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Denver Union Station Update #122

It’s been about six weeks since we last looked at the massive Denver Union Station redevelopment so not a lot has changed. However, in our last update we looked at the project from afar and didn’t really get a closer look at all of the great individual elements. Unfortunately, this isn’t an inside tour but, armed with a great zoom lens and thanks to some great vantage points around Union Station, I was able to get some great close up shots. So you can see more detail, I bumped up the resolution on all these photos. Make sure you click to embiggen!

Let’s start off with the 18th Street pedestrian bridge. This is very similar to the Millennium Bridge when coming from Downtown. The elevator will be situated to the left with a bike track on the side of the stairs so you don’t have to carry your bike over the bridge. On the Union Station side, there are four sets of stairs going down to the commuter rail platforms which will also lead you to Wewatta Street.

 

The metal screen that is going across the bridge isn’t at all intrusive. You will be able to watch the trains under you and still feel out in the open!

 

The north side of Wynkoop Plaza is coming along very nicely. The trees have been planted, the hardscaped benches are starting to get installed, and it looks like it will only be a matter of time before we will start to see the granite pavers go in.

 

Here is an above view of the north side of Wynkoop Plaza.

The south side of the plaza is not as far along as the north side because of a few reasons: The South Wing building started after the North Wing, and since this side of the plaza will have the magnificent fountain feature, a lot more underground work had to be completed first. The fountains however are looking more and more complete!

 

Speaking of the Wing Buildings, they are also starting to come together making a huge difference along Wynkoop Street. The first floor of these buildings will be ground floor retail and 4-stories of office space above. Floors 2 through 4 are covered in brick and the 5th floor has a modern glassy facade. Both buildings have glass curtain walls facing the plazas. Here is the North Wing Building which will be occupied by IMA Financial.

 

And the South Wing Building which will be occupied by Antero Resources.

 

Now let’s head over to the commuter rail train hall. There has been a lot of concern about shelter from the elements when waiting for the train. Fear not! If you look closely you can see each platform will have some kind of shelter. Plus, we have 300 or so days of sunshine a year, we wouldn’t want to be completely enclosed while waiting for the train!

 

Here are a couple more shots of the completed commuter rail canopy. The land towards 16th Street in front of the canopy is part of the L-Shaped ‘A Block’ and will get developed one day so let’s enjoy this great open view of the canopy while it lasts; not saying having it closed in wouldn’t be a great sight as well!

 

Let’s wrap up with a shot of the newly opened Wewatta Street. It isn’t very pedestrian friendly at the moment because of three factors: 21-story, 13-story, and 10-story buildings are all under construction between 16th and 17th Street! Also, if you look closely, you can see the continuation of the 17th Street Gardens in the foreground of the Wewatta Pavilion.

May 9th is the day we will be able to experience the brand new Union Station. 8 months to go!


Denver Union Station Update #105

On Wednesday I had the wonderful opportunity to get an insider’s look at the Denver Union Station project. There will be two parts to this tour; the surface and the underground bus terminal. Today we will be focusing on what’s happening on the surface. I would like to thank Hunter Sydnor of Kiewit for the wonderful tour and the vast amount of information about this development.

One of the very exciting elements of this entire development is the commuter rail canopy. Now that the structure for the bus terminal is nearing completion, as far as the surface is concerned, work on the canopy can begin. What we’re looking at in the photos below are the foundations for the trusses and where the canopy is going to be anchored. The trusses for the canopy are being shipped here and then painted in Denver.

 

Below you will see another set of foundations being set for the trusses of the canopy. Needless to say, this thing is going to be massive. It stretches all the way down to the very north tip of the historic building and almost an entire city block west. I also took a picture of how large the anchors are going to be for these trusses. Impressive!

 

In this picture you can see the bus box is starting to be sealed in. In the next update, we will cover more of the structural elements. Even though this is the second phase of the bus terminal to be built, it is different than the first phase closer to the light rail station due to the future commuter rail tracks above it.

Next up, we have the 17th Street Gardens and pedestrian spaces. 17th Street has been paved up to Wewatta Street and stop lights are beginning to be installed in preparation of Wewatta Street being paved through. Work has also begun on the 17th Street Gardens plaza, one of the premier public spaces in the whole redevelopment. As you can see, pavers are beginning to make their way up towards the station along with the tress and lighting elements. For some great information and basic framework on the 17th Street Gardens head over to Ken’s post here.

 

As a little bonus, I was able to get real close to the Cadence site. I asked if it was easy to get along with the private sector developments since there is a lot of different construction projects around this field. The answer was yes. One of the conditions of having so much going on is the site for Cadence is very crowded. There’s not a lot of room around these parcels because of the Union Station Redevelopment.

On the next post, we will be going underground and looking at how much is coming along in bus box! It seems like every week there’s something new and exciting happening here!


Better Denver Bond Projects at DenverUrbanism

In case you’re not visiting our companion blog DenverUrbanism as frequently as you should be, please check out our new series summarizing a few of the better Better Denver Bond projects, including this first one on what’s planned for Broadway and Colfax.


July 2010 – Downtown Street Reconstruction

Three street reconstruction projects are underway in Downtown Denver. Here’s a quick look at these civic investments—two of which will greatly enhance the pedestrian environment in the vicinity.

First, let’s start with the one that is a straight-forward street reconstruction project. 15th Street is being rebuilt in concrete between the bridge over the South Platte River and the intersection of 15th/29th/Boulder/Umatilla (one of those fun grid-colliding Downtown intersections). As a Lower Highland resident, I can vouch for the fact that 15th Street through there, particularly around the Platte Street intersection, has been a bumpy ride for years. The street reconstruction is about 50% complete, as you can see from these photos:

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Next is Larimer Street between 15th and 17th. This project includes reconstructing the street in concrete (from the current asphalt) as well as removing one traffic lane and widening the sidewalk with the reclaimed space. The sidewalk expansion will occur on the Writer Square/Tabor Center side of the block. While the Larimer sides of those two mixed-use complexes are not all that interesting from a pedestrian perspective, they’re more interesting than the Larimer Place/Barclay condo towers on the other side of the street. Bulb-outs (or, if you prefer, bump-outs) will be installed at each intersection, shortening the crosswalk distance across Larimer even more. Currently, Larimer is four through lanes in this area, and at 15th, the left two lanes continue as through lanes into Larimer Square and the right two lanes are right-turn-only lanes onto 15th. After the reconstruction, there will be three through lanes, and at 15th Street the left lane will continue into Larimer Square, the right lane will be right-turn-only onto 15th, and the center lane will be a combo through/right-turn lane.

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Finally, there’s the Colfax/13th/Tremont intersection. Chris blogged about this project a couple of months ago. That project is now under construction. Here’s a Google Earth aerial of the existing intersection (an automobile-oriented mess) and the diagram Chris provided of the reconfigured, more-pedestrian-friendly, new intersection:

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Here’s a photo of the corner I took this morning:

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There are more infrastructure improvements planned for the Downtown area coming up… topics for future blogs.


You Are Invited: The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces

William Whyte was an American urbanist who used the direct observation method for understanding and analyzing how people use public spaces. Whyte authored numerous books on cities and public spaces and was considered a leading expert on pedestrian behaviors. One of his most regarded books was the 1980 title “The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces” which was made into a one-hour movie in 1988. The film is quite interesting, surprisingly humorous at times, and a must-see for anyone interested in urban public spaces.

With the design currently underway for several significant public spaces at Denver Union Station, the Union Station Advocates has teamed up with real estate firm Urban Market Partners and the local chapters of the American Planning Association and the American Society of Landscape Architects to arrange for a public viewing of Whyte’s “The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces” movie, followed by an open discussion about Union Station’s two major public spaces (17th Street Gardens and Wynkoop Plaza). The discussion will be facilitated by Ellen Ittelson, senior planner with the Denver planning office, and your DenverInfill blogger, Ken Schroeppel.

The event will be held Thursday, June 17 from 5:00 to 7:30 PM at 1430 Delgany (white building with the flowery facade next to the Waterside Lofts, just down the street from the Museum of Contemporary Art). The event is FREE to the public, although a small cash donation at the door would be greatly appreciated to help cover our costs. Light refreshments will be available. YOU are invited!

Here’s a flyer:

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We hope to see you Thursday for urbanism-at-the-movies night!


18th Street Pedestrian Bridge

The new 18th Street pedestrian bridge opened this weekend! The bridge, officially known now as the Union Gateway Bridge (although I suspect everyone will still call it the 18th Street Pedestrian Bridge), connects the Riverfront Park and Union Station districts in the Central Platte Valley. The bridge crosses over the Consolidated Main Line (CML) freight tracks and, in a few months, it will also span the tail tracks for the relocated light rail station that will be built a block away at 17th Street and the CML. Let’s take a trip across the bridge, starting from the Union Station side.

A view of the bridge with the Glass House and the Manhattan in the background, and the copper cladding on the elevator cores:

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The new streetscape along the northeast side of 18th Street, and an overview of site prep work for the big Union Station project:

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Looking back at Downtown, and a look down at where the plaza at the base of the bridge will connect to the northern end of the new light rail platform:

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More Union Station site prep work, and the bridge from the Riverfront Park side:

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Click here for a few more details about the bridge from a recent Denver Business Journal article.


16th Street Mall Concepts

As a follow-up to the public meeting of a couple weeks ago, the consultant team for the 16th Street Mall urban design plan is preparing to bring current concepts to the public in open houses next Wednesday and Thursday.  Three broad concepts are currently on the table.  These concepts have considered – among other things – the history of the Mall and its materials, the observed manner in which people use the Mall, and the value judgments of a number of constituents of the Mall – including retailers, downtown residents, accessibility advocates, police, RTD, and the BID.

The concepts outline three alternatives for the future of the Mall.  These range from little intervention to consideration of a broader downtown context.  It should be noted that the technical details and block-by-block plans have not been developed at this point – with the intent to gather public input before taking a preferred concept to detailed development.  The options include the following:

(please note, all images are courtesy ZGF Architects and in each case the north side of the street is to the left)

Option 1. 

 021610_Option1

This concept maintains the existing design of the Mall framework, maintaining the median space between the shuttle lanes through the central portion of the Mall.  Efforts would be made to organize furnishings and vendor operations to improve the overall use of the Mall, as well as to mitigate existing accessibility issues, but the design of the street would be largely unchanged.

Option 2.

021610_Option2

The intent of Option 2 is to enhance the use and social opportunities of the Mall through a reorganization of circulation and amenities.  In this concept, the central portion of the Mall would be reconfigured to the assymetric section currently found on both the east and west ends of the Mall – locating the west-bound shuttle lane within the current median (this would not impact the existing trees or lights, as the width of the median is adequate to accommodate the shuttles).

This option would allow restaurant patios on the north side of the street to expand nearly to the existing flow line of the street, while the existing west-bound lane would be used primarily for pedestrian movement.  In cases where restaurant patios are not found, vendor carts and other amenities would located in the north walkway – with pedestrian circulation shifting to the north (as illustrated in the secend Option 3 diagram below).  In addition, a third row of trees is suggested, providing additional shade to the Mall.

The design team has studied the effect of this concept on the paving pattern, and believes that the historic pattern can accommodate the scheme.

Option 3.

021610_Option3

Option 3 takes the previous option to a whole new level, suggesting the relocation of the west-bound shuttle to 15th Street.  The concept does all of the things that Option 2 does, while also allowing for the potential accommodation of bicycles on the Mall.  Further, it places a focus on 15th Street – a place that is almost forgotten when it comes to walkability and retail viability.

Additional information is available on the Downtown Denver Partnership’s website.

It’s an exciting time for the 16th Street Mall, and it’s our time as a community to have a say in its future.  So get on out to the open houses next week or attend future public meetings!  You can also become a friend of the Mall of Facebook and give input that way.  Whatever the medium, just make yourself heard!


16th Street Mall Urban Design Plan – Public Meeting TONITE!

As many know, the 16th Street Mall is currently the centerpiece of an important conversation.  A technical assessment completed in the Fall of 2009 investigated the construction and economic viability of the Mall’s existing surface.  Phase 2 – an Urban Design Plan focused on imaging the Mall of the next 30 years – is currently on-going… and tonite is an opportunity to see what designers and the project’s Steering Committee are considering. 

The presentation will include 3 alternative concepts for the Mall’s functional, operational, and physical future.  And as if that weren’t enough to get you excited, Laurie Olin (one of the original designers of the Mall and an internationally-respected landscape architect) will be on had to offer his impressions.  The details below:

16th Street Mall Urban Design Plan Public Meeting #2, Thursday February 4 (today)

5:30 – 7:30 pm, Wellington Webb Building, Room 1.B.6 (enter from Court Place)