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Doors Open Denver Preview: Topo Designs Flagship Store

Not only does this retailer of backpacks, clothing, and accessories craft its own bags in a LEED-certified building between Denver and Boulder, its new flagship Larimer store is constructed from two reclaimed 40x10x8 shipping containers. The repurposed building has a rooftop deck, exposed steel posts and beams, and a hardwood floor made from the original flooring of the shipping containers.

Here is an image of the Topo Designs Flagship Store, courtesy of Doors Open Denver.


The developer of Topo’s space is Gravitas Development Group and it was built by Sprung Construction. The multi-tenant retail/office building is a total of 8,200 square foot. The tenants were curated by Denver branding guru, Mackey Saturday, to make a creative and cohesive set of companies. This includes shops, restaurants, coffee shops, design firms etc. The double-story shipping containers are arranged to create a courtyard in the center, with floor-to-ceiling windows providing views in to these local small businesses.

This building preview is part of DenverUrbanism’s special countdown series to Doors Open Denver 2015. Click here for more information on Doors Open Denver.

Doors Open Denver Preview: The Source

The Source is housed in the 1880s Colorado Iron Works foundry, complete with its original massive steel crane and 60ft peaked ceilings. Visitors will notice soaring trusses overhead, natural light filtering in through clerestory windows, wide brick columns, and 5 newly-installed 18 foot-tall glass garage doors. Interior walls were constructed from steel studs spaced 4″ apart with the drywall left off. This gives a sense of permeability to the space, allowing visitors to experience its full scale while adding a gleaming silver counterpoint to the weathered brick shell. The walls rise 11 feet, leaving unobstructed much of the vertical clear space that is one of the building’s greatest amenities. Sections of the stud walls operate as large vertical doors for tenant bays, rolling straight up to reveal individual shops. Abundant graffiti left over from decades of disuse and abandonment adds color to both the building’s interior and exterior walls.

Other relics from the Source’s many former lives are also clearly visible throughout the space including old railroad ties imbedded in the brick. Marble wainscoting removed from the historic Colorado National Bank building at 17th and Champa during its recent renovation has found new life as tables and counters throughout the Source. Other common elements include ebonized maple bartops and banquettes, exposed ductwork, and brightly-colored graphics.

Here is an image of The Source, courtesy of Doors Open Denver.


Among The Source’s 15 tenants are Acorn, a wood-fired restaurant and cocktail bar owned by the team behind Oak at Fourteenth; Comida, a modern Mexican taqueria; CapRock Farm Bar, a crafted cocktail and juice bar; and Babettes Artisan Breads, a traditional French bakery. In the Commissary Space of the building are Meathead, a butcher; Americanum Provisions, a specialty produce market; and floral shop Beet & Yarrow. Tenants also include SVPER ORDINARY, a design store and exhibit space; The Proper Pour, an independent wine and spirits bottle shop, and Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, a cultish brewery specializing in funky and sour beers. Also setting up shop at The Source are Boulder-based Boxcar Coffee Roasters and Mondo Market, a cheese, spice, and specialty food store. The Source offers a one-stop shopping experience for the food-obsessed while also providing some of Denver’s best artisans with an outlet for their crafts.

The openness of the building speaks to its community-oriented philosophy. It was repurposed under the guidance of architect Stephen Dynia with a strong commitment to preserving its industrial identity while adapting it for its current use. The industrial design with clear layers of new materials complementing the original shell conveys the integrity and edginess both of the tenants themselves and of this new marketplace.

This building preview is part of DenverUrbanism’s special countdown series to Doors Open Denver 2015. Click here for more information on Doors Open Denver.

Doors Open Denver Preview: The Perrenoud Apartments

Mr. Perrenoud was a Swiss native of French parentage. He immigrated to New York as a young man, and the Perrenoud family were Denver pioneers. They arrived in 1862 in a mule-drawn ambulance consigned for delivery to Roman Catholic Bishop Machebeauf.  They traveled for six weeks from Omaha to deliver the vehicle, which was used as both an ambulance and hearse. Mr. Perrenoud died on Jan. 3, 1900 at the age of 91 just 3 days after the death of his only son, Gustave, who was tragically killed by a runaway team of horses in New York City.

The three surviving daughters (R. Louise Perrenoud Fisher, Zelie Perrenoud Ruter, and Adele Perrenoud) moved into units 1A, 2B, and 2A respectively in 1902. Zelie’s husband, Charles Ruter, was primarily responsible for decisions regarding the design and construction of the Perrenoud. Charles was the executor of the Perrenoud Estate and also became manager of the Perrenoud Investment Company, meeting regularly with the architect, Frank Snell, and consulting with the sisters to select finish items. Charles managed the Perrenoud until his death in 1910.  Zelie followed Charles in death in 1913 at the age of 68.

The two remaining sisters managed the apartments until 1922 when they sold the building.   Although it changed hands many times from 1922 until 1949, the building’s use remained residential apartments.  In 1949, the residents purchased the building from the National Farmers Union Life Association in order to save it from becoming an office building. It became the first and one of Denver’s rare coops, and in 1986 became condominiums.

Here is an image of The Perrenoud Apartments, courtesy of Doors Open Denver.


When the building first opened it was run much like a private club.  The lower level contained a kitchen with a full time chef, a dining room, a ballroom, and a staffed laundry.  Each unit had its own dumbwaiter and residents could have food sent directly to their own apartment.  Maid’s quarters were located in the attic. They still remain today and are used for storage.  Servants could come and go from the attic to the lower level and all floors in between to reach the backdoor of any apartment by means of 4 interior staircases not visible from the lobby. Now the dumbwaiters are gone, as is the kitchen.  The original dining room is used for meetings and the once spectacular ballroom is now used as an exercise facility.  On the lower level is an apartment for the use of our resident managers, as well as an archive gallery with much more in-depth information and photos about this amazing building and the family who built it.

The architectural style of the Perrenoud Apartments is an eclectic mix of classical elements. The somewhat austere exterior stands in contrast to an interior rich with decorative features. The 4 exceptional pieces of stained glass—the exterior entrance light, the window transom above the entrance, the fireplace glass front, and the magnificent atrium ceiling—are all original.

The Italian marble entry steps, elegant marble and French plate mirrored entry hall, mosaic tile floor and even the lobby furniture are all original. The date 1901 appears on all of the column plaster capitals. The birdcage elevator is original and the only functioning one of its type remaining in Denver.  The desk by the elevator was originally used as an internal switchboard whereby residents could call each other or call one of many service departments. Communication with the staff was also available through speaking tubes and call buttons in each apartment. The fireplace stone is translucent onyx.  The building originally had a combination of electric and gas lights. The building is divided into 6 separate wings so that each apartment is isolated from the rest and has windows on 3 sides.  Light corridors separate the wings.

This building preview is part of DenverUrbanism’s special countdown series to Doors Open Denver 2015. Click here for more information on Doors Open Denver.

Doors Open Denver Preview: The Nichols Building

A healthy, innovative workplace is the basis of design for the Nichols Building, a four-story, mixed use collaborative space. The bike barn, fitness facility and event spaces all aim to promote building community. The new neighborhood retail/restaurant will further activate Platte Street with sidewalk dining and will also serve as a hub for the professional community within.

Here is an image of The Nichols Building, courtesy of Doors Open Denver.


The building’s second front door, opposite Platte Street on the east side, touts an outdoor patio and green space overlooking the Platte River and Denver’s skyline. A public-private partnership with the City of Denver gives way to a new public pedestrian trail along the Platte River and promotes multi-modal building access.

The Nichols Building brings a vibrancy to Platte Street, as a place called home by Denver’s top tech entrepreneurs. Galvanize, their g-school community and Pivotal Labs are a few of the top companies that call The Nichols Building home. The building showcases its raw steel structure with natural daylight, a central atrium staircase, floor-to-ceiling windows and premier views of downtown Denver from the 4th floor community deck.

This building preview is part of DenverUrbanism’s special countdown series to Doors Open Denver 2015. Click here for more information on Doors Open Denver.

Doors Open Denver Preview: The Lobby in the Paris Hotel

Original brick walls, European style courtyard, stained glass ceiling, and grand staircase make this a very unique oasis in the city. The Paris Hotel has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Originally called Hamburger Block, the Paris Hotel was built in 1891 and is a typical example of late 19th century commercial style buildings in Denver.

George Hamburger was born in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, and developed a harness and saddlery business as a young adult. He came to the U.S. in 1871 and spent a year in St. Louis before coming to Denver, where he continued his trade and operated a small store. When Hamburger sold out in 1891 with the hope of retiring, he invested part of his profits in real estate, purchasing four lots in the 2100 block of Arapahoe Street. He hired architect Richard Phillips to design his three-story brick business block. Phillips designed buildings which were solidly fashionable for clients who wanted attractive, well-built structures to display their owner’s good taste and social position. Thus, the Hamburger Block, with its ornate metal cornice, richly detailed brickwork and generous fenestration throughout is an excellent example both of Phillips’s work and of commercial/residential investment buildings in late 19th century Denver.

Here is an image of The Lobby in the Paris Hotel building, courtesy of Doors Open Denver.


Constructed on a rusticated stone foundation, the flat-roofed building has exterior and interior walls of red brick. Designed for commercial and residential use, the building features a three bay cast-iron storefront on the Arapahoe street façade. The second and third floors on both street elevations are built of fine hard-fired brick work.

From the beginning, the first floor commercial space housed a variety of tenants, from Samuel Samuels who operated a tailor shop, to Brewers and Bottlers’ supply shop. By 1926, all retail space in the Hamburger Block was vacant except for Edward J. Milan who operated the Saxon Hotel upstairs. In 1927-1928 he occupied the retail space with a restaurant which set the following trend for the building’s use.

In 1935, the residential hotel portion of the building reopened as the Paris Hotel, named for its proprietor, Paris Hargis. In 1942 the restaurant space was opened to the basement and a balcony bandstand was added to the first floor. In 1954, the hotel floors were left vacant, although the first floor housing units were occupied until 1965 and the restaurant operating until 1982. Over the next six years, the building sat entirely vacant except for the incidental use by vagrants and the homeless. When rehabilitation work started in 1989, the original second and third floor area of the building was completely rebuilt and three-story apartment units were inserted into the former two-story space. Today, refinished studio spaces occupy the original first floor space.

This building preview is part of DenverUrbanism’s special countdown series to Doors Open Denver 2015. Click here for more information on Doors Open Denver.