The Frederick S. Hamilton Building was erected next to the old museum building, built in 1971 by Gio Ponti. In contrast to the restrained structure of the Italian architect, Libeskind's new work, his first building in the United States, resembles abstract sculpture with its fractured forms and expression, and is clad in silvery-gray titanium panels. As if exploding from the inside, the volume of the new building is connected to the "medieval castle" of Ponti by a glazed passage on the third floor level. But they are also connected by the principle of contrast, on which the relationship between the two buildings of the Libeskind Museum was built. The new structure also draws into its orbit the nearby postmodern Central City Library of 1995 Michael Graves.
In front of the museum, there is a small area for recreation of the townspeople and an exhibition of large-sized sculptures from the collection of the Denver Museum of Art. This open space in the city center is bounded on one side by the Hamilton building and on the other by the Museum Residences, also designed by Daniel Libeskind. They represent a softened version of his creative manner, fully expressed in the museum building. Thus, from the point of view of the exterior and urban planning function, Libeskind's project can be called successful, albeit very typical or even banal - in relation to the characteristic individual style of this architect. Its forms are habitually repeated by the famous Jewish Museum in Berlin by this architect.
But the main thing in any museum building is not its façade, but exhibition halls. Namely, with regard to the interior, Hamilton's case is especially vulnerable to criticism. When Libeskind took part in an architectural competition in 2000 for the design of a new wing of the museum, he convinced the jury to give preference to his version over the proposals of Arata Isozaki and Tom Main by emphasizing his own way of designing: from the inside out. Now it is very difficult to believe in it. Through the main entrance, the visitor enters the atrium, which is all four floors of the museum. With its seemingly falling inward walls, slit-like sections of glazing in the ceiling, and, most importantly, a curved staircase that tapers upwards, this space makes a dramatic impression. But in the adjoining galleries, surprise turns into a feeling of inconvenience and anxiety. The wedge-shaped plans of the halls and their sloping ceilings, which are easy to bruise, not only oppress visitors, but are practically "opposed" to most of the exhibits.
The curators were forced to hang pictures on the walls, extending from the floor at an angle not 90, but 45 degrees, and with an inclination to either side. The low ceilings and sharp corners of most of the halls leave only small spaces in the center of the rooms for exhibiting. As a result, Hamilton's building forces us to take a fresh look at the constant calls of supporters of traditional architecture for the creation of more restrained and thoughtful museum projects, in which there would be room not only for the original solution of the building itself, but also for the works of art stored in it.