In 1992, despite its charming 1920s Italian Renaissance revival style, the venerable old Midland Building had been written off by everyone, including the city's hardcore preservationists. Believe it or not, the high-rise wasn't, at the time, considered to be historically valuable. The fact that it was designed by one of Denver's greatest early-twentieth-century architectural firms, Fisher and Fisher, didn't seem to matter, either. Luckily, the building's developers, Corum Real Estate Group, skipped the possibility of a surface parking lot at the site and instead decided to take advantage of downtown's boom times by turning the Midland Building into residential lofts. Now, as the redo moves toward completion, no one would doubt the building's historic credentials or its value to downtown's architectural diversity. One great challenge for the restoration architect, Paul Bergner (in consultation with David Owen Tryba), was the need to re-create the exterior massing and details of the first floor and mezzanine, which had been lost in a misguided 1970s rehab. The project reminds us that in historic preservation -- as in baseball -- it ain't over till it's over.

In 1992, despite its charming 1920s Italian Renaissance revival style, the venerable old Midland Building had been written off by everyone, including the city's hardcore preservationists. Believe it or not, the high-rise wasn't, at the time, considered to be historically valuable. The fact that it was designed by one of Denver's greatest early-twentieth-century architectural firms, Fisher and Fisher, didn't seem to matter, either. Luckily, the building's developers, Corum Real Estate Group, skipped the possibility of a surface parking lot at the site and instead decided to take advantage of downtown's boom times by turning the Midland Building into residential lofts. Now, as the redo moves toward completion, no one would doubt the building's historic credentials or its value to downtown's architectural diversity. One great challenge for the restoration architect, Paul Bergner (in consultation with David Owen Tryba), was the need to re-create the exterior massing and details of the first floor and mezzanine, which had been lost in a misguided 1970s rehab. The project reminds us that in historic preservation -- as in baseball -- it ain't over till it's over.

I-70 commuters call it "the flying-saucer house" or "the Sleeper house," after its cameo appearance in a Woody Allen movie, but architect Charles Deaton considered it a personal statement of freedom. The acquisition of Deaton's masterpiece by software mogul John Huggins, after years of neglect by a previous owner, is good news for all lovers of non-Euclidean geometry. Huggins is investing the care and cash needed to finish the interior of the never-occupied house with the aid of Deaton's designing daughter, Charlee. He's also building an addition, following the plans drawn up by Deaton (who died a few years ago) and local architect Nicholas Antonopoulos of Praxis Design. When completed this summer, the result will be an incredible mountain retreat -- and the unique vision of an important artist realized at last.

Sculptured House
I-70 commuters call it "the flying-saucer house" or "the Sleeper house," after its cameo appearance in a Woody Allen movie, but architect Charles Deaton considered it a personal statement of freedom. The acquisition of Deaton's masterpiece by software mogul John Huggins, after years of neglect by a previous owner, is good news for all lovers of non-Euclidean geometry. Huggins is investing the care and cash needed to finish the interior of the never-occupied house with the aid of Deaton's designing daughter, Charlee. He's also building an addition, following the plans drawn up by Deaton (who died a few years ago) and local architect Nicholas Antonopoulos of Praxis Design. When completed this summer, the result will be an incredible mountain retreat -- and the unique vision of an important artist realized at last.

Best surviving example of classic Cherry Creek chic

Ilona of Hungary building

Cherry Creek has undergone relentless change in the last ten years, and although the neighborhood has never been more alive with shoppers and residents, the new buildings being thrown up to accommodate them are...not so alive. Among the ugly new additions, however, is an elite but ever-dwindling group of gorgeous older buildings that have long defined Cherry Creek as a center of urbane luxury. None of these is more beautiful or more impeccably maintained than the Ilona of Hungary building. Designed by the Denver architectural firm of Frank & Lundquist, the white building has a muscular frame of exposed structural members that elegantly contrasts with the delicately pierced sunscreens that shelter it. The suave 1970s confection communicates the dedication to beauty that is the chief pursuit at Ilona of Hungary, a European-style spa and a health- and beauty-aids manufacturer. The company was founded by George Meszaros, a world-renowned beauty consultant, and his wife, Ilona. The two were 1940s emigrés from Hungary who met in this country and moved to Denver in the 1960s for our then-clean air. Hopefully, the just-announced plan to renovate the building will do nothing to spoil its swank character.

Best surviving example of classic Cherry Creek chic

Ilona of Hungary building

Cherry Creek has undergone relentless change in the last ten years, and although the neighborhood has never been more alive with shoppers and residents, the new buildings being thrown up to accommodate them are...not so alive. Among the ugly new additions, however, is an elite but ever-dwindling group of gorgeous older buildings that have long defined Cherry Creek as a center of urbane luxury. None of these is more beautiful or more impeccably maintained than the Ilona of Hungary building. Designed by the Denver architectural firm of Frank & Lundquist, the white building has a muscular frame of exposed structural members that elegantly contrasts with the delicately pierced sunscreens that shelter it. The suave 1970s confection communicates the dedication to beauty that is the chief pursuit at Ilona of Hungary, a European-style spa and a health- and beauty-aids manufacturer. The company was founded by George Meszaros, a world-renowned beauty consultant, and his wife, Ilona. The two were 1940s emigrés from Hungary who met in this country and moved to Denver in the 1960s for our then-clean air. Hopefully, the just-announced plan to renovate the building will do nothing to spoil its swank character.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, people were so excited by the development of the electric light that they found applications for it that we can hardly imagine today, like attaching bare lightbulbs to oak beams. One forgotten device was bathing a building's facade in light after nightfall. When Silversmith Cohen began to rehab the old Chamber of Commerce building -- which was designed by Denver architects Marean and Norton in 1909 -- in order to turn it into the Chamber Apartments, they found, first in local history books, and then buried in the terra cotta on the building itself, a hidden indirect lighting system. But like the rest of the place, the wiring was decrepit. The system was refitted to state-of-the-art standards, and this spring, though the building itself isn't finished, the electricity was turned on again. Now this old-fashioned light show is one of downtown's brightest spots.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, people were so excited by the development of the electric light that they found applications for it that we can hardly imagine today, like attaching bare lightbulbs to oak beams. One forgotten device was bathing a building's facade in light after nightfall. When Silversmith Cohen began to rehab the old Chamber of Commerce building -- which was designed by Denver architects Marean and Norton in 1909 -- in order to turn it into the Chamber Apartments, they found, first in local history books, and then buried in the terra cotta on the building itself, a hidden indirect lighting system. But like the rest of the place, the wiring was decrepit. The system was refitted to state-of-the-art standards, and this spring, though the building itself isn't finished, the electricity was turned on again. Now this old-fashioned light show is one of downtown's brightest spots.
It's fashionable in architecture to put up new buildings in styles that date back a hundred years. But many of these new old-timey buildings are too conservative to be visually interesting. Not so for the 1899 Wynkoop Building, which was developed by the Nichols Partnership and Loftus Development and designed by Sheers + Leese Associates and the Neenan Company. The particulars of the handsome neo-traditional building were worked out by Chris Sheers to complement its next-door neighbor, the beloved Ice House. With design oversight by the Colorado Historical Foundation, the bulk of the building -- which according to zoning could have been a skyscraper -- was downsized in a deal that allowed the developers to punch windows in the formerly windowless walls of the Ice House. The tradeoff was necessary because, surprisingly, the Ice House and nearby Union Station aren't within the boundaries of the landmark district, like the rest of LoDo, and therefore not protected. In spite of this, the building fits in and is a lot better than what we might have expected.

It's fashionable in architecture to put up new buildings in styles that date back a hundred years. But many of these new old-timey buildings are too conservative to be visually interesting. Not so for the 1899 Wynkoop Building, which was developed by the Nichols Partnership and Loftus Development and designed by Sheers + Leese Associates and the Neenan Company. The particulars of the handsome neo-traditional building were worked out by Chris Sheers to complement its next-door neighbor, the beloved Ice House. With design oversight by the Colorado Historical Foundation, the bulk of the building -- which according to zoning could have been a skyscraper -- was downsized in a deal that allowed the developers to punch windows in the formerly windowless walls of the Ice House. The tradeoff was necessary because, surprisingly, the Ice House and nearby Union Station aren't within the boundaries of the landmark district, like the rest of LoDo, and therefore not protected. In spite of this, the building fits in and is a lot better than what we might have expected.

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