Denver Center of the Performing Arts

Built over the four city blocks, the Denver Performing Arts Complex, or The Plex is a combination of buildings, of different era, style and function concentrated around the same purpose, to shelter the performing arts.

The historic cornerstone to the complex, Ellie Caulkins Opera House was built as the multipurpose venue hosting political conventions, basketball games and even rodeos. With the interior now thoroughly renovated, the elaborate Neo-classical facade remains witness the beginnings of The Plex.

Moving around the complex doesn’t show much. What the passer-by can observe are backs of the modernist Buell Theatre and Boettcher Concert Hall, long walls of garages and a street diving under the complex. The facades of the complex are turned inwards to a vaulted pedestrian alley opening to each other and a collection of balconies, terraces and staircases forming an urban interior and a sort of a stage in front of the stages.

The only other part of the Center open to the outer world is Helen G. Bonfils Theatre Complex. Its dramatic brutalist concrete volumes of transgressing geometric shapes make it an admirable gate to the alley as the curvature of the building integrates with the glass arches of the canopies drawing the outsides in, where the happenings are.

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