Denver Central Library

Denver, CO

“The Central Library is my favorite building in the world. This building is a success because of the inclusiveness of its design… (it) still puts a smile of expectation on the faces of visitors and staff.” Rick Ashton, City Librarian during design and construction of the Library

The library as a civic institution

The Denver Central Library reflects Michael Graves’s belief that cultural organizations are at the heart of their communities, and should reflect past, present, and future. The project, won as a result of a design competition, dramatically expanded an existing 1950s historic library building by Burnham Hoyt, and created a new cultural presence in the city on Civic Center Park.

Reading inside and outside

The south-facing rotunda contains major public reading rooms on three levels. Its form, as well as the distinctive struts at the top of the building, reflect what goes on inside, especially in the Western History Reading Room on the top floor. The Reading Room features a derrick-like structure of recycled timbers that recalls the rugged forms of mining structures that populated the distant mountain ranges. Similarly, the children’s storytelling pavilion is a distinctive octagonal structure within Acoma Plaza, a public space shared with the adjacent art museum.

Project Lead

Michael Graves, FAIA. Current staff who participated: Thomas Rowe, AIA, Karen Nichols, FAIA


Professional Credits

Associate Architect Klipp Colussy Jenks Dubois Architects



Denver, CO (Americas)



147,000 SF Renovation, 390,000 SF Expansion


Completion Date




National AIA Interiors Honor Award,  AIA/ALA Award of Excellence. AIA New Jersey Design Award, Named “best library in America” numerous times