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Denver International Airport Expanding Local Art & Culinary Scenes

By M+E Staff

The Gate Expansion Program not only has delivered 39 new gates to Denver International Airport (DEN), there will be colorful new artwork. The expansion increases the airport’s capacity by 30%, making it easy for groups to access meeting and event destinations in the state. Outposts of favorite local restaurants also are being added throughout the facility.  

Public Art by Detour

Denver artist Thomas “Detour” Evans’ sculpture, “It’s Not What You Take, It’s What You Bring Back,” was selected by a panel of community representatives, arts and culture professionals, and civic leaders for DEN’s Concourse B-East expansion site. The artwork is inspired by the idea that life is always in perpetual motion with our luggage carrying the items we hold dear, whether traveling for business or leisure. 

Detour’s sculpture will be completed and available for passengers to enjoy by 2025 and suspended from the concourse ceiling. The design highlights the diverse Denver community and surrounding areas through a companion website that archives each piece of upcycled Colorado luggage, as well as the neighborhood and history of the individual it came from. 

Three additional public artworks will be integrated into the A-West, B-West and C-East expansions with selections announced at a later date. The budget for the artwork is $450,000, which comes from the city’s 1% for Public Art Ordinance and was determined by the DEN Gate Expansion Program’s construction budget. 

Mercantile Opens Outpost

DEN is adding more and more local restaurants to its dining scene. For example, Mercantile Dining & Provision, located in downtown’s Denver Union Station, has opened its first outpost in the center of Concourse A. With the new addition, James Beard Award-winning chef Alex Seidel incorporated a Mercantile market and cafe, counter seating, and quiet dining areas. 

DEN Mercantile encompasses 4,500 square feet and has an open kitchen design, with the 15-seat counter available to watch chefs preparing each dish to order. The grab-and-go section includes house-baked croissants and fresh bread that is hot out of the oven every hour. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and is open daily from 5:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. 

“This is much like our Union Station location. We have various ways for people to eat—fast or slow—and with the same caliber of food that put us on the map as our downtown Denver destination,” says Alex Seidel. “We went all out on the design to make it feel different. This really looks and feels like you’re downtown.”