Alan Berney Fisher (1905–78), the son of architect William E. Fisher, was an important modernist architect in twentieth-century Denver.
Alan received early training in his father’s office before finishing his education at the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined Fisher and Fisher, and after his father’s death in 1937, he became a partner with his uncle in Arthur A. Fisher and Alan B. Fisher Architects. One of Alan’s early achievements was Ship Tavern (1934) in the Brown Palace Hotel. In designing this celebrated, nautical-themed watering hole, he disguised the support column as a ship’s mast complete with a crow’s nest.
Later, Alan took the firm in a modernist direction, abandoning the historicist revival styles of his father and uncle. Some good examples of Alan’s work with the firm include the Moderne-style Country Club Gardens (1940), an apartment complex adjacent to the Denver Country Club; a collaboration with Burnham Hoyt on the International-Style Denver Public Library (1955); and the Colorado Department of Employment (1956).
Alan maintained the firm’s insistence on fine materials; in his case, however, he preferred concrete to brick, stone, and stucco. One especially dramatic use of concrete is Hangar 61 (1959), 8700 East Twenty-First Avenue, which seems poised to take flight with a thin concrete roof that resembles wings. Designated a Denver landmark for its design and engineering, Hangar 61 has now been repurposed as a church. Alan collaborated on a reinforced-concrete Engineering Sciences Center (1965) at the University of Colorado in Boulder. This striking horizontal tower has a single pitched roof, paying homage to Colorado’s mine-shaft heritage. Working with James Sudler Associates, Alan’s firm also helped design another impressive concrete building, the US Courthouse and Byron G. Rogers Federal Building (1965).
The storied Fisher and Fisher firm went through several permutations in later years. Rodney S. Davis joined in 1947 and became a partner in the firm of Fisher, Fisher, and Davis, then Fisher and Davis after Arthur’s retirement in 1959. After Davis left to start his own firm in 1967, Alan Fisher partnered with John D. Reece and Hilary M. Johnson in Fisher, Reece and Johnson.
Alan’s wife, Gladys Caldwell Fisher, was a Denver sculptor famous for her lifelike animals. Toward the end of his life, Alan became a noted preservationist as a founding member of the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission, a trustee for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and a preservation consultant for the city of Denver and the state of Colorado. He died in 1978.