Denver will be ugly in 10 years.

I love the Denver Infill blog because it keeps me in the know on what’s going on in Denver better than anything else, at least as far as construction. I also HATE it.

I hate it because it celebrates one thing (reducing the number of ugly parking lots, which is good) without ever bothering to turn a critical eye to what’s replacing them, which is bad. I made the mistake of reading the article linked above, and then reading the comments. Actually the article is fine, it’s the standard, “yay one less parking lot” celebration. The comments make me sad for the future of Denver as a cool place to live.

Jack says, “If you all think this is ugly, then you obviously have not traveled much.” Interesting as  I’ve traveled a fair bit, domestically and internationally. So many cities have amazing architecture everywhere. Apartments are lovely to look at, sky scrapers are a wonder. Old buildings are celebrated and incorporated into design. Then i come home to Denver and throw up a little in my mouth.

The building that will replace a parking lot in Arapahoe Square is ugly, it’s not nice to look at, unless you’re comparing it to an empty parking lot.

If you’re familiar with Denver’s current building boom, you can guess what it looks like. Take a guess.

Did you say, lots of right angles, lots of brown and earth tones? maybe some glass mixed in? You’re right. It looks like every other 5 story bloc that’s being built or has recently been built in Denver. Every building built in Denver, especially our apartment blocs have been the same. I kid you not, look at the Douglas, Modera RiNo, Denargo Market, Broadstone RiNo, the one linked above, etc. Sure one might toss some brick in. Maybe one has black iron railings and the other silver, but they’re giant squares of boring color, every one of them.

I’m as excited as the Infill bloggers about reducing our surface parking lots (Though the city is being short sighting not building a public parking garage) but I really wish there was a little more thought put towards design, so that Denver doesn’t end up one big brown square.

Ten years from now, when there’s no parking for downtown events, and the “skyline” is five story brown squares, we’re all going to wonder what went wrong. At least we’ll have the Denver Infill blog as a record.

2 thoughts on “Denver will be ugly in 10 years.

  1. Jason Hendrits

    I disagree. Denver has so many vacant lots in and around the city core that almost every building will positively add to the urban fabric and improves the city at a fundamental level. These buildings are built for economic viability. Even with all the parking lots under development, there is hardly a scarcity of land available for the gleaming edifices you seek. If the market sustains a fancier building, that building will be built — and no, we aren’t running out of space.

  2. John Wilker Post author

    To each their own for sure. I think block after block of brown apartments adds nothing but temporary residents with nothing invested in the city. Sure they add rents, they add census counts, few will give a damn about the city, fewer will stay in it as they have kids, want to own vs. rent (a whole other issue in downtown).

    So the market of rampant development doesn’t sustain nicer buildings? hmm. Not sure what that says about Denver.

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