Denver is one of the fastest-growing cities in the US, with an architectural scene that boasts classic highrises of brick and steel alongside newer structures with more futuristic energy. Set against the magnificent Rocky Mountains, Denver’s major commercial architects have been tasked with maintaining a skyline that works well with the city’s dramatic, and often snow-capped, mountainous backdrop.
While fusing the aesthetic of Denver’s historic past with its blossoming contemporary vibe, the architects on the list used the inspiration derived from the unique terrain to create buildings that combine the best of what man-made structures and natural landscapes can offer. Denver’s commercial architecture scene is populated by a number of multidisciplinary firms that cater to a diverse list of markets in the region. These firms also highlight successful professionals and principal architects that have established their own national and global presence.
Downtown Denver Partnership Award
2490 Welton Street, Denver, CO 80205
About Craine Architecture
Principal architect and founder Dan Craine is an established designer and architect who has collaborated and worked with some of the leading figures in the industry, including David Tryba of Tryba Architects. Craine made his way to Denver from New York. He completed his Master’s in Architecture at the University of Colorado. He is a member of the Congress of New Urbanism, the Arapahoe Square Design Advisory Board, and AIA Denver’s Urban Design Committee. Craine’s team approach is attractive to clients who value their own participation in visioning and feedback. Craine has done consistent, high-quality work on commercial, multi-family community structures, and single-family residential properties. Additionally, the firm has a highly-commended portfolio for the hospitality and resort sectors. In 2016, for instance, it received the Downtown Denver Partnership Award for the Wheatley, which celebrated the structure’s transformational impact on the vitality of Denver.
Fairmont Breckenridge Resort Residences was a noble nod to the luxurious grace of Colorado’s winter wilderness. The site hosts a lush lodge and spa that sits on a secluded ridgeline above 188 acres of nature preserve. You can expect gondola access from your doorstep for easeful travel time between your lodging and the slick slopes.
Located in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood, the Lydian, which was named after a jazz scale, pays homage to the jazz heritage of Five Points. This interesting choice of design gives the area a nostalgic, classic feel. Featuring 129 apartments, 15,000 square feet of office space, and almost 10,000 square feet of retail, the Lydian is one of Denver’s classiest integrative spaces.
Davis Partnership Architects
2901 Blake Street, Suite 100, Denver, CO 80205
About Davis Partnership Architects
Davis Partnership Architects has been bringing its special touch to Denver landmarks since 1967, although different formations of the firm first existed as far back as 1892. The company’s mission is to elevate the joy and dignity of the human experience through their functional and artistic conceptualization of both urban and rural spaces. From the futuristic elements of the Hamilton Building at the Denver Art Museum to the understated beauty of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Davis Partnership Architects executes a consistently diverse aesthetic. Though the firm has a wide focus, they put special attention towards facilities for education, healthcare, research, and commerce. Among the firm’s principals are Ann Adams, a certified member of the American College of Healthcare Architects, Gary Adams, an AIA committee member on Architecture for Health, and LEED-accredited professional Brian Erickson.
The 112,000-square-foot mixed-use space known as Civica Cherry Creek was completed in 2018. Cherry Creek’s rooftop terrace offers views of Denver’s downtown and the iconic Rocky Mountains. The firm used electrochromic glass to tint the building’s windows for privacy. The structure’s four-level, 73,650-square-foot parking garage provides easy access to 214 parking spaces. Another example of the firm’s project is the New Headquarters for the Colorado Health Foundation. The work required comprehensive design services from Davis Partnership Architects. This 34,000-square-foot project, completed in late 2016, was a true integration of architectural versatility and attention to the landscape. Additionally, extra attention was paid to interior layouts designed to enhance collaboration and communication. The firm also worked on the Museum of Contemporary Art’s new addition in downtown Denver. It was a collaboration with London-based architect David Adjaye and features a three-story atrium, five galleries, and a rooftop area.
1899 Wynkoop Street, Suite 300, Denver, CO 80202
In 2017 when Burkettdesign joined forces with Eppstein Uhen Architects, a well-respected 110-year-old design firm, it was a merger of like-minded business models that established its presence in Colorado. Burkettdesign was founded in 1990 and was known for its high quality and personalized design services. Their integration with EUA created an expanded reach within the midwest region. Rick Burkett serves as the principal of the Denver Studio. Burkett is an AIA member and LEED-certified professional. He focuses on strategic planning and conceptual design. When it comes to the firm’s notable works, EUA has a diverse aesthetic capacity, showing examples of their clean, dignified style with the Colorado Academy of Music and their out-of-the-box innovation with the Denver Botanical Gardens.
The firm’s portfolio in commercial and academic sectors feature some of its most unforgettable works. For instance, its work for the Colorado Academy School of Music is one of its most notable ones. The school serves approximately 945 students in Lakewood, Colorado. The building combines a classic appeal with a modern twist and is an elegant emblem for learning on the 94-acre campus. Another project, the 1000 Speer Buildings, offers high-rise vantage points on Denver’s low-rise city. These luxury apartments provide 83 units, mountain views, and a swimming pool. These works showcase EUA’s ability to create a modern look that doesn’t clash with Denver’s historic elements.
AIA Thomas Jefferson Award
421 Broadway, Denver, CO 80203
About Fentress Architects
Fentress Architects is an international design firm founded by Curtis Fentress in 1980. The firm is considered one of the top green design firms in the United States. Its commitment to sustainable design has been a cornerstone of its approach since the early ‘90s and has influenced the creation of the world’s largest daylit structure and the world’s largest LEED building. Through the years, the firm has produced award-winning, cutting-edge design of convention centers, museums, government buildings, and airports. Its portfolio also showcases its highly regarded work for the Denver International Airport. The company has also extended its reach to international markets and is responsible for designing one of the world’s tallest buildings in Kuwait, a 60-story, Class-A office tower. It also worked on the more than 700-foot tall structure known as The Dancing Sisters in Dubai. Curtis Fentress, who leads as the principal-in-charge-of-design at the firm, graduated with honors from North Carolina State University College of Design and is an AIA Fellow, the organization’s highest membership honor.
Fentress Architects and Boston-based firm Machado Silvetti worked on a partnership to complete the renovation work on the Denver Art Museum’s historic North Building, a $150 million project that includes a $25-million pledge from the museum’s board chairman, J. Landis Martin. Both firms worked closely with the Denver Art Museum to ensure that their plan would allow them to sensitively restore the historic building and simultaneously create access to the seventh floor, where mountain and city views await. The design also included the expansion of the structure for additional exhibition space, as well as unveil a new welcome center. A poll by the American Institute of Architects showed that the Denver International Airport was ranked as the 4th “Favorite American Architecture” landmark built in the last 15 years. The project was behind schedule and over budget when it was initially handed to the firm, and in three weeks Curtis Fentress conceptualized a plan that was faster to construct, more affordable, and would ultimately become iconic. In 2010, he was honored with the Thomas Jefferson Award, a recognition that is considered the highest award for public architecture by the AIA.
GMH By Design
600 17th Street, #2800, Denver, CO 80202
About GMH By Design
GMH By Design is a full-service architectural firm with specializations in commercial, civic, and church architecture, as well as custom homes and corporate office design. Colorado native and Principal Architect Greg Houston brings his longtime knowledge of his hometown into his unique awareness of Denver’s evolving character. The company prides itself on client collaboration and a willingness to work on projects of varied sizes. The firm’s versatility shows in the professional, clean aesthetics that they’ve crafted for apartments in the center of downtown Denver and in the contemporary elegance they’ve cultivated in revitalized church spaces. As they steadily grow their portfolio, GMH By Design is sure to climb the ranks of coveted architecture firms in the Denver area.
The 1755 Blake Street Building makes a refined, functional statement in a five-story office building that incorporates retail spaces at the street level. It maximizes the building area while staying away from the corner, as to not create visual competition with other structures. This unique attention to the detail of surrounding construction allows GMH’s work to integrate seamlessly into the environment around them. The work also worked on one of the tallest buildings in Denver, known as The Spire. The project is a LEED-certified condominium that houses 496 units. This high rise residential is attired in glass and steel and complements the aesthetic of the Colorado Convention Center, which sits across the street. Along with 41 stories of residential living, are street-level retail spaces, social clubs, a fitness center, and swimming pools.
Humphries Poli Architects
Dennis Humphries and Joseph Poli
AIA Colorado Merit Award,
AIA Architect’s Choice Award,
Colorado Construction Gold Hard Hat Award
1655 Grant Street, Denver, CO 80203
About Humphries Poli Architects
In the early 1970s, Dennis Humphries and Joseph Poli cemented a friendship at the University of Illinois that evolved into the successful Humphries Poli Architects, a Denver design firm that believes that at the heart of every great business, are friendship and community. Humphries Poli Architects currently lists almost 100 awards for design. These include the AIA Colorado Merit Award and the AIA Architect’s Choice Award. Dennis Humphries and Joseph Poli both hold a Master in Architecture. The two principals aim to promote a vibrant energy in their workplace and, most importantly, deliver innovation in their diverse, national work.
The Skyline Park Pavilion won the Colorado Construction Gold Hard Hat Award for Architectural Design. Its palette and other design elements integrate durability and permanence while maintaining a connection to the park’s materials. The Pavilion opens to the adjacent outdoor plaza and provides subtle nighttime lighting from the ground plane. After a nationally covered incident in 2004, when the former Granby Public Library was destroyed by an angry citizen with a bulldozer, Humphries Poli Architects stepped in to redesign the new 10,800-square-foot structure. Fusing sustainability with a contemporary feel, this new edifice includes a children’s room, a teen zone, an adult collection, a quiet reading area, study rooms, and a meeting venue.
William D. Chilton
Anthony J. Markese
IDP Outstanding Firm Award,
IDP Emerging Architects Award
980 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06510
About Pickard Chilton
Pickard Chilton may be based in New Haven, Connecticut, but it has made quite the visual impact on Denver’s skyline. The firm’s reach is international, their personal touch intimate. Additionally, its blend of pragmatism and creativity reflects an appreciation for research-driven design, and the firm’s quality work has not gone unappreciated. In the past, Pickard Chilton received the IDP Outstanding Firm Award and the Emerging Architects Award and was nominated Innovator of the Year in Business New Haven Magazine. Jon Pickard, William D. Chilton, and Anthony J. Markese make up the firm’s high-caliber trio of principals. All hold the distinguished honor of being AIA Fellows and remain deeply involved with every project, which ranges from high profile international work to corporate buildings and campuses. Pickard and Chilton both received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Iowa State University.
1144 15th is Denver’s 40-story, high-performance, LEED Gold-certified office tower. The building also features an 880-space parking garage. This sleek emblem of the city’s burgeoning metropolis showcases a natural stone, daylit lobby with wood and stainless steel accents. Floor-to-ceiling glass in the tower’s office floors exposes a sweeping view of the Rockies—a priceless backdrop for its resident’s daily routine. Another project, the 4600 South Syracuse, was the first of a two-building complex within the Denver Technology Center. It was designed to be the corporate headquarters for a leading software developer. Also privy to well-designed gazing stations on the Rocky Mountains, this building includes floor-to-ceiling clear glass windows, natural sun protection created by deep horizontal mullions, and premium office and conference spaces.
1830 Blake Street, Denver, CO 80202
Rowland+Broughton is notable for the collaborative process that allows it to challenge conventional thinking and ultimately produce designs that inspire, transform, and enhance how people interact with spaces. The company has two studios in Colorado, one in Aspen, and yet another in Denver. These two locations allow the firm to reach a wider scope of clientele that come from a diverse range of markets such as residential, commercial, corporate, retail, mixed-use, hospitality, and cultural. Established almost two decades ago by Principals Sarah Broughton, AIA, NCIDQ, and John Rowland, AIA, the firm has delivered custom projects defined for their thoughtful designs and their sustainability. A majority of the firm’s business is from repeat clients who have come to trust the firm’s spectrum of design solutions. Aside from its impressive testimonials, industry organizations and publications such as AIA, IIDA, Interior Design Magazine, and Luxe Magazine, attest to the firm’s excellence in producing modern, technology-based, and client-focused designs, especially for the commercial and residential sectors.
Over the years, the company has completed multi-awarded designs for the commercial industry in Denver and nearby cities. Its work as an architect and interior designer for this market has been recognized by a variety of awards and press features. The Victorian Square Building project, for instance, was a 12,275-square-foot commercial, mixed-use work in Aspen. The firm worked as a master planner and lead architect for the project that later on won the 2018 AIA Colorado – Best Commercial Building award. The project’s design, dominated by a collage of handmade bricks and African mahogany, was inspired by a nearby skiing landmark known as the “Pillow Factory.” This contemporary structure was featured in Modern Denver, Petersen Magazine, and Building Dialogue. Another notable work, this time in Denver, is the Matsuhisa project. Its genuine design that represents the client’s brand helped it win the 2018 ASID Crystal Awards, for two categories: Judges Merit Award for Commercial and the Best Hospitality Project Under 10,000 square feet. The project was featured in Interiors Colorado magazine, Building Dialogue, and ENR. More recently, another commercial work, the Mesa Building remodel, earned the 2019 Colorado CARE Awards.
Semple Brown Design Firm
Sarah Semple Brown
AIA Denver Firm of the Year,
AIA Design Awards,
AIA Merit Awards,
Historic Denver Award of Honor
1160 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, CO 80204
About Semple Brown Design Firm
Semple Brown Architectural Firm has been delivering designs that represent the balance between form and function since 1982. Co-founded by Sarah Semple Brown, whose style is known to fuse depth, warmth, and quality, her staff includes multiple LEED-accredited professionals. Brown works together with President Rusty Brown, AIA, NCARB, to lead the company’s every operation. The Browns’ collaborations have produced a diverse portfolio, with works highlighted in over 30 publications. Sarah Brown earned her FAIA title in 2013, and the firm previously received Firm of the Year for AIA Denver and AIA Colorado. Semple Brown prides itself on its team-based approach and on its ability to cultivate community through a strong sense of place. From demure cultural icons, such as the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, to the modern, multi-venue lobby at Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Semple Brown’s versatility and attention to detail make it an outstanding player in the region’s architectural scene.
The Ellie Caulkins Opera House was one of the most fulfilling projects that the firm has worked on. The challenge, which the firm successfully delivered, was to construct a completely new facility within the shell of a century-old historic structure. Semple Brown completed the project, valued at $92 million, in five years. Today, the Ellie Caulkins Opera House is a gorgeous modern throwback to the dapper days of old. Seating 2,268 patrons for a range of productions, including critically acclaimed dance, opera, and music, the opera house is a cultural pivot point in Denver’s growing arts scene. Semple Brown was also commissioned for another important entertainment hot spot, the Colorado Ballet’s new building at 1075 Santa Fe Drive. Semple Brown values its ability to support the nonprofits they work with by trying their best to stretch donor dollars. Due to the firm’s ingenuity, Colorado Ballet was able to raise the money needed for both the purchase and renovation costs of their new building.
Shears Adkins Rockmore Architects
1550 Wynkoop Street, Suite 100, Denver, CO 80202
About Shears Adkins Rockmore Architects
Shears Adkins Rockmore Architects stands out for its comprehensive approach to design. The firm specializes in completing urban projects that continue to reshape Denver’s architectural landscape, especially for the commercial market. Headquartered at the heart of the city, the company takes on academic, hospitality, residential, civic, cultural, and corporate office projects through its expertise in architectural, interior design, and planning. Chris Shears, Jesse Adkins, and Andy Rockmore have led the firm from success to triumph since its founding in 2002. The three are lifelong members of the AIA and Shears is an AIA Fellow. Shears, before establishing the firm, was already a leading figure in the region’s urban design scene. One of his major contributions to the city was a LoDo residential project, the Palace Lofts, one of the pioneering structures that introduced more opportunities to live and work in the historic district. Today, many of the firm’s projects have earned multiple recognitions, including AIA awards and Mayor’s Design Award.
One of the firm’s most notable projects in the commercial sector is the River Mile project, located in Denver. The architectural design recently earned the prestigious Regional Design and Planning award from AIA Colorado in 2019. As one of the largest developments in the region’s history, this monumental project was conceptualized to provide a transit-oriented and modern mixed-use facility to the city. The firm currently leads its master planning efforts. The firm also worked as the head interior architect for another community landmark, the Broadway Market. The firm designed its interior to attract the city’s growing food and beverage enthusiasts. The building features the minimalist elements of modern architecture and the charming craftsmanship of industrial design. The choice of a neutral palette allows individual food establishments to stand out visually and highlight their brand’s signature style. As an architect for commercial hospitality building design, the company has completed multiple projects in and outside the city, including the Blake Street Hotel and the 1480 Wewatta Aparthotel, among others.
ULI Global Award for Excellence
1620 Logan Street, Denver, CO 80203
About Tryba Architects
In the last 29 years, Tryba Architects has defined itself as civic architects with a passion for sustainable urbanism. The firm has evolved from its origins in restoration to a diverse niche focused on developing and creating innovative urban spaces in the city and beyond. It received the ULI Global Award for Excellence for its project for the city’s Union Station. The company also won the Firm of the Year from AIA Western Mountain. AIA Fellow David Tryba has spearheaded projects across North America and Mexico. Since he returned to his home state in 1988 after working briefly for Beyer Blinder Belle in New York City, he has put his mark on many standout structures within the urban profile of Denver, including the elegant yet contemporary History Colorado Center and the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Building complex.
At the intersection of five unique Denver districts is Tryba’s proposed Rocky Mountain Public Media headquarters. This project, which is expected to be completed in 2020, started with a five-story building that includes offices, a 500-seat theater, a black box theater, and recording studios. The design is intended to creatively integrate the character of the neighborhood, fusing contemporary and salvaged materials to serve as a cultural meeting point for generations to come. Tryba was also the chosen firm for a transit-oriented development called The Colorado Center. The Colorado Center includes a light rail station, a CarShare, and a bike/pedestrian bridge. The design will be centered around high-rise towers that offer working and living spaces, as well as retail, and entertainment areas. The 20-story residential tower will feature an unobstructed view of the Rocky Mountains and supply residents access to a lounge, a lap pool, and a yoga and fitness center.
535 East Mexico Avenue, Denver, CO 80210
About Venture Architecture
Venture Architecture is a small, tight-knit team with a big vision. The firm is led by LEED-certified Principal Architect Martin Goldstein. Goldstein received his Master of Architecture from the University of Colorado. Under his leadership, Venture’s mission has focused on one ultimate goal: to reveal each space’s innate beauty regardless of perceived obstacles. Although this company is more modest than other firms with a much longer history or a larger reach, their work is versatile, clean, creative, and modern. With their keen design eye, they’ve cultivated and renovated business headquarters and multi-family homes. As their work continues to come to completion, they will likely rise up the ladder of trusted, small-team Denver design firms.
One of the firm’s most iconic projects was the revitalization of a 110-year-old building. The Case Plow project presented a challenge: create a modern design without losing its century-old character and adapting it into a multi-use development that includes several retail spaces, restaurants, and loft areas. Case Plow’s rejuvenated brick exterior reflects the charm of days gone by. This project was made possible by federal and state historic tax credits and new market tax credits. The firm also completed another work for the commercial sector. The Applied Control is a headquarters facility for the local representative of a large national business based in South Metro Denver, and it fuses the clients’ practical needs with a functional and bright design. The work kept in mind future expansion, so the facility can adequately serve the growth of the company.