DIA Hotel: Is It a Mustache? A Pirate Ship? A Half-Pipe?

Denver International Airport
has an image problem. This fall, in honor of twenty very successful years, the airport introduced a new abbreviation — DEN, rather than DIA, which lines up with the FAA abbreviation but defies two decades of usage — as well as a new logo based on the iconic tent roof of the main terminal. And now, finally, the airport has the hotel that was promised from the very beginning. But the 500-room Westin Hotel and Conference Center, which opened Friday, blocks the view of that roof with the massive, hulking shape of…

A bird, according to global architecture firm Gensler, which designed the hotel. “Building upon imagery of flight and aviation, the sleek form resembles a bird with its wings extended as it hovers above the public plaza, framing and ascending the acclaimed tents of the Jeppesen Terminal,” the Gensler website says optimistically.

So far, though, visitors haven’t been able to see past the hotel, which they describe as looking like everything from a mustache to a pirate ship (above) to a whale’s tale. Or, in the immortal words of Airplane, maybe it’s a “hat or a brooch or a pterodactyl!”

What do you make of DEN’s new whotel?

Bow tie: It looks like the architects might have really tied one on when they came up with the design for this hotel.

Mustache: Fittingly, the Westin opened in the month that’s come to be known as Movember. Who knows if that was intentional?

Pilot wings: Will the next generation even know that airplane attendants once gave away free pins to kids? They’ve gone the way of complimentary sodas.

Whale’s tale: Thar she blows! And according to some critics, “blow” is the perfect word to use in connection with this design.

Half-pipe: Shred alert! If the tents of the terminal roof can be viewed as mountains, now they have their own terrain park.

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