el dorado designs city block in Denver

Posted on January 20th, 2016 at 10:16 am by


In the summer of 2015, Continuum Partners contacted el dorado with a unique urban design challenge in the Lower Downtown District of Denver: to design an entire city block from the ground up. Continuum had recently completed an innovative adaptive re-use renovation of nearby Union Station as a major downtown mixed-use multi-modal transportation hub, leaving our site, the former downtown bus terminal at 16th and Market, open for new development. Working in conjunction with a comprehensive Urban Design Analysis by Gehl Studio, el dorado is operating as design architect for the site, with Dallas-based BOKA Powell acting as Architect of Record.

01_1527-15-1222 Aerial

02_Denver Context Diagram

03_1527-16-0118 Exterior View

Perspective from 16th and Blake

04_1527-15-1222 16th & Blake Exterior

Perspective from 16th and Blake

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Perspective from 17th and Blake

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Perspective from 17th and Market

Through a rigorous massing and architectural design review process administered by the City of Denver and the Lower Downtown Design Review Board, el dorado has worked closely with Continuum’s development models to generate multiple site design iterations, ultimately landing on site strategies that deploy a high concentration of mixed-use urban density fronting Denver’s iconic 16th Street Mall. Through careful attention to adjacent urban fabric of secondary arteries, lower density retail and residential has been introduced along Blake Street, Market Street and 17th Street. el dorado’s architectural strategies represent thoughtful responses to historically sensitive guidelines, freshly re-engaging masonry as an artisan craft through careful attention to fenestration and details. The result is a city block that is highly responsive to its urban context through subtle, and sometimes bold, shifts in massing, fenestration and material texture.

05_The Board - B&W

Lower Downtown Design Review Board: Urban Massing presentation

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Urban Design Analysis: Blake Street Elevation

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Urban Design Analysis: Market Street Elevation

Consistent with Gehl Studio’s insightful Urban Design Analysis, el dorado has created a ground plan that promotes a network of vibrant pedestrian thoroughfares, activating the site’s interior with unexpected opportunities for local boutique retail environments. The center of the site serves as a dynamic counterpoint to the stoic, historically sensitive street facades— a friendly wolf in sheep’s clothing. The architecture supports Gehl Studio’s vision for a balanced retail ecology, allowing small, local retailers to co-exist with large, national retailers within a single development.

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Retail Ecology and Site Interior

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Ground Floor Plan

Much of the project’s innovation occurs below grade. Working with BOKA Powell and Continuum, we have collaboratively developed parking strategies that anticipate a Downtown Denver that depends less and less on the automobile. Through stacked parking systems, parking needs are met on a single level, further emphasizing the importance of mass transit and pedestrian traffic to the site’s arrival sequence. Leveraging an active street culture and dynamic site interior, the project offers multiple points of public entry through alley ways, pedestrian paseos and boutique mixed-use “arcades.”

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Site Section

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Downtown Denver: Transportation Analysis

Recently coined as “Market Station,” the project will serve as a major new mixed-use downtown development for one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Market Station will offer Denver’s urban community 200 new residential units, 100,000 SF of new Class A office space, and 90,000 SF of new retail space. Equally important, the project will provide a dynamic network of intimate outdoors spaces, supporting an already thriving street and alley culture in downtown Denver.

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Level 5 Plan

W:JOBS 20151527-BOKA Powell 16th and Market  (arch-design)152

16th Street Elevation

W:JOBS 20151527-BOKA Powell 16th and Market  (arch-design)152

Market Street Elevation

W:JOBS 20151527-BOKA Powell 16th and Market  (arch-design)152

Blake Street Elevation

W:JOBS 20151527-BOKA Powell 16th and Market  (arch-design)152

17th Street Elevation