Creating community pride
Fostering Connection and Enhancing Pride for Communities Worldwide
Given Fentress Architects’ humanistic mission—that a building must work well for its users and speak of and to its culture and community—every project in our portfolio is an example of community architecture. With that said, this section looks at a handful of examples that do not fit neatly in a single category, where our experience has taken in us into specialized niches: sacred architecture and places of worship; bridges; transit centers; and stadiums and arenas.
Curtis Worth Fentress emerges out of a long tradition of American pragmatism. His architecture is bound by neither ideology nor theory; its forms spring from a conscientious reading of program and context.
— Paul Goldberger, Contributing Editor for Vanity Fair and Former Architectural critic for The New York Times
Sacred Architecture and Places of Worship
It is an honor and privilege to be entrusted with the design of worship and sacred space—places where people connect with their spiritual calling, ceremonies, and communities. For these reasons and more, the architecture must facilitate as well as celebrate gatherings, and also foster deep connection within member communities as well as the greater neighborhood community.
The Chapel at Cherry Hills Community Church, the Mile Hi Church Sanctuary, and Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel are significantly diverse in their religious affiliations, existing architectural vernaculars, facility needs, geographies, and more. They are also similar in that they all share a desire to serve their community’s needs and objectives with spaces that are inspiring, pragmatic, and flexible.
I would highly recommend Fentress Architects as architect of record for any project, but even more highly for the rigors of working in a church environment.
— Dr. Robert A. Smith, Mile Hi Church
The Chapel at Cherry Hills elevates the ‘Old World’-style of the campus with native Colorado stone, rich cherry wood, and masterfully designed stained-glass windows that work in concert to create a warm and welcoming environment for weddings, memorials, and services. The 1,500-seat Mile Hi Church Sanctuary sits beneath a voluminous poured-in-place concrete dome that pays homage to the original, post-modern sanctuary that now serves as an auditorium. Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel is nestled in Semper Fidelis Memorial Park. This intimate chapel serves Marines and visitors who seek a place in which to contemplate and reflect upon the sacrifices of those who served our nation. All three facilities are replete with amenities to serve their size and purpose including entry and exterior plazas, audio/visuals systems, restroom facilities, dressing and green rooms, cry rooms, and memorial walls and plaques.
You’re at once shielded from nature, and immersed in its glory.
— Jury comments, Semper Fidelis Memorial Park Chapel Citation Award for Interior Architecture, AIA Denver, 2010
Bridges capture the imagination and have the potential to transcend conventional design. Throughout history, bridges have been pivotal links in infrastructure, the means for the consolidation or expansion of a community, a testament to progress in terms of design and materials, and above all, landmarks. While bridges are more vast and varied in type (beam, truss, cantilever, cable-stay, suspension) than purpose (pedestrian, vehicular, aircraft), all bridge design can be significantly enhanced by a strong partnership between architect and structural engineer.
For Lone Tree Bridge, south of Metro Denver, Fentress Architects and Thornton Tomasetti worked collaboratively to create a 170-foot-long pedestrian bridge that connects neighboring communities, provides an essential link in a network of cycling trails, and creates a civic landmark. As the form of the bridge—an asymmetric cable-stay—took shape, the design team focused on creating balance between structural efficiency and artistic form. Paying homage to the symbolism of the City of Lone Tree, the design team refined the three-dimensional lattice truss to create a sculptural form respectful of the natural beauty of the nearby Rocky Mountains: a leaf.
In addition to standalone bridges, Fentress Architects has designed numerous bridges as a component of larger projects at:
- airports including the 345-foot-long pedestrian bridge that connects the Passenger Terminal Complex at Denver International Airport with Concourse A, two pedestrian bridges at Sacramento International Airport that connect the terminal building with parking garages, and a voluminous pedestrian bridge at Nashville International Airport to connect the central core with the garage plaza, administration building, and future hotel;
- convention centers including Miami, Colorado, and San Diego;
- and both municipal and commercial office buildings including two bridges for Research 1, one bridge between Research 1 and Research 2 at University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus, and a pedestrian bridge at Green Square Complex between the Nature Research Center and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Just as with bridges, Fentress Architects has designed multi-modal transit centers as an element of larger airport, convention center, and municipal and commercial office projects including:
- the master plan for Incheon International Airport, which is inclusive of connections to multiple bus and shuttle routes, railroad and train lines, and commercial and personal vehicles;
- Colorado Convention Center, which incorporates a light rail station and multiple bus stops into the building foot print;
- and Oakland City Hall, which sits in the heart of downtown Oakland directly above the fifth busiest BART station that serves four of the system’s five lines.
Fentress’ first standalone public transit facility, the Ronstadt Transit Center was completed in 1991. More than twenty-five years later, it continues to serve its community and the over 85,000 weekly travelers who use it. In fact, the 50-foot-tall cooling towers, specially designed for the facility, and open colonnade are a trusted respite for travelers seeking refuge from the Arizona heat.
For public transportation, [the Ronstadt Transit Center] could have been a forlorn place. Instead, it’s one of the few likeable, humanely scaled, user-friendly projects to arise in downtown Tucson since the 1920s.
— Lawrence Cheek, Citizen Architecture Critic
Stadiums and Arenas
Fentress Architects is thrilled to have helped create Broncos Stadium at Mile High, one of the most beloved stadiums in National Football League history. Working alongside HNTB, Fentress brought to the team a staff headquartered in Denver with a wealth of experience working on large, complex municipal projects.
With a unique, undulating upper profile and a skin of steel, glass and aluminum, Broncos Stadium at Mile High retains the original stadium’s legendary and traditional horseshoe shape. It also features the over 13,500 tons of steel tread risers in a severely pitched seating bowl that allow Broncos fans to recreate a hallmark of Mile High Stadium: the metal clamor known as “Rocky Mountain Thunder”. While the beloved hallmarks of the original stadium were retained, new amenities were also added: a park-like setting with extensive landscaping that includes native grasses and Autumn Blaze Maples; the Counties Gateway Plaza, the ceremonial entrance featuring individual monuments to each of the six counties in metropolitan Denver whose residents helped to fund construction; and Sports Legends Mall, which provides on-site event space complete with a permanent stage, utility services, and more.
[Broncos Stadium at Mile High], with an open-ended horseshoe shape, honors tradition without being bound by it. The architects chose to incorporate a sense of tradition into a futuristic look instead of a trendy retro design.
— Panstadia International, A Tale of Two Cities, January 2001
Learn more about our community project capabilities, contact:
Brian H. Chaffee FAIA, LEED AP BD+C