History Colorado Center
200,000 square feet
Hensel Phelps Construction Company
Trammell Crow Company
It was a project 133 years in the making. While the ground was broken on the new History Colorado Center in Denver in August 2009 and the opening ceremony held in April 2012, the museum was the result of years of planning and financing on behalf of the Colorado Historical Society, originally established in 1879.
Designed by David Tryba of Tryba Architects and inspired by the diverse cultural and geological history of the Centennial State, the four-story, 200,000-square-foot structure responds to the pragmatic architectural vocabulary of urban Denver while still evoking a sense of Colorado’s rugged landscape. This is thanks in large part to the 5,327 pieces of Indiana Limestone that Hensel Phelps Construction Company fit precisely to the museum’s exterior after crafting an infrastructure comprising 13,380 cubic yards of concrete and 9.7 miles of piping and HVAC ductwork.
The completed museum contains nearly 50,000 square feet of gallery space, 33,000 square feet of collection space, a restaurant, an atrium, a rooftop terrace, an auditorium, and administrative offices for the Office of the State Archaeologist and the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. The showpiece of the structure is a 40’ x 60’ aerial map of Colorado on the floor of the atrium, designed by artist Steven Weitzman and made of FOTERA terrazzo tiles that took more than 9,000 work hours to arrange and install.
Finished with bamboo and terrazzo flooring, native plantings and grasses, locally sourced wood and stone, and recycled building materials, the History Colorado Center is also anticipating LEED Gold certification—a fitting distinction for a museum historicizing some of the nation’s most popular swaths of protected natural land. ABQ