In the late 1980s, a stage cover was erected at Red Rocks. It was universally disliked, but it protected musicians who played electric instruments from electrocution. I’m sure money played a role in that, too. It always does in Denver.
And unfortunately, Denver’s approach to fine architecture can get really warped. Just remember the dismantling of Skyline Park, and the scraping of the hyperbolic paraboloid downtown. Poof. And then there is Red Rocks, an amphitheatre designed by Burnham Hoyt and Stanley Morse, creating a setting that is magical. But…
The city’s Arts and Venues agency now wants to remove the stage cover – it’s served its time in Colorado’s weather – and replace it with a new stage cover.
As proposed, this new stage cover will be taller, it will be wider, it will feature a strip above the stage to serve as a projection screen, and it will have a curvy, translucent white cover. From the renderings submitted to the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission, it appears to hinder views of the Stage Rock and the Denver skyline below. (The image above is from the application to erect a new stage cover.)
As of today, this proposal is on the agenda for the Commission’s meeting on Tuesday, May 21, beginning at 1 p.m. in the Webb Building. The funding for building this new stage cover and other items comes from the city’s 2017 Elevate bonds.
The Friends of Red Rocks are advocates for Red Rocks remaining Red Rocks. They are still quite active, and they are concerned over the proposals for a new stage cover and a ramp replacement. So are preservation experts.
Twenty years ago, the city proposed turning the planter boxes into money-making corporate boxes, and came up with the idea of projecting logos on Ship Rock and Creation Rock. That was defeated. And then a promoter decided it would help to expand seating — pretty much for his company. That failed, too.
It took years to hash out building a visitor center that didn’t stick out like a sore thumb. In the end, it was a win: The architects involved (Sink Combs Dethlefs and Wenk Associates) understood what was important.
Denver, this is bond money. We pay, and we care.
Below are links to the documents pertaining to the two proposals involving the new stage cover and the south ramp replacement, and to a column by Steve Good, of Friends of Red Rocks, that ran last year in The Denver Post. The topic: again changing the planter boxes. That seemed to vanish into thin air.