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Archive of posts filed under the Urban Form category.

Downtown Denver Infill Projects: A 15-Year Snapshot

The original DenverInfill website included Downtown-area infill projects planned or built between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2009—one complete decade. Since the start of 2010, all infill project-tracking and reporting duties have been handled exclusively here on the DenverInfill Blog (launched on July 5, 2005). With 2014 over, that means we now have fifteen years’ worth of projects we’ve been covering at DenverInfill!

To celebrate this milestone, I decided to prepare a graphic showing the footprint of all (or mostly all) of the infill projects in the Downtown Denver area that were completed between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2014 or are currently under construction. Click on the image below to view at full size, or click here for a huge version in PDF format.


A few notes about the image: The boundaries are Federal Boulevard on the west, Downing Street on the east, and 6th Avenue on the south. To the north, it goes just far enough to pick up the River North district below 38th Street. Proposed projects are not shown, nor are any adaptive reuse or historic preservation projects. Also, there are dozens of townhome projects that are not shown. I’ve included a few, but there are so many of these smaller (say, under twenty units or so) townhome projects being built in the downtown fringe areas that to attempt to capture them all was simply beyond the scope of this effort. This graphic is meant to be fun and interesting to look at and offers a broad 30,000-foot view (actually, 13,000-foot view according to Google Earth) of the magnitude of infill development in the Downtown Denver area in the past fifteen years. If I missed a few projects, don’t sweat it. This wasn’t meant to be a complete and accurate survey.

There are 305 projects shown. My very rough estimate is that they cover approximately 8 million square feet of ground or about 180 acres or 70 city blocks. By land use, they represent approximately 18,000 residential units, about 7 million square feet of office/commercial space and about 2 million square feet of civic/cultural/educational uses.

What I want you to take from this graphic is how far we have come as a community in repairing the urban fabric of our city center. One hundred years ago, a vacant or undeveloped parcel was a very rare thing in the Downtown area, and there were absolutely no surface parking lots. Downtown Denver in 1915 had a virtually complete urban fabric: blocks of buildings defined and separated by streets, streets defined and framed by blocks of buildings—the quintessential urban form of cities for millennia. This urban fabric was nearly decimated in the post-War era due to a combination of short-term land speculation, ill-conceived urban renewal programs, and a society obsessed with making it as easy and convenient as possible for everyone to drive their personal automobile anywhere at any time.

These infill projects represent our efforts to, essentially, restore the urban form of Downtown Denver of 1915. There are minor differences between the 1915 urban form and what we’re building in 2015 (today, mostly taller buildings and larger building footprints), but the basic form is the same: buildings that touch the property line, have (hopefully) good sidewalk appeal, and frame the street as a public space. A building’s urban form, street frontage, and spatial relationship to its neighbors, is more important to the overall vitality and success of an urban area than what the building “looks like” architecturally. That’s why our emphasis here at DenverInfill has always been about rebuilding central Denver’s urban fabric through infill development to create great streets and public spaces that bring people together and make them glad they’re in the Mile High City.

Happy 2015 Denver!

We Give Thanks to You, Denver

The holiday season is upon us and we here at DenverInfill would like to give thanks to the great city we live in.

Back in April, Ken Schroeppel and I went around central Denver creating a time-lapse video for the global One Day on Earth media campaign. On April 26, we had a 24-hour window to film around Denver to answer a specific question about our city. Totaling 4,842 photos, our time-lapse video attempts to answer the question: How do pedestrians interact with their city?

Saturday, April 26, 2014 was a typical Saturday in the Mile High City, and there were no major sporting events or conventions in town. As expected, the chilly morning didn’t bring many people out at first but, as the day warmed up, the amount of pedestrian activity increased considerably all over the city.

Shooting commenced at 5:06 AM to catch the sunrise, and ended at 7:55 PM when my last camera battery, out of seven, died as the skies darkened. Ken accompanied me for the entire shoot, helping carry equipment and transporting us to every location. This project would not have been nearly as amazing without Ken’s help, knowledge, and creative ideas. Thank you, Ken!

Once we shot the beautiful sunrise, we visited an additional 15 sites. We had the process down to a science: get to the site, setup, shoot 250 photos at 4-second intervals, take down, and move on. There was no looking back and no retakes.

Without further ado, we would like to present One Day on Earth – One Day in Denver!

In case you missed it, about a year ago we premiered our first time-lapse video, A Day in Denver; a title that would prove to be coincidentally similar to 2014’s One Day on Earth – One Day in Denver media campaign. Make sure you check it out!

Ken and I and everyone at DenverInfill and DenverUrbanism thank you all for following along with us as we chronicle Denver’s remarkable growth and development and its transformation into an even more amazing urban place. We love our city!

Happy Thanksgiving, Denver!

Denver Union Station: Final Update – After Dark

This is it. The last ‘final update’ of the incredible Denver Union Station project. Today, we will be looking at each element of this project at night. Denver Union Station is great to see during the daytime, but it’s even better when the sun is down and the lights are on! So whether you are…

A kid (or adult) playing in the fountains at Wynkoop Plaza…

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An observer watching the fountains from above…

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A passenger catching the California Zephyr headed for Chicago…

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Or a passenger getting off the California Zephyr in Denver …

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And are having your first drink at the Terminal Bar….


Or a late night commuter taking the light rail home, or to work…

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Or a pedestrian, talking a night stroll through the city…

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This is what you see. Brilliant lights, illuminating a grand project. As I’ve said many times in the past: Union Station, you look absolutely incredible. I and many others are very happy with the outcome and are looking forward to the many great decades ahead!

Denver Union Station: Final Update – A Look Back

I didn’t start posting on Denver Union Station until Update 103, when construction of the project was in full swing. Before that, Rick Anstey was the Denver Union Station guru and avid poster. At the time Update 103 came out, the underground bus facility was capped from Chestnut to Wewatta, the old light rail station was long gone, the parking lots were torn up along Wynkoop Street, and construction for the North Wing Building had just started. It was still a whole different story than it is today; there was still a lot of dirt and not much vertical construction, as everything was still underground. In this post every ‘before’ picture will be accompanied by a present day photo. Let’s begin!

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Update 103 was also the last time we had a look inside the historic station. Remember Ken’s Union Station tours? That particular day attracted a large crowd as he and Dana Crawford discussed the future of the historic station.

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Fast forward to Update 105 and 106. I had my first hard hat tour of the project, which was very exciting for both DenverInfill readers and me personally. The foundation for the canopy had just started to go in and the underground bus facility was still a concrete shell.

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Then things started to get exciting above ground. My favorite piece in the whole project, the commuter rail station canopy, started to go vertical.

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As months passed, there was a lot of visible construction which made for some exciting photos. In Update 115, Ken snapped a great picture of the first fabric pieces getting installed to the commuter rail station canopy.

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Jumping to Update 121, the plazas were starting to take shape and the historic station was wrapped in scaffolding while it was undergoing a full restoration. The North Wing building had just topped out and the glass facade was peeking out from under the plastic.

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Then the most exciting aspects of the project came around: sections were starting to open to the public. It was before my time reporting on Union Station when the light-rail station opened back in May 2012 however, I did get to witness the 17th Street Gardens, commuter rail train station, underground bus facility, historic station, and Wynkoop Plaza opening!

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This project has completely transformed what was once a barren wasteland situated between two great neighborhoods. Denver Union Station is now the new hot spot in Downtown Denver and will continue thriving as the private sector developments keep rolling in. This was my personal experience from when I started covering this project to sitting here tonight typing up this post. Needless to say, it has been quite a ride. Welcome back to Downtown Denver, we are so glad you are back! I’m looking forward to hearing your experiences and stories during this project’s journey!

Denver Union Station: Final Update – Grand Opening

Here we are. After all these years we have finally made it to our final updates on the huge and incredible, Denver Union Station project. So how exactly do you wrap a project up of this scale? Instead of just wrapping up in a single post, we will have multiple posts throughout the week: revisiting some milestones of the project, sharing personal experiences, and of course providing ample amounts of photos in each post! To kick off the week, let’s start with the grand opening ceremonies that took place this last weekend!


Fountains! The new fountains on Wynkoop Plaza were a huge hit on Saturday. Throughout the day, children played in the water and ran back and forth on Wynkoop Plaza as the jets shot water high and low.

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Wynkoop Street between 16th Street and 18th Street was closed allowing for tents, food trucks, and a stage. The activation of this entire space was as great as everyone would have hoped; pedestrians activating both the plaza and the street.

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Here are some above views of the opening ceremonies. Most of the attention was focused toward the south and central part of Wynkoop Plaza, asking the question, what’s going on with the north end of the plaza? There are two main reasons for the lack of activation. One, the 18th Street Pedestrian bridge is still not open and two, finishing touches are still underway such as adding movable tables and chairs. There is no set timeframe for these two things however, like all newly completed projects, things can only get better.

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Dana Crawford front and center! The short ceremony attracted a big crowd and as soon as the speeches were over, people lined up with their tickets to check out the inside of the historic station.

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As expected, there were waves of people moving throughout the station. Visitors had full access to the ground floor with all of the retail in the Great Hall open. For a complete look around the historic station, head on over to our coverage from the soft opening!

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What exactly is going on in the historic station? It’s part train station and part living room. There are benches, couches, and comfy chairs for passengers and passerby to relax, grab a bite to eat, and enjoy a refreshing drink. This is a concept that has never been done and is completely experimental. Time will tell how well this concept will work in the historic station but for the time being, it is incredibly neat!

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Here is a sampling of the retail spaces along the Great Hall. The spaces are small yet very functional with a very large variety of commodities, from food to books to boutique outlets.

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Because there are so many retail spaces around the station, there is a lot to explore! Have you found this awesome sign yet?


That’s a wrap on our grand opening coverage! Stay tuned for many more pictures, and posts throughout the week!

Denver Union Station Update #127: Fountains!

Another huge milestone in the Denver Union Station redevelopment has been reached: the fountains on Wynkoop Plaza are up and running! The weather was great today and pedestrians were already enjoying the newly opened section of Wynkoop Plaza; including children playing in the fountains! Here are a couple of pictures, thanks to our very own Ken Schroeppel.

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This is a very exciting stage in the redevelopment as July 26th, the grand opening date of both the plaza and historic station, nears! We will see you there in 31 days!

Denver Union Station: Transit Center Grand Opening Part 5

For the final part of our Denver Union Station Transit Center grand opening coverage, we are going to head back under the very impressive commuter rail train canopy. This was the first completed piece of the transit center when it opened to Amtrak back in February, however our coverage would not be complete if we didn’t photograph it at grand opening!

There are a total of eight tracks, with six of them under the canopy. Tracks 4 and 5 will be used for Amtrak and private excursion trains. These tracks are also more shallow in the ground than the other tracks. As previously mentioned, Tracks 4 and 5 also provide access to the underground bus terminal.

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The other tracks, which will be used for the commuter rail trains, are deeper; much like your typical subway track.

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Here are a couple more pictures from under the canopy. The pedestrian bridge is still closed, but we suspect it will be open by the time the historic station opens on July 12th.

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That’s a wrap on our grand opening coverage! You are now up to speed on the grand opening festivities, underground bus facility, Wynkoop Plaza, and now the new commuter rail train station. As a great bonus, we even got some awesome aerial shots from Shawn Murry of CloudBase Aerial Imaging. The next time we cover the Union Station redevelopment will be when the historic station opens on July 12th. We’ll see you then!

Denver Union Station: Transit Center Grand Opening Part 3

Today, for the third part of our grand opening coverage, we are going to head to the front of the station to take a look at the progress being made at Wynkoop Plaza. On DenverInfill, the last time we covered Wynkoop Plaza was back in September, when the granite pavers were not even in place yet. A lot has changed in eight months!

The passageway between the commuter rail train hall and Wynkoop Plaza is now open. On the South Wing building, there are two patio spaces along this passageway along with a patio space on the plaza itself. The patio with the red umbrellas belongs to the Thirsty Lion and the other patio, that is currently empty, is for a future tenant who should be occupying the space within the next few months.

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The fountain portion of the plaza is not yet complete but has made some great progress. Granite pavers are now in place and the entire fountain system has been capped. This portion of the plaza will be complete when the historic station opens on July 12th.

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The north side of Wynkoop Plaza is in a similar situation. The portion in front of the North Wing building is complete and work is wrapping up in front of the historic station.

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Later this week, we will be looking at the two wing buildings exclusively so you will be able to see, in more detail, how the buildings interact with the plaza. We still have more grand opening coverage coming your way; up next: a unique perspective of the grand opening ceremonies!