Reopening Events

The Martin Building and the Sie Welcome Center will reopen in 2021. We look forward to sharing more details about plans for the reopening events when they are available.

Lit up ceiling in the new Martin Building

Restaurant Information

The Martin Building will feature a new restaurant and a quick-service café. Museum visitors will have more spaces to dine and more choices during their museum visit.

The Ponti

Through a collaboration with James Beard Award winner and celebrated Denver chef Jennifer Jasinski, the concept of The Ponti was born. Serving as the restaurant’s consulting chef, Jasinski will develop menu concepts, as well as help select and train the restaurant’s culinary staff. The Ponti will combine art and dining, presenting a locally-sourced and inspired menu with high standards of sustainability.

The Ponti’s distinctive offerings will include an emphasis on vegetables, utilizing ancient grains and heirloom legumes, complemented by handmade pastas, fish, and meat. The seasonal menus offered at The Ponti will align with the high standards of sourcing and sustainability for which Jasinski is known. Designed by Denver-based firm BOSS.architecture in collaboration with Jessica Doran Interiors, The Ponti will boast an expansive outdoor terrace, as well as indoor public and private dining spaces spanning a total of 3,715 square feet.

Café Gio

In addition to The Ponti, the museum will offer quick service casual dining at Café Gio. With visitor spaces also designed by BOSS.architecture and Jessica Doran Interiors, Café Gio will be located across the main hall from The Ponti on level one of the welcome center. Patrons of the café will be able to enjoy both indoor and outdoor seating, with a 1,273-square-foot interior, and a 1,088-square-foot terrace. Café Gio will be open seven days a week during regular museum hours.

Nighttime outside view of the circular Sie Welcome Center structure

Sie Welcome Center

Featuring ticketing, guest services, and two new dining options for visitors, the Sie Welcome Center will complement the Martin and Hamilton Buildings, and complete the campus. Designed with a nod to Ponti, the 50,000-square-foot elliptical-shaped structure was designed by architecture partners Fentress Architects of Denver and Machado Silvetti of Boston. Saunders Construction of Denver served as the general contractor on the project.

Lit up ceiling in the new Martin Building

Sturm Grand Pavilion

The second level of the welcome center is the Sturm Grand Pavilion, which encompasses more than 10,000-square-feet of flexible event and programming space enclosed by 25-foot-tall floor to ceiling glass panels, engineered to provide structural integrity. During museum hours, the space will serve as Family Central, a flexible public space with hands-on activities. The Sturm Grand Pavilion also will be available for event rentals, along with several additional new event spaces in the Martin Building.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Martin Building project will expand the museum’s ability to serve the community, welcome guests to our city, and preserve and present priceless works of art from cultures around the world and throughout history for generations to come.

You can find answers to frequently asked questions about the Martin Building project below. If you have further questions not answered in these sections, please email us at info@denverartmuseum.org.

Building Renovation FAQ

What is the Martin Building Project?

An architectural gem in the heart of Denver’s Golden Triangle neighborhood, the museum’s North Building, renamed the Martin Building, is nearing its 50th birthday. The vision for renovating the iconic downtown structure is to unify the museum campus to serve audiences reflective of our shared community; to illuminate collections; to highlight the museum’s exemplary education programs, and to deliver excellent programs in contemporary spaces. Scheduled to reopen in phases starting in 2020 and fully reopening at the end of 2021, the completed project will include the addition of a new welcome center, expanded public gallery spaces, flexible event spaces, and significant outdoor improvements. Updates to the Martin Building in this project will include critical safety and operations systems, replacing aging infrastructure and equipment to enable continued public service for the next 50 years.

What does the renovation mean for the community and its visitors?

The completed Martin Building renovation will unify the museum campus to better serve a broad spectrum of audiences and community needs; to illuminate collections; to highlight the museum’s exemplary education programs, and to deliver excellent programs in contemporary spaces. The museum serves more than 700,000 visitors per year, half of them attending for free, including all visitors 18 and under who enjoy free general admission every day thanks to the DAM’s Free for Kids program. The improvements in the North Building project will enable the museum to better and more safely serve the community, including school groups and visitors with different abilities.

When will the campus be completely reopened?

All campus public spaces will be open to the public by the end of 2021. During construction, visitors can explore exhibitions, hands-on activities and artworks from every collection seven days a week in the Hamilton Building, which will be open to the public for the duration of the project. Free Days and the Free for Kids program will continue through the project.

Why did you decide to close the building all at once for the renovation?

Closing the entire building will enable the museum to work on multiple pieces of the project at a time, with the goal of completing the construction work needed in the shortest possible timeline.

Why was the North Building renamed the Martin Building?

In celebration of a $25 million lead gift from Denver Art Museum’s Board Chair, Lanny Martin and his wife, Sharon, the North Building has been renamed the Martin Building.

Who are your construction and architecture partners?

The project design was developed by the team of Fentress Architects of Denver and Machado Silvetti of Boston. Saunders is serving as our construction partner. Grundy Construction Management & Consulting serves as the Owner’s Representative for the project.

How much public money will be used for this project?

This project features a $3 million allocation from the 2007 Better Denver Bonds program to renovate the Bonfils-Stanton Gallery on Level 1 of the Martin Building. Thanks to the voters of Denver, the museum also received $35.5 million from the Our Denver General Obligation Bond. The museum is matching each public bond dollar with three privately raised dollars.

Have there been any major cost overruns, or are you still on budget and on time?

The project is both on budget and on time.

The Art FAQ

What can visitors see during construction?

The Denver Art Museum's Hamilton Building will be open to the public throughout construction with special exhibitions selection of works from the museum's collections. Please visit the museum's exhibitions page for current information.

Will the museum collections still be available to visitors, students, and scholars?

Yes, many pieces from all of our permanent collections will continue to be on view in various exhibitions in the Hamilton Building during the Martin Building project renovation, including The Light Show and Treasures of British Art: The Berger Collection.

Where are all the museum's artworks that aren't on view being stored?

Select objects from each of the museum’s collections are on view in the Hamilton Building during construction. Some pieces will be safely stored during this time, while some artworks will be accessible to the public via collaborations.

Where did the outdoor works of art go?

Outdoor artworks in the museum’s collection adjacent to the construction work were deinstalled and safely stored for the duration of the construction. The DAM’s curatorial staff is developing plans for the installation of outdoor works as the project moves forward.

When will the artworks in storage be on view again?

Now that the hard-construction phase of this project is complete, museum staff will work on moving staff office spaces, installing galleries, and moving collections back into galleries and storage. This work will take place gradually over the next several months.

The Architecture FAQ

Will the original Gio Ponti-designed structure remain intact?

The original Gio Ponti-designed building has stayed whole. The connecting corridor between the Martin Building towers and the south structure, called Silber Hall, has been partially rebuilt in order to connect to the new Sie Welcome Center, and support the build-out of the lower level, improving natural light.

Was anything demolished during construction?

The south structure, which housed the old restaurant and served as the entrance to the main building, was removed to make way for the Sie Welcome Center that will house The Ponti, a new full-service restaurant, Café Gio, a new quick-service café, an events space and a ticketing desk.

What will the Sie Welcome Center add to the museum?

The Sie Welcome Center includes 50,000 square feet on three levels, unifying the campus. Upon opening, this significant addition will feature visitor-centric amenities including a restaurant, quick-service café and improved wayfinding, along with dynamic and flexible program spaces and a state-of-the-art event space. The new space also includes expanded art storage and a purpose-built conservation lab.

How much new public space will be added to the Martin Building after its renovation?

More than 33,000 square feet of new space will be added to the Denver Art Museum when the project is complete, including expanded gallery space on level 2 and 7 of the Martin Building.

Is the museum working with community groups to gather input on design and gallery installations?

Yes, the museum is collaborating with local creatives, artists and constituent groups to gather feedback on collection presentation and how to best share this information with our communities in metro Denver and beyond. If you have suggestions for individuals or organizations we should include, please contact us at info@denverartmuseum.org.

Opening Updates FAQ

The Sie Welcome Center looks like it is done. What is the opening timeline?

The unified campus will reopen in phases, with the first phase presenting the first three floors of the Martin Building and the new Sie Welcome Center to the public. Now that construction is completed, museum staff will work to turn these new spaces into an engaging, welcoming art museum. We'll share more news in 2021.

What is the best way to get a first look inside the newly renovated spaces?

The best way to get a first look is to become a Denver Art Museum member! Museum members will be able to see reopened spaces before the official public opening moments.

Why is the museum doing a "phased" reopening?

The museum closed the north side of its campus in November 2017 to provide the most efficient construction process in terms of cost and time, while also reducing visitor inconvenience. For reopening, the museum will focus on re-installing artworks gallery by gallery. All spaces in the Martin Building are scheduled to be open by end of 2021.

How and when will the public get updates on the project?

The museum will continue to keep members and the public up to date on key project milestones on the denverartmuseum.org/martin section of our website, as well as email newsletters, blog posts, and media stories for significant milestones.