Midcentury modern architecture flourished from 1945 to 1975—but Denver was ahead of the trend. The Mile High City got its first mid-mod home in 1935, when Casper Hegner, fresh from studying in Europe, built his International House in Wash Park. This month, New Century Modern and Studio Gunn Architecture will bring the style back to Denver when they unveil the first newly built midcentury modern development in Denver since the 1950s. Dubbed Wilder Lane, the Columbine Valley (near Littleton) project will have 24 residences of around 3,500 square feet, starting in the $900,000s. Each house will be unique, but they all share DNA with houses from Denver’s storied architectural history. Here’s how.
No blurred lines here
Where Victorians are fancy, mid-mods’ most common trait is simplicity. That’s why nearly every house—from iconic Twin Palms in Palm Springs, California, where Sinatra kept a pad, to Krisana Park in southeast Denver—has long and clean horizontal lines.
Floating an idea
Esteemed Californian home designer Cliff May worked with builders in other states to license his designs for modular houses, 170 of which ended up in Harvey Park in the mid-1950s. (The houses could be erected in 24 hours.) Clerestory windows make the roofs appear as if they’re floating and functionally reduce the need for artificial light.
Out in the open
New building materials in the early 20th century allowed architects to go abstract. No one took that further than Denver’s Charles Deaton. The best example of his imaginative design is the Sculptured House in Genesee. While the outside might not match Wilder Lane’s aesthetic—it resembles a space taco, right?— the Sculptured House’s open floor plan promotes family hangouts.
Let there be Wright
Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian homes, Edward Hawkins built Arapahoe Acres in Englewood in the 1950s as distinctly Coloradan housing. That means, in part, large windows connecting the interior with our purple mountain majesties. No wonder Arapahoe Acres was the first mid-mod neighborhood included on the National Register of Historic Places.