Take a look at the highly vicious slot home.
It is perhaps what sets Denver apart in terms of architectural style. Longtime Denver real estate agent Jill Schafer said that newcomers she shows around town tell her, “We never see anything like this.”
Schafer, chairman of the Denver Metro Association of Realtors’ Market Trends Committee and agent for Kentwood Cherry Creek, laughs at the idea that the Denver style could be defined by such structures that the city council made after multiplying northwest Denver earlier this year has forbidden. Even so, she said, “I don’t know of many places that have slot homes.”
Brooklyn has its brown stones. Chicago left its Frank Lloyd Wright legacy. Instead of something special, you can see what is typical of the Denver style. For example, the efficient, no-nonsense Denver Square is known as Foursquare in other cities.
Denver also has its share of mid-century Victorians and modern people. Often every chosen shape is expressed in a material:
“The town’s tradition is masonry,” said Dick Farley, architect and city planner. “If you look at older parts of town you can see how much masonry there is.”
Farley points to the 1880s, 1890s, and 1900s as the decades that define the city’s style traditions. Denver was founded after the discovery of gold in the Rocky Mountains in 1858. The early boomtown architecture included tents, pine huts, and log cabins. A fire in 1863 that destroyed much of the city center resulted in ordinances banning combustible building materials.
Stone also became popular and, like brick, can subtly draw the viewer into the glow of Denver’s sunshine.
“Materials that cast shadows, have some texture, make sense here,” Farley said.
Renowned Denver architect Temple Buell showed that shade, texture, and brick don’t have to be subtle. His designs include the Mullen Building on the campus of St. Joseph Hospital in Uptown. Buell made the brick ripple like water, contrasting red and light brown colors for the 1930s Art Deco gem that once housed nursing students.
Mary Voelz Chandler, who wrote about art and architecture for Rocky Mountain News, affectionately said Buell had gone “brick crazy.”
“Some of its buildings are breathtaking,” Chandler added in an interview.
In her Guide to Denver Architecture, published by the Denver Architectural Foundation, Chandler included greetings for other influential Denver architects, including Joseph and Louise Marlow, Victor Hornbein, and William Muchow. She also said the city owes a great debt to City Beautiful Champion Robert Speer, who was mayor of Denver from 1904 to 1912. But in Chandler’s opinion, just because Denver had star architects and visionaries doesn’t mean it has its own style.
“Denver style? There is no such thing as people may try to find, ”she wrote in her travel guide. “Still, there are remarkable things about this city.”
In the second edition of her 2013 guide, Chandler expressed concern that the remarkable would not be preserved or drowned out by “a suburban aesthetic, a boring, cheap way of doing business that spawned projects that are neither urban, nor urban. “
How has Chandler been feeling since 2013?
Look no further than the title of a blog she started a few months ago: Denver, what the hell happened to you?
In conversation it is ambiguous. She said that if she were to write a third edition of her architecture guide the tone would be “either very hopeful for the future or a little disturbed. Maybe both. “
She has seen many people in Denver, from city council members to commentators on the Denver FUGLY Facebook group, care about the built environment, which “has a huge impact on how we feel, how we act and how we act we live life. “
This influence was recorded by Ken Schroeppel, planning professor at CU Denver, in collaboration with photographer and architecture enthusiast Mark Zakrzewski.
For example, they describe the 1990s in Schröppel’s blog DenverUrbanism. At this point, as Schroeppel writes, Denver was “coming back from the troubles of the 1970s and 1980s.” It was the era of pop-top. Homeowners who wanted more space added stucco on the frame to their brick or stone houses on the second floor.
Mixing materials seems to have become a style. Check out what’s going on in developments like Boulevard One in Lowry. Realtor Schafer said designers may not be consciously mimicking the pop top. Instead, she said, they use just enough expensive stone or brick siding to add a sense of solidity to a house and then mix in cheaper materials to save money.
Style affects the end result.
For a report earlier this year, researchers Jennifer Newcomer and Phyllis Resnick interviewed people who work in the housing industry, including developers, and found that expensive tastes hurt affordability.
“The preferences for larger houses and premium surfaces, or possibly the perception of such on the part of developers, contributed more to construction costs than general inflation in basic building materials,” wrote Newcomer and Resnick in “Exploring Colorado’s Affordability of Housing” Challenges in all their complexity . “
Researchers took stock of the basic suite of finishes – countertops, floors, appliances – that was being offered by builders across Colorado. They found that granite countertops, extensive wood and tile floors, stainless steel appliances, and designer touches that were viewed as upgrades before the Great Recession are now considered the new standard. In short, the bar has been raised on the goal and it seems there is no going back. “
Recession and recovery. Bust and boom. According to Schroeppels and Zakrzewski, the cycle has resulted in developers building as much as they can as quickly as possible when the economy is strong enough to generate demand.
What Denver has is an architectural stance. Despite Park Hill’s more imaginative confectionery from the past and current penchant for granite countertops, it’s not fussy. While giving a cold shoulder to passers-by, these slot houses were no nonsense and efficiently maximized expensive land and rose quickly in a city desperate for housing.
“We were a late blooming city, so our architectural vernacular is largely borrowed,” Schroeppel said in an interview, adding that he saw influences from the Midwest, the Northwest, Southern California and Texas.
“You could say that the Denver style is the eclectic collection of many styles.”