Best Improvement to a Toxic Dump (2008)

Commerce City Civic and Justice Center

During World War II, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal was established north of Stapleton — and the resulting Superfund site was such a toxic cesspool that even after cleanup, parts were so polluted that the land could never be developed — so instead, we got the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Refuge. Immediately to the west of that is Prairie Gateway, where the new Commerce City Civic and Justice Center — which houses offices, courtrooms and the police department — boasts a lovely view of the dump, er, nature preserve. But this building is also worthy of a look: It's a handsome, neo-modernist structure crowded with details such as sunscreens over some windows. Not only that, but different parts are finished in different materials of different colors. Given the checkered past of its setting, though, the best part of the project could be that RNL designed it to be "built green," with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

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