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Gio Ponti’s Denver Art Museum: The Evolution of an Architectural Icon

Gio Ponti’s radical design of a new building for the Denver Art Museum was completed in 1971, and recently restored. Darrin Alfred shares his insights on the inception and design of this masterpiece.

$15 (1 hr)

Category: @Palm Springs, @Annenberg Theater, Book Signing, Presentation, Talk, AIA Continuing Education

Photo Gallery
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Gio Ponti (Italian, 1891–1979) was one of the most imaginative and innovative architects and designers of his time. Over the course of Ponti’s prodigious sixty-year career, his work encompassed fine art, architecture, interior decoration, furniture, textiles, ceramics, glass, flatware, and scenery and costumes for the performing arts. He founded and edited the influential design magazine Domus, was instrumental in the renewal of Italian design and production after the Second World War, wrote articles and books, taught, traveled, and built in more countries than almost any other architect of his generation.

It was these diverse and prolific achievements that led, in large part, to Ponti being hired in 1965 at the age of seventy-four to collaborate with Denver-based James Sudler Associates on the design of a new building for the Denver Art Museum (DAM). Opened in 1971, DAM’s north building, a seven-story structure - with its distinctive cut-out roofline, narrow windows, and an exterior covered with more than a million custom-made glass tiles - was one of the first high-rise museums in the world, an architectural icon in the American West, and is the only building in North American designed by Ponti.

As he shares insights on the inception and unique design of DAM’s recently renovated Lanny and Sharon Martin Building, Darrin Alfred will reveal how themes, materials, and aesthetic developments found in this captivating structure had animated the entirety of Ponti’s wide-ranging career—such as a pursuit of weightlessness, the extensive use of tile, and a modern, streamlined appearance that harkens back to classical prototypes.

Darrin Alfred is Curator of Architecture and Design at the Denver Art Museum (DAM), where he oversees the architecture and design department’s exhibitions, (including the exhibition, Gio Ponti: Designer of a Thousand Talents), programming, and collection of over 19,000 objects. He conceived and developed the DAM’s new design galleries, which span over 11,000 square-feet of new and renovated space in the Gio Ponti-designed Martin Building.   Following the presentation will be a book signing for a book he co-authored, Gio Ponti in the American West (Rizzoli Electra,  2020).

This event qualifies for 1 AIA/CES Learning Unit (LU).


Things to Know

This event is for ages 12 and older.
The entrance to the Annenberg Theater is located behind the Annenberg Theater Box Office, adjacent to the Palm Springs Art Museum's North Parking Lot.
Ample free public parking is available in the multi-level public garage across from the Palm Springs Art Museum.
Handicap parking is available. This event is wheelchair accessible.
The organizer of this event is Modernism Week.

Event Check-in Location 

Annenberg Theater,  Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 N. Museum Dr., Palm Springs, CA 92262
View Map

Photo Credits: 
Gio Ponit Archives, James Florio, Photographer, Denver Art Museum, James Florio, Photographer, Denver Art Museum, James Florio, Photographer, Denver Art Museum, Courtesy Gio Ponti Archives, Flickr OHNY


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