Campus & Community

23,000-pound spire placed atop new international relations building

The spire was placed atop the new building on Thursday morning. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

The spire was placed atop the new building on Thursday morning. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Thursday was an exciting day for the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, as students, faculty, staff and donors witnessed the ceremonial placement of a 23,000-pound spire atop the new Anna and John J. Sie International Relations Complex, which is scheduled for completion in February 2016.

The spire, which will soon be adorned by 1,700 blue tiles to match the roof of the Sie Center, was hoisted 143 feet from the ground, to top off the new five-story, 46,000 square foot Sie Complex addition to the Korbel School.

“Denver has never been vertically challenged,” said Christopher R. Hill, dean of the Korbel School, “and now the spire atop the Sie Complex will be one of the highest points on the DU campus.”

The new structure was made possible by a $17 million gift from the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation. The gift is the largest single private gift in the 51-year history of the Korbel School. It is also the lead gift in a five-year, $40 million fundraising campaign to endow student scholarships, add faculty and expand programs. In addition to seminar rooms, research centers and office space, the building also will house state-of-the-art technological spaces for students, faculty and visiting experts to simulate international incidents, negotiations and global solutions.

Many in the crowd wondered why a pine tree was placed atop the spire. Hill explained: According to an old Norse tradition, nothing manmade should be higher than God’s creation. The tree solved that problem. University of Denver Architect Mark Rodgers chose a white pine, known as the “Tree of Peace” among the Iroquois Nation, to symbolize peace between Iroquois and Westerners, which aligns with school’s mission for promoting international relations.

Rodgers and architectural firm AndersonMasonDale collaborated on the design of the Sie Complex, with input and guidance from the Sie Family. The Weitz Company is the project’s general contractor.


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