Skyline Park

Future Uncertain for Remaining Elements of Halprin’s Skyline Park

In 2020, the Department of Parks & Recreation launched a new planning effort to redesign Skyline Park, located between 15th and 18th along Arapahoe in Downtown. The park has an unfortunate preservation history. Constructed between 1972 and 1975, this one-acre linear park and plaza was a central feature of the Skyline Urban Renewal District. The park was designed by Lawrence Halprin, who subsequently went on to be one of the most lauded landscape architects of the later 20th century. Halprin’s three-block design was sunken below street level and heavily planted along the edges. Concrete elements such as retaining walls, stepped seating walls, planters and abstract fountains were the park’s most distinctive features. Each block included a major water feature, which were intended to invoke Colorado’s mountain setting. Nearly twenty years ago the City undertook a redesign and nearly all Halprin’s design elements were eliminated, leaving only a few pieces, including the fountain in the 1600 block. In March 2020, the concept plans unveiled by the city for the redesign did not include the remaining elements of Halprin’s design. Numerous preservation voices, including Historic Denver, expressed concern to the city since incorporating Halprin’s work would not only preserve a piece of his legacy but help to tell the story of downtown’s evolution.

In recent weeks we’ve had productive conversations with Denver Parks & Recreation and the design team about how to recontextualize some of the key Halprin features, including the fountain on the block between 16th & 17th. With adjustments and through recontextualization the sculptural piece could become a focal point integrated with the new amenities and activities that are currently proposed.

You can attend the next public meeting on June 30th at 5 pm over Zoom to view the proposed design plan, and to express your support for retaining and re-integrating elements of Halprin’s work. Learn more and register here.

For more background about Lawrence Halprin, a nationally recognized master designer, and more information about Skyline Park, visit the Cultural Landscape Foundation.