Denver International Airport officials on January 18 launched a redesign of the airport's new hotel and transit station that modifies elements of the original plan by architect Santiago Calatrava. Last fall, the architect abruptly resigned from the project, unhappy that key portions of his design were eliminated when the budget was cut to $500 million from $650 million.
"All legal issues with Calatrava's firm have been resolved, and we can now move forward," DIA Executive Director Kim Day told Denver City Council members before they approved the changes.
The new design removes Calatrava's sweeping white-steel façade on the hotel wings and the white ribs supporting the canopy above the hotel lobby. Instead, the exterior will be built of clear, low-reflective glass, with its walls cantilevered outward at a 45° angle. A soaring glass-and-steel canopy replaces Calatrava's whale-rib design above the plaza.
The new design—led by the Denver office of Gensler working under a $35-million contract with the airport and assisted by Anderson Mason Dale Architects, Denver—retains some of Calatrava's touches. Still in place is the distinctive saddle dip at the center of the hotel, which designers say is necessary to preserve the north-and-south view corridors of the airport's famous tented roof.
"But we agreed to take Calatrava's signature elements off the design," Day says. "The massing of the hotel is well proportioned and gentle, but nothing else about it says 'Calatrava.' " DIA paid Calatrava $12.9 million for his conceptual design.
"The team is working hard to maintain a sculptural feel [for the design]," says Stu Williams, project manager for the South Terminal Redevelopment Program, which includes a 500-room Westin hotel, a new transit station, an open-air plaza between the station and the hotel, and improvements to the airport's existing baggage and concourse train systems.
The project, being built by Mortenson's Denver office, is expected to create nearly 1,000 jobs over the next three years—750 of those during construction and another 250 permanent jobs at the 14-story hotel, which will be owned by DIA and operated by Westin.
Airport revenues and general aviation bonds to be sold this fall are funding the project. The transit station must be completed within two years, and the hotel is scheduled to open in mid-2015.