Urban Design Studio Civitas Part of Team Envisioning Master Plan for New Denver National Western Center Cultural Destination

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A multi-disciplinary team that includes Denver urban design studio and landscape architects Civitas has been chosen to envision a National Western Center development that will transform northwestern Denver. Drawing on Denver’s rich Western heritage, including the National Western Stock Show, and partnering with cultural and scientific institutions, the gateway project will create a cultural district for the exchange of ideas, art, agriculture and science.

Longhorns parade through Denver with the National Western Stock Show, one of five institutions contributing to a National Western Center. Civitas is site planning lead for the new development.

The site’s numerous challenges include reconnecting in a positive and healthy way with Denver’s northwestern communities.

Denver-based urban design studio and strategic consultancy Civitas Inc. will play a key role in envisioning an active year-round future for Denver’s new National Western Center development, announced Civitas founding principal Mark Johnson. Civitas is part of the multi-disciplinary team led by Parsons Brinckerhoff, Inc. selected by the City and County of Denver to create a coherent master plan that embraces the site’s deeply authentic Western heritage while reconnecting with historically disenfranchised northwestern neighborhoods and the area’s South Platte River environment.

Cultural and scientific institutions partnering in the new district include the City and County of Denver, National Western Stock Show, Colorado State University, History Colorado and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. For Johnson, a starting point involves examining the 100-year trajectories of these partnering institutions to determine a future for the site that is “aligned with the organic direction of all five institutions, plus the neighborhoods.”

While finding ways to create significance for the new district on a local, regional, national and even global level is crucial, Johnson, whose responsibilities include serving as site planning lead for the National Western Center development, explains that the process takes place simultaneously on two tracks. “We are looking at how we create synergies and find intersections that will invite, inform and entertain the public in a vibrant way year-round,” he says. “At the same time we are dealing with all of the very complex physical issues of where does it go and how.”

The site’s numerous challenges include reconnecting in a positive and healthy way with Denver’s northwestern communities of Elyria, Swansea and Globeville, as well as dealing with logistical and environmental challenges raised by the area’s more than a century-long industrial history that ranges from mining and smelters to stockyards and packing houses, all crisscrossed by five different rail lines.

The immense scale of the project and multiple moving parts are what ultimately intrigued Johnson. “I’ve worked for 18 years in the Platte Valley and 26 years with Stapleton in ways that have transformed and benefitted Denver, and the love of that work has sent me around the globe for similarly transformative urban design projects. This is the first opportunity to come along in recent years that promises to create that level of benefit here at home.”

About Civitas:
With a core purpose of “creating healthier cities,” Civitas is an idea-based practice of urban designers, architects and landscape architects engaged in strategic planning for urban change and project design for built works. A consultancy and a design studio, Civitas advises on a wide range of strategies for re-imagining urban life and places. For more information, visit Civitas online at http://www.civitasinc.com.

Contact Information:
ilana Fowler, Civitas, Inc., marketing(at)civitasinc(dot)com, 303.571.0053; Darla Worden, WordenGroup Public Relations, darla(at)wordenpr(dot)com, 307.777.7667

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Darla Worden
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