14th & Curtis Street
Sat and Sun 10AM–2PM
Architect: G. Meredith Musick with Frederick E. Mountjoy; Beyer Blinder Belle
Architectural Style: Modern
Year Built: 1941, 1991
Photo Restrictions: Yes
Photo Above: Stevie Crecelius for Visit Denver, The Convention and Visitors Bureau
The building now known as the Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre began as an addition to the Denver Municipal Auditorium, also known as the Auditorium Arena for most of its life. In 1941 the initial 110- foot-high arches were constructed, but World War II interrupted progress, and a temporary masonry wall was erected until work recommenced in 1952. 1947 revisions added a sports court to the Arena as well.
In 1984 money was raised to supplement the $27.5 million in city bonds to build a new venue primarily for touring Broadway shows. The Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation supplied the naming-rights fund of three million dollars to honor the noted Denver architect and developer who died one year prior to the theatre’s opening.
In order to integrate the building into the Denver Performing Arts Complex, Beyer Blinder Belle created a plan to gut the Arena, leaving the outer walls, and create a proscenium theatre opening onto the galleria. The theatre’s house interior is lined with around 8,000 pieces of sandstone from Lyons, Colorado, and can be seen in shades of gray and pink, some of which contain fossils. The sound system is designed for amplified performances and consists of 300 speakers located throughout the house. The height of the ceiling was determined partly to accommodate the Phantom of the Opera chandelier, a major prop for the first touring Broadway show to perform in the Buell.
The over 2,800 seats are arranged in four tiers: two on the main level, one mezzanine, and one balcony. Box seats line the sides of the auditorium, and fiber optic lights decorate the outer walls of the box seats, mezzanine, and balcony. The orchestra pit can be raised to house level to provide extra seating or to the stage level to create an apron for the performing space.
Beyond the theatre space, the larger building includes a wide lobby with two grand staircases, one of which leads to a reception facility on the second floor and to an upper lobby, which opens onto Juliet balconies overlooking the galleria. Actor’s Alley, a wide hallway between the Buell and the Ellie, is a popular attraction on the DPAC tours with its door-sized posters of productions shown at the Buell. The casts and crews of the shows sign the posters during their runs there.
G. Meredith Musick was a charter member and architecture student of the Denver Atelier, and worked in the offices of Henry H. Hewitt, Frank Edbrooke, and others before opening his own firm in 1923. He was known for moving away from historical revival styles and embracing Modernism, designing buildings in Art Deco, Art Moderne, and the International styles. He handled numerous projects for the city of Denver, including the 1946 passenger terminal for Stapleton Airport. Musick designed the Police Building at 1245 Champa, which later became the home for the offices of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and was later sold again. He sometimes collaborated with other architects on projects, such as the Denver Municipal Auditorium Arena expansion in 1941.
Frederick E. Mountjoy collaborated with Musick on the ‘41 Auditorium Arena expansion. Mountjoy began as a draftsman for Gove and Walsh in 1908, and later had several partners in different architectural firms. After 1931 he practiced alone, but frequently worked with other Denver architects. Sadly, Musick died during the construction of the Auditorium expansion in 1941. During his life he was a member of Denver’s Municipal Art Commission.
Beyer Blinder Belle maintains offices in both New York City and Washington, D.C. The multi-disciplinary, full-service, and urban planning firm focuses on interactions between people and spaces, often at historic preservation and restoration sites. The firm has received the AIA Firm Award and numerous National Trust for Historic Preservation Awards, as well as other accolades.
Temple Hoyne Buell, for whom the theatre is named, was trained at Columbia University and came to Denver to recover from tuberculosis. He designed Denver’s Paramount Theatre (1930) and developed the Cherry Creek Shopping Center.
Denver Center for the Performing Arts: Broadway
The Broadway arm of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts brings touring Broadway shows to the Buell, and sometimes the Ellie. The size and the technical aspects of the Buell have made Denver a popular site to launch the national tours of shows such as The Lion King, Pippin, and Sunset Boulevard.
Guide to Denver Architecture by Mary Voelz Chandler; Showtime: Denver’s Performing Arts Convention Center & Theatres by Thomas J. Noel and Amy B. Zimmer; Denver Center for the Performing Arts; History Colorado; archinect.com; archleague.org
For more information, please visit http://artscomplex.com/Venues/TempleHoyneBuellTheatre/tabid/69/Default.aspx.