Thursday, July 23, 2015

Going West: Part IV: Denver

Far from being the geographic or geodesic center of the US which is located some two-hundred miles to the east in Kansas, Denver has taken the mantle of central hub. Frederico Pena, once a mayor here envisioned a gigantic airport that would replace the central airfields of Stapleton. Denver International is one of the world's largest airports (in land area) and is owned in full by the city of Denver and Stapleton has since become a new town, a welcome space for a rapidly growing city that is now bigger than Baltimore.
New towers and still open parking lots

But of course, this was a road trip and so I for once did not come in at DIA but had to make my way up I-25 because I had deserted I-70 in favor of a scenic route along Colorada 86, a for the most part really pretty and convenient ride.
always party time at Larimer Square, a historic area

Having come for work there wasn't much exploring of the city this time, but have been here many times before and will cheat a bit and mention previous experiences.

Denver has this cool factor that attracts young people in droves, a fact that leaves an East coaster a bit for loss of an explanation since Denver is afflicted by many of the urban ills that plague especially newer towns and cities, namely too many freeways (the hub idea again!) and too many demolitions and surface parking lots. But every time there are new towers rising, office, residential and mixed use. The city has good luck with strong Mayors, Hickenlooper, now governor of Colorado being one of them.  He famously opened a brewpub in the back then seedy Union Station area, later as Mayor built a ballpark there and then initiated one of the largest downtown re-calibration schemes in America, the Union Station TOD opening up whole new districts of housing, offices and retail, shifting downtown in essence through a memorable transportation hub. Denver set the standard for new transportation infrastructure, not only with its airport but with five new rail lines all in one package (FasTrack).
Denver also set a gold standard for the redevelopment of failed malls into attractive new urban areas. (Cherry Creek).
The baine of parking: Note that almost anything on this picture
is devoted to car parking incl the structure on the left
Denver Union Station area transit hub

Denver completed a comprehensive  re-write of its zoning code, a feat that many other cities like Baltimore, Indianapolis or LA are still struggling with.
Denver Libeskind Art Museum

Of course, Denver attracts active lifestyle folks and the proximity of the Rockies is a big draw in a place where it is a pretty long way to anywhere else (not counting Denver's satellites such as Boulder, Golden and other small towns in its orbit).

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

Related articles I wrote about Denver:

Four Things to Learn from Denver
Denver Thriving
Calatrava's DIA train station concept. He
resigned from the project in September 2011. A similar design is now completed by the partner firm in the project, Gensler

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