30th and Glenarm Condos, Northeast Denver Housing Center, Denver, Colorado
I recently passed by a project that was completed a number of years ago that was designed by myself, with Arcadea as the architect-of-record.
This project started as a national AIA Young Architects competition in conjunction with Northeast Denver Housing Center and the convening of the AIA convention in Denver. My wife, Kate Iverson, and myself conceived of the winning submission of a series of small, market-rate condos and some ancillary retail space for this site in Five Points, in Denver.
The character of the neighborhood has changed rather dramatically from the time of the initial competition to the final execution of the building five years later, to the current situation. Once a challenged, under-served neighborhood with the parallel problems of unemployment and crime, the place has now been significantly upgraded by the local light-rail service and some questionable gentrification. Some of the newer projects, like this one, were carried out by local non-profits on empty lots and greatly improved the neighborhood. Many simply displaced existing residents.
Our solution to the problem of the site was to try to tie together the disparate scales of buildings on the adjacent streets and make a tough, but street-friendly building. I think it has been successful on the architectural level, but on the socio-economic one, I am not the one to judge or maybe even comment. So many things are beyond the reach of the architecture to positively effect. We should at least stick to the “first do no harm” motto.