Although there's been a lot of new construction in the Golden Triangle, most of it has been absolutely dreadful, with mid-rises better suited to Centennial or Reunion sprinkled between big fat Greek high-rises. But there are some noteworthy exceptions, particularly the Golden Row Townhomes: three out-of-this-world neo-modernist townhouses. The detailing of the buildings is superb, with pierced planar walls creating a restrained and simultaneously complicated massing; also very neat is the orchestration of the rich array of materials, including metal, glass and stone. Sprocket Design-Build, headed up by Bill Moore, has only been around a few years, but it's clear this creative firm is building for the future.
The Central Platte Valley may be one of the oldest parts of the city, but today it looks completely new, with cool-looking modern architecture filling the once-dusty, desolate railyards. The most recent standout is Glass House, at 23 stories the tallest structure in the area. Designed by the multi-disciplin-ary firm Preston Partnership and developed by Wood Partners and East-West Partners, this condominium project includes two adjacent towers with lively cubic volumes that reflect off each other in the glass walls; the twin structures sit on a unified concrete podium that does double duty as a parking garage. Glass House has great views of both downtown and the Front Range -- but it's looking pretty good itself.
With fins on the roof reminiscent of a cool '50s cruiser, the swank, sleek Signature Centre presents a striking silhouette against the sky. But this building has far more going for it than flashy good looks: It's also environmentally friendly, designed by architect Binh Vinh and developed by Aardex to meet LEED certification. Its many ecological features -- including warmer air conditioners and individual ventilation and lighting systems that are switched off when not in use -- not only look good, but they do good, too.
The innermost stop on light rail's new southeast corridor, Louisiana and Pearl is also the most citified, with its lot-free "kiss-n-ride" designation (don't even try to park in the nearby residential neighborhood) and Mark Leese's welcoming "Jurassic Leaves" sculpture/shelter aboveground. But down below, under the bridge where you catch your ride, the station becomes a truly moving experience: T-Rex traffic rushes by as trains come and go, while Denver sculptor Ira Sherman's interactive metal-and-neon "Stange Machine" snakes above the platform, whimsical and sleekly spooky at the same time. This is the ultimate urban-transport experience.
If 17th Street is truly the Wall Street of the West, then the Ideal Building -- which now holds Colorado Business Bank -- lies at the intersection of art and commerce. At the two-story entrance, menacing marble bison guard bronze doors decorated with American Indian dance motifs. Inside, a frieze encircles the richly appointed lobby, paying tribute to the theme of money in history and its sacred importance in our lives today. Designed in 1907 by engineer Montana Fallis for Charles Boettcher's Ideal Cement Company, Denver's first multi-level, all-reinforced concrete building celebrates its hundredth anniversary this year. With interest compounded.
Just where Daniel Libeskind's new building planted Denver on the cultural map is still up for debate. But the weekend-long completion celebration definitely put our city at the center of the party map! From the 10 a.m. Saturday opening under sunny skies to a chilly Sunday-night close, the 35-hour party attracted everyone in Denver who gives a DAM. Watching patrons bump into art and knock their heads on the angled walls only added to the fun, and throughout the weekend, it was impossible not to run into an old acquaintance or make a new friend.
The opening celebration for the Highland Bridge took that old Field of Dreams cliche -- "If you build it, they will come" -- and gave it a modern twist: "If you build it and are not quite finished but all the speeches have been written, the entertainment booked and the catering tents rented, they will still come." And they did come, even though the Highland Bridge connecting Highland with the Platte Valley was still clearly months from completion, for festivities that included speeches, the release of some doves that caused at least one fender bender, and fireworks that came as a complete surprise to the Department of Transportation, which oversees I-25.
If you like to over-plan, are looking for a convenient excuse to cancel unwanted road trips or just want to enjoy the hassles of driving without leaving your home, let this Colorado Department of Transportation website put you in the virtual driver's seat. The site offers up-to-the-minute road conditions, weather information and travel times. Nervous drivers will particularly appreciate the one-click access to messages posted on any of the fixed variable signs stationed alongside various roadways, and voyeurs should enjoy the wide array of traffic cameras positioned around the state.
During the 2006 gubernatorial campaign, the highly partisan ProgressNowAction sent those who made a $10 donation something extra for their efforts: flip-flops emblazoned with the phrase "BOTH WAYS" and a photo of Republican Bob Beauprez. Proof once again that only a hypocritical stance and one false letter separate scandals from sandals.
This isn't your father's Conoco station -- unless your father is Jackie Chan. In addition to the usual independent, urban convenience-store hodgepodge of noodle bowls, outdated hair dye, magazines, 3.2 beer, adult diapers and miniature pipes, the sign that greets drivers heading out of downtown on Speer Boulevard promises "souvenirs." And how! Nothing says "I've Been to Denver" more than a jade bracelet, a pair of brass knuckles, an elegantly engraved gutting knife or a throwing star. Okay, maybe a beer-mug magnet, but this Conoco has those, too.

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