Dixie Darr

Feats of Architecture

In creativity, Denver on May 1, 2017 at 12:26 pm

This past weekend was Doors Open Denver, an annual two-day event sponsored by the Denver Architectural Foundation when the public gets to tour some of the city’s unique spaces, including high-profile, historic, and/or “artistic feats of architecture and design.” I couldn’t make up that last phrase if my life depended on it. Still, each year I look forward to choosing which of the 60 or so featured buildings I want to visit.

Usually, it’s a residence. Two years in a row, I went to Dana Crawford’s sprawling home in the Flour Mill Lofts, a project she developed in a former (you guessed it) flour mill that had stood broken and abandoned by the Platte River for as long as I can remember. She had the biggest bathtub I’ve ever seen and a huge wall of books across from a wall of windows facing both the city and the mountains. I suffered a severe case of loft envy.

Last year, I checked out the Turntable Studios, a former high rise Holiday Inn next to Mile High Stadium converted to micro apartments. In Denver’s obscene real estate market, $1200 a month will get you a pie-shaped wedge of about 310 square feet.

In some ways those choices represent the sublime and the ridiculous of Denver’s housing market. What they have in common is that both are located in buildings originally designed and constructed for other purposes. And that’s why I liked them.

This year, I toured The Temple, a former Jewish Temple built in 1882 in the inner city Curtis Park neighborhood. Reconfigured into a “contemporary artist haven” that provides affordable studio space to 23 artists while preserving an historic structure that had fallen into disrepair.

This is the kind of creative reuse of space that sparks my interest and what all my choices for this event have in common. What will I discover on next year’s list?

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