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Complex Concrete Work Creates Distinctive Clyfford Still Museum

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LaCasse Photography 2011, courtesy of Saunders Construction
The building provides intimate, architecturally compelling spaces for the display and study of the museums extraordinary collection.
Courtesy of Saunders Construction
It was designed with interior and exterior architectural-concrete walls ranging from 12 in. to 24 in. thick.
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2012 Best Overall Project in Colorado

2012 Best Project

Cultural/Worship Category

Clyfford Still Museum


The design of the 28,500-sq-ft Clyfford Still Museum reflects its mission to preserve, display and celebrate 2,400 works spanning the career of legendary American artist Clyfford Still.

Still was an abstract expressionist whose works were characterized by abstract forms, expressive brushwork and a monumental scale to the paintings. The building provides intimate, architecturally compelling spaces for the display and study of the museum's extraordinary collection, one of the most comprehensive single-artist holdings in the world.

The cantilevered, two-story building features nine light-filled galleries on its second level as well as a library, archives and educational resources, a conservation studio and first-floor storage for works of art.

Designed with interior and exterior architectural-concrete walls ranging from 12 in. to 24 in. thick, the walls required extensive pre-planning for both the forming and pouring phases because of their precise architectural and structural requirements. They were poured 43 ft high with no horizontal construction joints. The length of the pour was dictated by the architecture transitions in the face of the wall, which could not be more than 60 ft long. The walls have no visible construction joints because a typical vertical joint was not used; instead, a stainless-steel, vertical crack-control system was concealed behind the face of the concrete.

Steel-panel forms were built, then a wood-batten pattern was added to the face of the concrete forms to create the architectural face of the building. The form liners could not be re-used since they were milled-wood pieces minutely detailed by the architect and placed as individual vertical strips in six different patterns.

Building information modeling was used to prepare the shop and lift drawings and incorporated each wood pattern along with tie-hole and internal crack-control placements and form savers with rebar placement. Crews conducted extensive field quality inspections and double-checked each of the forms before concrete was poured.

Key Players

Owner: Clyfford Still Museum, Denver

Architect: Allied Works Architecture, Portland, Ore.

General Contractor: Saunders Construction, Centennial, Colo.

Structural Engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers, Portland, Ore.

Civil Engineer: V3 Cos. of Colorado Ltd, Denver

MEP: ARUP, Los Angeles


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