RTD’s newest art installation is a striking beauty that brings Bauhaus to local transit

Alameda Station Art Installation: Four Gates, by artist Herbert Bayer
Alameda Station art installation: Four Gates, by Herbert Bayer

Rising more than 17 feet above the train tracks at Alameda Station is a new art installation: Four Gates, by artist Herbert Bayer. Bayer was an Austrian student of the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany, who then became its instructor in Dessau, Germany. The Bauhaus is the century-old school of design that gave modern architecture and modern design a foundation.  

Bayer became a U.S. citizen in 1944 after he fled the Nazi regime and resided in Aspen.  He died in Montecito, Calif., in 1985. 

“Four Gates is Bauhaus at its best,” said Ignacio Correa-Ortiz, an RTD architect. “It is composed of clear and simple forms interposing four porticos painted in primary colors.” 

The striking structure took eight weeks to install and is located at Alameda Station by license agreement among RTD, the artist’s estate and the developer of the Denizen apartments located at the station, Broadway Park North Metropolitan District N. 1 – also known as D4 Urban.  

Correa-Ortiz worked on and managed the agreement for three years, as both parties had to define limits of who owns what: RTD owns the plaza, and D4 Urban owns the license for the sculpture to be located in the plaza, noted Correa-Ortiz. RTD Construction Engineer Shayne Ford managed the construction side for the agency. 

RTD contributed money left from an escrow account for the redevelopment of the station’s transit plaza and site improvements for the sculpture. D4 Urban contributed the rest of the funds. 

Four Gates is Bayer’s second sculpture in Denver. You may have seen his other one driving north on I-25 as the highway snakes past the Denver Design District: Articulated Wall, an 85-foot tall stack of rotated yellow concrete blocks. Articulated Wall is also visible during the commute between the Broadway and Alameda stations. 

Four Gates joins 122 pieces of art at RTD stations all across the district, and three other art installments at this station. 

RTD is the patron of Hand Up by Scott Donohue, installed in 1998 and refurbished in 2016. Additionally, the wall owned by Xcel Energy to the east of the station has a 270-foot-long mural by Aaron Glasson, and the Denizen building has an art installation on its façade named Moving Right Along by Sandra Fettingis.  

“There is abundant art at this station, true. The amount of public art should not be determined by quotas, but rather by the expression of cultural participation in a public place,” Correa-Ortiz said.  

Hand Up was originally planned to be relocated to where Four Gates is today. Before transplanting the sculpture, the artist made the assessment that the sculpture would not survive the move; therefore, RTD decided to leave Hand Up in its original location and leave the proposed location empty. D4 Urban saw the opportunity and approached RTD to collaborate with making Four Gates possible where it stands now. 

RTD’s ADA division recognized the design team because the sculpture eliminated physical barriers to allow RTD patrons with disabilities full access to the sculpture.  

“RTD is proud of making art accessible and eliminating barriers to all,” Correa-Ortiz said.