The concrete building that is now the Colorado Business Bank was originally constructed in 1907 for Charles Boettcher's Ideal Cement Company. Twenty years later, it was completely redone by the premier Denver architects of the time, Fisher and Fisher, who converted the ordinary building into a remarkable structure encrusted with terra-cotta decorations and lined with luxurious surface treatments, including metal and plaster bas-reliefs, engraved metals, and terrazzo in elaborate multicolored patterns. Although the building was fairly well maintained, time eventually took its toll on the paint and plaster -- and even the terrazzo. That's why Evan Makovsky, who bought the building a couple of years ago for the bank, asked Sprung Construction to give it a thorough going-over last summer. The interior and exterior were restored beautifully, and the heavenly ceiling was expertly touched up by the International Fine Art Conservation Studio. Makovsky took a personal interest in the project, and it shows.

Best Building on the Endangered-Species List

Ocean Journey

Downtown Aquarium
Ocean Journey was just hours from going extinct when it was pulled back from the brink on April 1. Let's hope that Ocean Journey, the aquarium, survives bankruptcy, because Ocean Journey, the building, is a very fine structure that was conceived to the nth degree when it was built in 1999. Not only does it sport state-of-the-art technical features that support the wide array of aquatic life inside, but it also contains artwork specifically made for the place. Odyssea, a once-only collaboration between Anderson Mason Dale and RNL Design, two of the city's most respected architectural firms, designed the Platte Valley building. The principal designer was Ron Mason. His concept, a brick core partly surrounded by undulating steel and glass walls that form a grand porchlike atrium overlooking the Platte River, created a monumental presence that goes way beyond the structure's actual size. We fell for this building hook, line and sinker.

Best Building on the Endangered-Species List

Ocean Journey

Ocean Journey was just hours from going extinct when it was pulled back from the brink on April 1. Let's hope that Ocean Journey, the aquarium, survives bankruptcy, because Ocean Journey, the building, is a very fine structure that was conceived to the nth degree when it was built in 1999. Not only does it sport state-of-the-art technical features that support the wide array of aquatic life inside, but it also contains artwork specifically made for the place. Odyssea, a once-only collaboration between Anderson Mason Dale and RNL Design, two of the city's most respected architectural firms, designed the Platte Valley building. The principal designer was Ron Mason. His concept, a brick core partly surrounded by undulating steel and glass walls that form a grand porchlike atrium overlooking the Platte River, created a monumental presence that goes way beyond the structure's actual size. We fell for this building hook, line and sinker.


Mary Chandler's goal was to research 400 buildings in and around Denver, put her comments into book form and get the whole thing published before the American Institute of Architects met in Denver last summer. The task was made more complicated by an ever-changing cast of characters who served on a succession of advisory committees from the Denver Foundation for Architecture, the group that sponsored the book. Then there was the on-again-off-again funding, which came through just weeks before the AIA meetings. But the result, Guide to Denver Architecture, published by Westcliffe Publishers, was worth the wait and the effort. The result is an indispensable handbook that's at least as valuable to our skyline as some of the buildings constructed in the past year.
Mary Chandler's goal was to research 400 buildings in and around Denver, put her comments into book form and get the whole thing published before the American Institute of Architects met in Denver last summer. The task was made more complicated by an ever-changing cast of characters who served on a succession of advisory committees from the Denver Foundation for Architecture, the group that sponsored the book. Then there was the on-again-off-again funding, which came through just weeks before the AIA meetings. But the result, Guide to Denver Architecture, published by Westcliffe Publishers, was worth the wait and the effort. The result is an indispensable handbook that's at least as valuable to our skyline as some of the buildings constructed in the past year.
Built on the cheap for less than $7 million, the genius of the brand-new Brighton Police Department and Municipal Court building is the way its designers, Denver's Roth & Sheppard Architects, orchestrated ordinary materials into a chic, sophisticated whole. The masonry block they used is the kind of thing usually employed for a Wal-Mart, but here it was used to create a structure that both reflects the high-plains topography of this agricultural town (through its exaggerated horizontality) and is thoroughly contemporary at the same time (also because of its exaggerated horizontality). Brighton now lays claim to one of the finest neo-modernist works in the region.
Built on the cheap for less than $7 million, the genius of the brand-new Brighton Police Department and Municipal Court building is the way its designers, Denver's Roth & Sheppard Architects, orchestrated ordinary materials into a chic, sophisticated whole. The masonry block they used is the kind of thing usually employed for a Wal-Mart, but here it was used to create a structure that both reflects the high-plains topography of this agricultural town (through its exaggerated horizontality) and is thoroughly contemporary at the same time (also because of its exaggerated horizontality). Brighton now lays claim to one of the finest neo-modernist works in the region.


One of the big Denver success stories of the last five years is the adaptation of historic industrial and commercial buildings into lofts -- the word 'condo' being so '80s. Lofts are now all the rage, which means that the city has begun to run out of appropriately sized old buildings; thus new buildings, often in the style of the old, have been built. Unfortunately, most of these are little more than also-rans from an architectural standpoint. Not so the Renaissance Off Broadway Lofts, which just opened on the edge of the Ballpark Neighborhood. Designed by Humphries Poli Architects, the building is thoroughly urbane, featuring fancy, polychromed brickwork and a skeletal steel cornice that seems to wittily comment on the historic buildings that were originally used for loft conversions. But visitors will be surprised to learn that this isn't a luxury building, but rather a project for low-income residents that was developed by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.
One of the big Denver success stories of the last five years is the adaptation of historic industrial and commercial buildings into lofts -- the word 'condo' being so '80s. Lofts are now all the rage, which means that the city has begun to run out of appropriately sized old buildings; thus new buildings, often in the style of the old, have been built. Unfortunately, most of these are little more than also-rans from an architectural standpoint. Not so the Renaissance Off Broadway Lofts, which just opened on the edge of the Ballpark Neighborhood. Designed by Humphries Poli Architects, the building is thoroughly urbane, featuring fancy, polychromed brickwork and a skeletal steel cornice that seems to wittily comment on the historic buildings that were originally used for loft conversions. But visitors will be surprised to learn that this isn't a luxury building, but rather a project for low-income residents that was developed by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.
Despite its name, new urbanism isn't exactly new. The highly vaunted style has turned out to be little more than old suburbanism in most places -- except that the buildings are closer together. And although most of the development at the old Lowry Air Force Base looks like a tight Highlands Ranch, a group of sensitive and intelligent townhomes and flats has been constructed by National Properties in the area of Fourth Avenue and Rosalyn Street. Called Officers' Row Lofthomes, the residences were designed by Christopher Carvell Architects of Denver and constructed of buff-colored brick, just like some of the historic buildings nearby. If most of the buildings that have mushroomed up at Lowry look like toadstools, the Officers' Row Lofthomes are the porcinis.

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