Denver’s Emerging Skyline

A couple of high-rise projects underway in Downtown Denver have climbed high enough to take their place on the Denver skyline.

In this view from my perch in the Highland district, the 45-story Four Seasons project on the right is starting to block the view of the Curtis Hotel, which it will eventually eclipse by over 200 feet.

In between the Curtis Hotel and Brooks Tower is a little corner of the beautiful Gothic-Deco Mountain States Bell building, along with its new under-construction neighbor, the 41-story Spire project. Eventually, the Spire will rise above the Curtis and climb to about 60 feet taller than the top of the Hyatt on the left.

By | 2010-01-31T21:37:22+00:00 September 7, 2008|Categories: Skyline|21 Comments


  1. Christopher September 7, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    This is great to see. Today I was on 6th headed towards I-25 and noticed how far these projects are coming along. I can't wait to see the impact the DNC has on development downtown.

    Other exciting news…the ULI comes to town next week. Anyone attending?

  2. Scooter Thompson September 8, 2008 at 12:04 am

    Ken, great photo! Is the new 1900 at the Millenium Bridge tall enough for you to see as well? It seems like it would be.

    On another topic, I walked past the new Sugar Cube building this weekend and didn't even realize it. It's done and people are starting to inhabit it. It turned out pretty neat looking. I would have loved to see it a bit taller, though!

    I wish our city planners would play more SimCity and get an idea of what cities look like where every building is between 10 and 20 stories. They don't look too spectacular. Thank goodness for The Spire and the Four Seasons for leaping up to the 40s, but I do hope we'll get some people soon brave enough to tap the 60s and 80s. We seem to be stuck in our old "the airport is too close" mentality that prevented buildings from being any taller than the current tallest. Well, it's been 13 years, and the airport couldn't be further away and not be in Kansas, so come on, let's get vertical, vertical, let's get vertical-woo!

  3. FrancoRey September 8, 2008 at 1:50 am

    So I guess I am confused; what will be the official roof or total height of the Spire? I have heard/seen 483 feet, as well as 525 feet on SSP. The Hyatt is 489, right? So is the Spire going to be 549 feet? I guess I have never heard that height before, but 489 + 60 is 549. The taller the better! Please confirm this Ken. Thanks!

  4. pizzuti September 8, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    How is the Four Seasons going to compare in height to the Brooks Tower?

    Everything is listed in number of stories, not feet. But one story on an office building tends to be around 13-14 feet while a story on an apartment building or hotel is more like 10 feet.

    The Brooks Tower, residential, is 10 feet per floor, so 42 floors reach 420 feet.

    Is the Four Seasons only going to be 450 feet by comparison? That would make it the 7th tallest in Denver, not counting its decorative spike. I thought it was going to be a little taller than that.

    If we bump up each Four Seasons floor to 11 feet, we get 495 feet, a little better, but still over 200 feet LESS than Republic Plaza. But I thought I remember reading somewhere that it would be in the 500s.

  5. holygrail33 September 8, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Any word on Tabor II? And across the street from there today they were putting up a protected walkway.. is that just for building remodeling? (where the t-mobile store is)…

  6. mr1138 September 8, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    I have no problem with having height restrictions in LoDo. A city like Manhattan is limited by its geography (it's on an island), but a city like Denver is not. Limiting heights to preserve the historic character of 30 or so city blocks will not stop Denver from becoming urban. Some of the greatest urban cities in the world (Namely the European ones like Paris and London) have very few buildings above 15 stories. Denver has plenty of room in Central and Upper downtown, and hopefully in Arapahoe Square in the future to build skyscrapers. I personally think a "skirt" of shorter buildings around the edge of downtown will make the skyline even more attractive.

    Furthermore, I don't think "mentality" is the problem keeping Denver from getting larger buildings. A single residential skyscraper is the size of a small suburban neighborhood. Development sadly has MUCH more to do with economics than us urban fanboys would like to admit. I have faith however that as Denver grows and becomes more urban, the demand will develop for us to finally get that elusive "new tallest."

  7. Jellyneck September 8, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Spire = 474'-4 1/2"

  8. Eric September 8, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    excellent progress! im also wondering the status on tabor II

  9. Ken September 9, 2008 at 9:10 am

    The Curtis Hotel as 350 feet, and the Hyatt is 420 feet to the roofline of the taller tower, and 489 to the very top of the illuminated spire thingy.

    Meanwhile, I believe the Spire project will be about 480 feet and the Four Seasons will be 524 feet to the roofline and 640 feet to the tip of the spire.

  10. Levi September 9, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    1900 Sixteenth will indeed be in the foreground of this photo and will help finish out the 16th Street mall all the way to the Millennium Bridge, seamlessly connecting downtown and LoDo with the Central Platte Valley and the Highlands. The eventual (hopefully soon) construction of 1900's Tower 2 and 1601 Wewatta will complete Denver's landmark axis.

    I also agree with Scooter. Vertical, Denver, vertical. We have several 40-50 story buildings and will be adding two or three more great 'scrapers (Four Seasons, Spire, and Two Tabor), but we don't have any towers in the 90+ story range. Let's shoot for the stars, we know Denver can do it. Think about how great a Hancock Tower would look downtown. Almost twice as tall as the Republic building.

    Denver, let's make big plans that stir people's hearts. We need a new 'tallest' for the 2 million people expected to move here over the next several decades. We're working on the most ambitious transit expansion in the nation (world?)…

    Let's elevate our city to the skys!

  11. A test blog September 10, 2008 at 11:52 am

    I say 'bah' to height. Take a trip to Portland and tell me that isn't a great city. They have very buildings over 200 feet, much less in the range people here want.

    I'd much rather have a sea of lower buildings that complete a true urban streetscape as opposed to a few big towers surrounded by parking lots. If we build big, that's what we end up with. Lets build a urban Denver, before we start focusing on how impressive our skyline is. The density and increased center focus will organically lead to higher buildings, but not before.

  12. mymilehi September 10, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    I am actually offended by the notion, some of you have, that only skyscrapers can grace the skyline. I think its very safe to say that Denver won't see any 90+ story skyscrapers, even if 2 million people end up moving here. The tallest should only belong to the people, and not to a major corporation(s). I suggest A lattice tower of some sort, like the Eiffel tower, but thinner and modern.

  13. Eric September 10, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    umm… i think that its fine if our tallest tower is a business building. it shows financial and business prosperity in the city.

  14. mymilehi September 11, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Is that so, Eric? Even if the economy is in the dumps, having a tall skyscraper would make us think otherwise? I guess from your point of view, the tallest should belong only to the few, and not the many! Very, very elitist! I am fairly confident that most ordinary Denver residents would CONSIDER funding a monument that stands for them, since it's the people who make Denver the great city that it is.

  15. Jellyneck September 11, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    I agree with those who say shorter is better. Forget about Portland. What about DC, Paris, Berlin and London? Tall buildings in cities without border constraints do nothing but build somebody's ego. Think how fantastic Arapaho Square could be if it was filled with 10-20 story mixed use buildings?

    Cleveland, Pittsburgh, indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Atlanta all have taller buildings than Denver – and it doesn't make any of them great.

  16. Saint September 11, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    I agree with test blog. 5 to 10 story buildings make for often the best ground level culture, and it's also the most organic and natural method of growth. Just look at Cap Hill or any of the other hoods versus the CBD. Outside the Mall, there isn't much by way of culture in the CBD. Closest thing you've got is LoDo, which again, is all 2 to 10 story buildings.

    It was the era of the skyscraper that defecated on Denver's downtown. Everyone wanted to build a few towers and then tear up everything else to make room for parking. Do none of you remember that story? When demand for towers comes then towers will come.

  17. toast2042 September 11, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    The difference being that this time we won't surround our new towers with parking lots and the street level won't be just lobbies. Why not tall *and* street-scaped?

  18. Freddie September 13, 2008 at 1:21 am

    I think taller is better I have to admit, but I'd much rather have three 40-story buildings than one 100-story building. I'd rather have a downtown along the lines of Vancouver. That town is smaller than Denver – maybe barely smaller, but smaller nonetheless – yet they have a fantastic downtown with TONS of residents. Countless skyrise condos. Toss one building over 80 stories in that skyline and it would be completely out of place – but not nearly as out of place as it would be in Denver. A more dense and urban downtown with more skyrises will make Denver's downtown appear larger anyway – IF skyline appearance alone is what you care about.

    And no, Denver can't do it. I'm sorry but the market just isn't there for a 100 story building. Remember the Lawrence building across the street from the 4 Seasons? It got scaled down to a smaller building and STILL couldn't make it off of the ground. And how many other proposed tall buildings – of all uses – have failed to make it out of the ground? I lost count.

    I'd rather not have one obnoxiously large building downtown that takes attention away from everything else and has more novelty value than functionality. I'd rather have a big bad downtown. Many decades from now, when Denver has a big bad downtown that begins to approach the size of say downtown of Chicago, THEN perhaps a 100 story building will work without making Denver look like a small city with a one-building skyline.

  19. pizzuti September 14, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    I doubt a 100-story tower is even in the cards, Freddie. Tall towers are built for visibility, and in Denver you can do that with a 60-story tower which would still be the tallest building in the state. If you need more office space why not build a second shorter tower, which costs less? If we get a new tallest I wouldn't expect it to be much more than 80 floors maximum.

    I'm not even sure if the city would approve a 100-story tower.

  20. Saint September 15, 2008 at 10:24 am

    I'm sure a 100 story tower would block a view plane somewhere anyway…

  21. holygrail33 September 15, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    My guess would be that we won't see a new tallest any time soon – even within the next ten years.

    As much as I'd like a new tallest – yes, 80 stories would be aweseome – we need to fill in all the vacant lots in and surrounding downtown first. When free land becomes sparser, THEN developers will look up. Not to mention (it has been said above) street level activity is FAR more important to a vibrant downtown than one tall building.

    Denver – keep up the good work with INFILL projects, and the new tallest will come.

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