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Denver's Historic Tivoli's Student Union

Tivoli's Student Union RenovationVisible for miles, Denver's history-rich Tivoli Student Union Towers over the University of Colorado's Auraria Campus. The landmark's origins are as interesting as its architecture. Formerly named the Colorado Brewery, it was among the most successful Rocky Mountain breweries and among the few that weathered Prohibition.

 

German immigrant Moritz Sigi built the first of its 12 buildings and 16 distinct structures in 1866. Subsequent owner Max Melsheimmer added the prominent seven-story mansard tower and the Turn Halle opera house. Renamed the Tivoli after the famous gardens in Copenhagen in 1901, it was producing some 150,000 barrels of Tivoli Union beer per year by the early 1950s. In 1969, with only 50 employees remaining in the aftermath of a crippling labor strike, the doors of the Tivoli Union Brewing Company closed.

 

In 1973, it was placed in the National Register of Historic Places. Prior to its use by the University of Colorado, it was a specialty shopping center. In 1994, following renovation, it was reincarnated as a combination Student Union and retail center featuring shops, restaurants, a food court, and conference and meeting space.

 

Tivoli's Student Union Renovation

Today, the Tivoli is undergoing a three-year, $20 million makeover. Begun in 2001, the master exterior rehabilitation will include mechanical, and fire alarm upgrades. Approximately 80,00 square feet of red brick were stripped of paint and restored to their original state. In 1935, the handsome exterior brick received its first layer of white paint, and has been painted several times since.

 

Denver-based Denver Commercial Coatings (DCC) was awarded the mammoth undertaking. According to President Tim Doherty, work began in July 2003. By January 2004, some 52,000 square feet had been completely stripped of paint using the Peel Away® 1 paint removal system from Dumond Chemicals, which was supplied by local dealer Pro-Coat Systems.

 

Peel Away® 1 is a poultice system (consisting of Peel Away® paste and Peel Away® paper) that works by controlling evaporation while enabling quick, effective, and easy removal of multiple layers of paint.  The chemical paste is applied to the surface and covered with specially developed Peel Away® paper. Here, the paste was applied by hand and Graco sprayer. Once the Peel Away® paper was smoothed over the wet paste, it was left to dwell for two to three days-when the paper was peeled away, and with it the bulk of the still-damp paint.

 

Doherty reports and average strip rate of 80% with one application of Peel Away® 1, impressive considering that the multiple coatings have not been stripped to bare brick since the first application of paint in 1935. When needed, a second application of Peel Away® was used to rid the brick of especially stubborn paint. A low-pressure power rinse of clean water followed.

 

Peel Away® 1 was not the only product tested on the paint covering the Tivoli's bricks. According to Doherty, a liquid stripper was considered but rejected because it did not work as quickly of efficiently as Peel Away®, and it was feared that its harsh chemicals would harm the historic brick.

 

Tivoli's Student Union RenovationWith some 30,000 students on campus at any given time, safety was also a key consideration. globeFree of fumes and hazardous chemicals, Peel Away® 1 is non-toxic, and has been used on high-pro-file historic and other restorations nationwide, including residential and office buildings, schools, and museums that were occupied throughout the renovation process.

 

Doherty reports that the exterior brick will not be re-coated following stripping. He expects to strip 80,000 square feet by project's end.

 

Established in 1996, Denver Commercial Coatings, Inc. specializes in high-rise structures. "DCC has carved out a niche with commercial, high-end, hard-to-scaffold jobs" commented founder and president Tim Doherty.

 

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