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Best Of 2008

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Best Of :: People & Places

Best Facelift of an Ugly Building

The Tattered Cover bookstore in Cherry Creek was a beloved gathering place, but the building that housed it was an ugly lump. It wasn't always that way, however. Originally, the structure at 100 Fillmore Street was a swank, modernist landmark housing a branch of the now-defunct Neustseter's department store; in the 1970s, when mid-century modern was out of style, the chic curtain walls were stripped off and replaced by aggregate. But now, in its reincarnation as Pura Vida, a glitzy gym and spa, the building has recaptured its lost glory, clad in a neo-modernist vocabulary of details, including huge wraparound windows on the upper floors. The spa is owned by a partnership including J. Madden, son of big-time developer John Madden. But it was the work of developer the Sturm Realty Group and the good folks at Gensler notably Blake Mourer and Semple Brown Design that turned this sow's ear into the best silk purse in Cherry Creek.

100 Fillmore St., Denver, 80202
MAP
303-321-7872
Best Addition to a Historic Building
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
The+John+Gaw+Meem+Colorado+Springs+Fine+Arts+Center+with+the+David+Owen+Tryba+addition.

The stately Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is one of the most important buildings in the Mountain Standard time zone. Built in 1936, the concrete-and-black aggregate structure combines Pueblo style with art moderne design, and was unquestionably the high point of architect John Gaw Meem's career. But while the building remained stunning, sixty years after its completion, it was also too small. After a misguided attempt to enlarge it failed, Denver architect David Owen Tryba and his crew were hired in 2003 to come up with a solution. And they did. The addition, which debuted last summer, is tucked behind the original building, giving the center adequate facilities to both showcase its impressive collection and host traveling shows while preserving the integrity of the original design.

30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 80903
MAP
719-634-5581
Best Appearance by Britney Spears in Colorado

The city was agog at reported Britney Spears sightings earlier this year. But her best Colorado appearance was in cartoon form — as if that isn't always the case — on a recent episode of South Park, the Comedy Central series that just celebrated its tenth anniversary. In "Britney's New Look," the pop princess fled the paparazzi and landed in South Park, the mythical creation of Colorado boys Matt Stone and Trey Parker, where she wound up losing her head. As if you could tell.

Best Bus for Eavesdropping

Long before commuting was cool, green-thinking Boulderites started hopping the B Route when they needed to get to downtown Denver — for a meeting, for a dinner, for a play. But just sitting on the B bus can be entertainment enough, since it gives you easy eavesdropping access to conversations involving everyone from MacArthur Foundation grant winners and University of Colorado professors to fraternity leaders planning the next big bash.

Best Bus for People-Watching

No matter how much the city cleans up East Colfax Avenue, RTD's #15 bus will always be the true gauge of this neighborhood. Hop on between Colorado and Broadway, and listen to East High School students talking with the homeless. Or as happy hour turns to night, watch as drunken blue-collars heading home from the strip's rougher bars rub shoulders with twenty-something hipsters on their way to hear live music. Conversation is the sole soundtrack to this route, because music is allowed with headphones only — and you'd better have exact change, because RTD doesn't dish any out. Other than that, though, no rules apply and all bets are off. Whether you're chatting with an immigrant about the world he left behind or hoping that the drug dealer to your left will leave you alone, the #15 delivers the bold, hard facts on the real Colfax.

Best Denver Celebrity to Almost Inherit an English Castle

Isaac Slade, frontman for the Fray, Denver's first double-platinum band, has been living the dream in more ways than one. Last year he met up with Sir Benjamin Slade, an English aristocrat in search of an heir to inherit his thirteenth mansion. The estate, valued at $15 million, includes three lakes, a ballroom (perfect for private rock shows), hundreds of cattle — and plenty of expensive upkeep projects. Sir Benjamin had been looking for an heir for eighteen months before he decided that Isaac might be just the Slade he was looking for; at last report, Isaac still hadn't decided if English manor life was for him.

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Best Facelift of an Ugly Building: Pura Vida

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