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Architectural renderings of Populus show off its distinctive look, which is inspired by aspen trees. Photo courtesy of Studio Gang

What You Need To Know About Populus, an Eye-Catching Hotel Coming to Civic Center Park

The new development is unlike any other hospitality complex in Denver.

1. Its architect is a big deal. Because this 13-story building will occupy such a prominent place in town—at the intersection of Colfax Avenue and 14th Street, not far from the state Capitol—Denver-based developer Urban Villages considered the world’s top architecture firms before settling on Chicago-born Studio Gang. Its principal, Jeanne Gang, who made Time magazine’s 2019 list of the most influential people in the world, has created mind-bending, neighborhood-altering designs around the globe, and her addition to Denver’s skyline is a signal that the Mile High City has arrived.

2. You don’t have to live there to play there. The building will include 40 micro-apartments and a 250-key hotel, with residents and guests sharing amenities including a rooftop bar and view deck, and a light-filled lobby with multiple places to dine and drink.

Photo courtesy of Studio Gang

3. The design (and name) was inspired by aspen trees. “We saw a parallel between the way aspens (Populus tremuloides) work together as organisms, growing in colonies that can last generations, and how we thought the building could support a strong community as Denver grows,” Gang explains. “The window sizes respond to the interior spaces and uses—[in some rooms, window sills form built-in seating or desks]— but their geometry is informed by the eye-shaped patterns we see on aspen trees’ trunks.”

4. Its form has a function. Populus’ fenestration doesn’t just look cool; “it also supports the project’s ambitious environmental goals,” Gang says. The “lid” of each window stretches outward to provide shade, which could improve the building’s energy performance. Low-e glass, a heat-recovery system, a green roof terrace, and the structure’s thermal mass and light-reflecting color may help too—so much so that the project will seek LEED Gold certification.

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