Colorado Photographic Arts Center

Denver, CO

The new home of the Colorado Photographic Arts Center (CPAC) has been designed by Semple Brown to support the multiple facets of the organization’s mission and programming. For the first time in its 60 year history, CPAC will inhabit a space specifically designed according to its growing needs. As Colorado’s largest nonprofit institution dedicated to the photographic arts, Semple Brown designed their new 4,000 sf headquarters to meet a number of primary goals:

  • Exhibition Galleries: two flexible galleries that can be deployed separately or joined together for larger exhibits or events.
  • Library: a dedicated space with ample shelving with subject books that are available for lending and for purchase. This space also serves as a third gallery space, allowing CPAC to show pieces from its permanent collection on a rolling basis. Many of the pieces shown in this space haven’t been seen by the public in the institutions 60 year history.
  • Education Space: a dedicated classroom for CPAC’s workshops and classes for teens and adults, with two printer workstations, ample storage, and wall space for critique.
  • Darkroom: the Denver region’s only publicly available darkroom space. The darkroom is fully accessible with ADA-accessible machines and sinks. The larger chemical baths allow photographers to develop larger prints from film.
  • Collection Storage: a dedicated storage and curation space for more than 800 fine art prints by eminent photographers.
  • Administrative space for staff and volunteers.

The simple material palette provides a canvas that allows each exhibition to shine. Built-in technology for a/v supports artist talks and education events. A kitchenette and outdoor patio serve both as support facilities for events and as respite for artists and staff. And large scale sliding partitions allow the galleries to convert quickly from event mode to exhibition mode with a minimum of staff time. Gallery quality lighting and thoughtful acoustics provide an environment that is optimized to showcase the region’s best examples of the photography medium. The 4,000 sf suite occupies the base of a building featuring arts-focused micro-housing units.

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