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Archive of posts filed under the Urban Form category.

Visualization of Land Devoted to Parking Downtown

By Ryan Keeney

As any regular reader of DenverInfill knows, we have no love for surface parking in our downtown core. Superficially we believe that they are eyesores, but more important than that, we believe that they are underutilized pieces of prime real estate that suck the vitality from what should be the most pedestrian-oriented part of the city. When you have large areas of parking, there is minimal foot traffic and nothing to engage the people on the streets. From the pedestrian’s perspective, it is essentially a wasteland.

Below are a series of images that show just how much land is consumed by surface parking lots and single-use garages. As DenverInfill’s newest contributor, I originally came up with the idea for our 3D Future Skyline feature. Now I have applied the same method to visualize just how much of our central city is consumed by parking.

Straight down and north oriented:


Tilted and looking southwest:


Wow, that’s a lot of parking! About 237 acres in fact, and 145 acres not counting the giant lots west of Speer. If it wasn’t clear before, it should now be truly apparent why we celebrate infill development here at DenverInfill. Just about every new building that goes up in downtown replaces a surface parking lot and, in turn, puts more feet on the street and draws more people to downtown. It is by every measure a higher and better use of the land.

While it is clear from these images that there are a ton of these parking craters in our downtown, the city has been making huge progress. Within only the past five years, dozens of surface parking lots have been converted to residences, stores, restaurants, offices, and hotels. DenverInfill is an advocate for this progress and we look forward to the day when all these holes in our urban fabric are repaired.


Ryan Keeney is a masters student at the University of Denver studying Geographic Information Science, urban form, and multi-modal transportation.

Denver’s 3D Future Skyline: July 2016 Update

Back in April, we announced a new three-dimensional feature that provides us with a better visual of all the infill going in around Central Denver. Here is a short description from our announcement post:

Thanks to Google Earth and the new way they’re rendering buildings in three dimensions, and thanks in particular to the newest member of the DenverInfill team, Ryan Keeney—starting today we will periodically feature a collection of views of the Downtown Denver and Cherry Creek skylines with the massing of buildings, proposed or under construction, added in.

With the Downtown Denver Non-Residential and Residential project posts back in late June, it’s fitting to revisit the 3D future skyline.

Our first post featured the 3D skyline from a higher elevation overview perspective. Since there are many perspectives and elevations to share, we are going to explore the future skyline mostly from a lower elevation in this post. Let’s get to it! Make sure you click each image to embiggen.

Downtown Denver looking north:

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Downtown Denver looking south:


Downtown Denver looking east:

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Downtown Denver looking northeast:


Downtown Denver looking southeast:


Denver Union Station up close:


Cherry Creek looking west:


Central Denver high-level overview from River North to Cherry Creek:


It is truly amazing how many projects are proposed and under construction around Central Denver. A huge thank you Ryan Keeney for keeping these models up to date so we can visualize all of this infill!

New DenverInfill Feature: Denver’s Future Skyline in 3D!

We are excited to launch a new feature here at DenverInfill: Denver’s future skyline in 3D!

Thanks to Google Earth and the new way they’re rendering buildings in three dimensions, and thanks in particular to the newest member of the DenverInfill team, Ryan Keeney—starting today we will periodically feature a collection of views of the Downtown Denver and Cherry Creek skylines with the massing of buildings, proposed or under construction, added in.

The buildings have been color coded to match our DenverInfill Project Map, where yellow is residential, orange is office, red is hotel, and blue is civic/other. We will add a new “3D Future Skyline” link on the right sidebar below the Project Map box so that you’ll be able to quickly access the current and previous versions of our 3D Future Skyline images. We plan to issue a new collection of 3D Future Skyline images on a quarterly basis or perhaps more frequently, as needed.

A few important caveats to note about the buildings modeled in 3D in these images:

  • Each 3D object represents a simple massing of the building that has been extruded to the planned height of the structure. In most cases, buildings have step-backs and other architectural treatments that reduce the mass and scale of the building, particularly on the upper floors. Therefore, the three-dimensional space these buildings occupy in model form is going to be greater than they will in reality—an “objects will appear larger than they really are” situation.
  • Similarly, building footprints typically have small setbacks here and there from the property line, as opposed to the simple rectangular footprint used in most of our models.
  • The 3D model-making tools in Google Earth are fairly crude, so the purpose of our new 3D Future Skyline images is to convey a general sense of how Denver’s urban core is growing and densifying, not necessarily to show a specific building in three-dimensions. If you want to see what a particular building will look like, read the blog posts for that project.
  • Uses within a mixed-use building are colored with a very “broad brush” you might say, with ground floors and other parts of buildings that are planned to have other uses, like retail or parking, colored as one of the primary uses found in the building.
  • Google updates their imagery on a fairly regular basis (annually, it seems of late), so at some point in the future, when Google next updates their 3D imagery and a project has been completed, we will remove the 3D model of the building from our database because its physical representation will appear within the Google aerial background.
  • Buildings shown in 3D are only those planned or under construction for which we have published a DenverInfill blog post. There are many projects “in the pipeline” or recently announced that we haven’t yet profiled on DenverInfill, so those project aren’t in our 3D model yet.

OK, let’s get to the images! Each is presented in 2400-pixel HD glory, so click, zoom, and enjoy!

Downtown Denver looking north:


Downtown Denver looking south:


Downtown Denver looking east:


Downtown Denver looking west:


LoDo and Union Station districts up close:


Central Business District up close:


Downtown Denver high-level overview:


Cherry Creek district looking northeast:


Cherry Creek district looking southeast:


That’s a lot of urban fabric-repairing going on!

As I mentioned, the credit for our 3D models goes to our new DenverInfill team member, Ryan Keeney. Ryan is a masters student at the University of Denver studying Geographic Information Science, urban form, and multi-modal transportation. When Ryan moved here from Indianapolis in 2015, he was amazed by the magnitude of infill occurring in Downtown Denver and was excited to witness its impact on the vibrancy of the city, so modeling urban development for DenverInfill allows Ryan to engage his technical skills while also contributing to the energy of Denver’s growth and revitalization. In addition to keeping our 3D Future Skyline files up-to-date, Ryan may also start reporting on new infill projects in the DU/South Denver areas on the blog. After graduation, Ryan’s goal is to start a GIS career in urban or transit planning. Thank you, Ryan Keeney, for your excellent contribution to DenverInfill!

I hope you enjoy DenverInfill’s 3D Future Skyline images as yet another way of experiencing the profound way in which the Mile High City is urbanizing and creating a more walkable, compact, and thriving urban core.

Six Years of Downtown Denver Infill… In One Chart!

Happy 2016, Denver!

We recently recapped the extent of multifamily residential and non-residential development in Downtown Denver since 2010 using maps and tables to show some of the basic attributes of the 142 different projects—completed, under construction, and proposed—that are reshaping Denver’s urban core. Remember the general premise behind DenverInfill: surface parking lots are soul-sucking black holes in the urban fabric of the city, and with each new infill development, we repair the urban fabric, add vitality through economic and social activity, and improve the walkability of the area. A few millennia of city-building have taught us that successful communities are those with an intact and coherent urban form, a mix of uses in a compact built environment, and an exceptional public realm oriented around the pedestrian. This is our goal for Downtown Denver.

To complete DenverInfill’s look back at the first six years of the decade and the remarkable transformation taking place in Downtown through infill development, I offer the following exhibit. It started out as a straight-forward infographic, and then as I kept fussing with it, it evolved into something a bit more artsy and elaborate. But either way, I had fun making it (gotta keep those Adobe Creative Cloud skills sharp!) and I hope you enjoy looking at it. Click to embiggen, of course, and yeah, it’s kinda big.


If PDF is more your style, then click here to view/download at maximum resolution.

Here’s to a successful and prosperous new year for Denver and for you!

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!