SugarSquare Update #2

Let’s go inside the infill at one of the smallest development projects in downtown: SugarSquare, the 10,800 square foot addition to the historic Sugar Building and sibling to SugarCube.

The four-story SugarSquare is filling in a 25-foot wide gap between the six-story Sugar Building and the two-story historic neighbor at 1540 Wazee. There definitely was a building once on this site, as the project team at Urban Villages found evidence of an old foundation during excavation. But we don’t know what it looked like as no one can find a photograph of the structure that formerly occupied the gap.

We do know what the new SugarSquare will look like though, thanks to the nice rendering below from Semple Brown Design, showing SugarSquare’s minimalist glass-and-steel design. A peek through a window from inside the Sugar Building shows SugarSquare rising on the other side of the glass. Some of these windows will be converted into doors, allowing movement between the old and the new structures for the office tenant that is leasing both spaces.

SugarSquare doesn’t quite extend all the way to the rear property line, as the photo below taken from the alley shows. But SugarSquare does fill virtually the entire width of the narrow lot, leaving only a small gap with the neighboring building at 1540 Wazee. If the neighbor’s 1880s-era brick wall doesn’t look plumb, that’s because it isn’t—a detail that added complexity to the design and construction of SugarSquare.

Inside on the ground floor, the historic Sugar Building’s brick wall remains exposed along with the new structure’s steel beams. Open stairways lead to the second floor and the basement, where a passage connects to the Sugar Building’s underground level.

Moving up to the second floor, we can get a better view of SugarSquare’s steel beams that adjoin it to the Sugar Building. The third floor, fourth floor, and roof are only partially in place, creating at this moment in time a neat stair-step effect to the building’s cross section.

That’s as far up inside the building we could get but, thanks to my tour guide Jesse Bank from Urban Villages, we were able to check out SugarSquare from above via the Sugar Building’s roof. Here are a few vertigo-inducing shots looking down on SugarSquare, including a panorama even:

Bonus photos!
While we were up on the roof of the Sugar Building, we couldn’t help but take a few shots of the surrounding downtown area. Enjoy!

By | 2017-09-12T21:32:20+00:00 August 27, 2017|Categories: Infill, Lower Downtown, Office, Urbanism|Tags: |9 Comments


  1. Dan August 27, 2017 at 11:57 am

    Thanks for the update!! I was starting to have withdrawal.
    So many things going on in Denver yet so few SSP former willing to get out and take pics. Weird.
    But thanks to you, Ken and Ryan, those of us that aren’t in Denver anymore still stay connected. Very much appreciate your work!!!

  2. ErikR August 28, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    So glad to see a fresh update! I really enjoy projects like these – it seems that Denver developers have long enjoyed the option of choosing sites that don’t necessarily require a novel use of space. As our city grows bigger, I look forward to seeing more of these unique parcels make the most of increasingly scarce space.

    The idea that density will begin to limit options, and eventually lead to an increasingly unique use of space seems lost on a lot of folks who comment here. It seems obvious that a rapidly growing (former) cow-town, filled with an oversupply of infill opportunities, is poised for a boom of drab, identical development. Even so, I think it’s worth remembering that for each new development (as boxy and uninteresting as it might be) helps set the stage for other more architecturally notable projects in the future. For now, we should be grateful that our city’s low hanging fruit is being swallowed up by any development at all – because that will ultimately help move us toward an environment that promotes the kind of optimal land use we most appreciate.

  3. Joey August 29, 2017 at 10:08 am

    Agreed! I started following your site when I was still living at home in southern Colorado. I obsessively followed the restoration of Union Station and the neighborhood’s development even as I moved to D.C. Now I’m in Santa fe and I still check this site for some of the best photos and articles about Denver’s development and change!

  4. Mark W. August 29, 2017 at 11:32 am

    I can’t say that I am too fond of this project. According to the rendering, the historic ghost sign on the Sugar Building Annex will be obscured. That old sign adds a lot of character to the block. Couldn’t this new development have been designed shorter to save the sign?

    • JB August 30, 2017 at 8:26 am

      The ghost sign will most certainly be preserved, and in fact will be celebrated on the interior of the building. The brick walls of the historic building will be exposed on the interior, and left exactly as time has left them. In addition, the porch on the fourth floor was specifically created to frame the ghost sign so that a portion of it is still visible to the pedestrian on Wazee St.

      • Mark W. August 30, 2017 at 9:13 pm

        Thanks JB for letting me know about the ghost sign.

    • Jake August 30, 2017 at 2:52 pm

      I work for the GC building this project (Jordy Construction) –
      The cost per square foot for this construction is already astronomical (shoring of adjacent historic buildings, foundation requirements, extremely tight site with no laydown area, utility relocation & relocation of grease trap for restaurants in the Sugar building, etc.). Making the building shorter would make the project economically infeasible.

  5. Keith August 30, 2017 at 8:05 am

    Thanks for the bonus pictures! I Can’t wait for the Coloradan to rise. The primarily black with while highlights will play well against the primarily white with black highlights of the Platform, and the black of the Hotel Born.

  6. Jordan August 30, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    I think they missed a great opportunity to call this project the “Sugar Packet”. SugarSquare just doesn’t have a ring to it!

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