Adaptive Reuse: Colorado National Bank Hotel Conversion Update #4

It’s time to revisit the Colorado National Bank Hotel conversion as a lot has happened since our last update. This is the adaptive reuse project that is giving the historic Colorado National Bank building a new life and look along 17th Street in central Downtown Denver.

The facade on the additional two floors is more or less complete and the core on the back side has been painted. The addition has a contrasting dark grey color compared to the building’s white facade.


This is pretty much what the final product is going to look like. Before you judge the design, color, and overall look of the new addition, keep this in mind: The Colorado National Bank building originally opened in 1915. You can clearly see the resemblance of that era’s architecture on the first two floors. In 1963, an additional three floors were built on top of the original building which look no different than a typical low-rise office building from that time period. Finally, in 2013, we have the additional two floors which reflects our contemporary architecture from the 2010 era. This is a building that reflects architecture and design from three different periods of time. That’s pretty neat!


The Colorado National Bank Hotel is expected to be complete by the end of this year and will add an additional 230 much needed hotel rooms to Downtown Denver!

By | 2016-12-27T21:42:25+00:00 August 12, 2013|Categories: Adaptive Reuse, Historic Preservation|Tags: |20 Comments


  1. Chad August 12, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    I realize that they’re trying to place a really simple modern cube on top of the building so as not to distract from the other architecture, but I really think that a simple cornice on the new addition would have elegantly tied the three buildings together.

    • UrbanZen August 13, 2013 at 11:34 am

      I think they were trying to accentuate the older, more detailed architecture, not even really wanting to tie it all together, which IMO would have lead to a jumbled mess. I think they succeeded. I especially like the use of the two-tones to really set off the marble portions.

  2. Rob August 13, 2013 at 9:18 am

    I agree with Chad. I think it looks like a cheap afterthought of an addition.

    If modernity was the approach, it was definitely not pushed hard enough (or at all)… The three sections are definitely testament to their time… Apparently stucco and tiny windows are ours to behold.

  3. Willie August 13, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Really couldn’t be more lame…a shame. I hope this isn’t seen as a reflection of the quality of today’s architecture, because that would signal a sorry state of affairs.

  4. Kevin August 13, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    I concur with Willie. What a colossal tragedy. A completely unimaginative and horrible display of architecture, materials, and shape. I can recall having to jump thru hoops with the city to change the size of a bathroom window in a Historic District with complete care and concern towards the original look, and all the while the city let’s this happen. So very sad!

  5. Freddie August 13, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Maybe in a hundred years it’ll be a skyscraper with every few floors being a different style and color. :p

  6. Larry August 13, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Please reskin this travesty before they open it! This is by no means modern in any sense of the word. Those windows absolutely destroy that building. If they did a really elegant modern (not contemporary) addition, that was simple yet detailed where it counts, this would have been a different project. Heck, bright orange shipping containers would have been better – at least they would have tried.

  7. Kari August 14, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Awful. I agree with every prior post. The building USED to be one of the most beautiful we had to offer, and now it looks hideous. I look at it every day and was hoping that whatever they were doing was only a temporary construct to build something way better on top of. Sadly, no. I am hoping they at least keep the inside ceiling cut-out.

  8. UrbanSky August 14, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Wow..just wow. Gorgeous building that is pretty much ruined by a CHEAP, TERRIBLE renovation. What architect or developer can actually be proud to put this on their resume. Disgusting. Even more disgusting that the city of Denver does not have design guidelines to prevent crap like this. Are we willing to sell our soul to fill an empty building. Seems like it. Reminds me a lot of how the city let the mid-century May D&F paraboloid get bull-dozed for the mediocre (at best) Adams Mark Hotel. Wake up, Denver!

  9. Richard August 14, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    It would’ve looked much better if the addition were all glass, or metal panels. It looks like stucco or EIFS.

  10. Shaka August 15, 2013 at 10:30 am

    I enjoy the style of architecture on the two lower floors, and I’m glad that they downplayed the top piece to better accent the historical value of the building. They could have built right to the roofline or made an attempt at ‘gothing’ the top part of the structure, but they kept it minimalist. Besides: I stay inside the hotel, not on the outside.

  11. Chris August 15, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    What a disaster! This now might be one the ugliest facades in Denver- way to ruin a historic building!! I’m so tied of projects being “VE’ed” to the point of embarrassment. When will people learn that when you pay a little more on the front end and save a ton long term.

    “You seldom improve quality by cutting
    costs, but you can often cut costs
    by improving quality.”
    – Karl Albrecht: a German entrepreneur who founded the supermarket chain Aldi

  12. John R August 16, 2013 at 7:15 am

    You know, I read what was said in the article about not judging too harshly but I just can’t approve of this addition. It’s got the cheap stucco look of a low-rent apartment building. I guess we get what we deserve though and modern architecture just isn’t up to snuff. Our buildings are all made of twigs and mud and it shows.

    • jc August 22, 2013 at 4:56 am

      “look of a low-rent apartment building.” YES. Exactly right.

    • jc August 22, 2013 at 6:02 am

      One more thing – This is true to the rendering except the rendering showed black window frames around the windows. Are those not being done now? That would at least give somewhat alleviate the flat empty facade.

  13. Dan August 18, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Count me in with the rest who think this looks HORRIBLE!

    It’s hard to believe that an architect can look at the previous two incarnations of the historic building (contrasting though they are) and decide to plop 2 floors of bland, boring, non-relatable, cheap stucco on top. Why not a glass curtain wall that doesn’t detract from the old building(s) and adds a smooth ,elegant, modern element?? Seems basic.

    And even harder to believe is that the city of Denver would approve this!! What a joke.

  14. Octavian August 18, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    It looks pretty bad.

  15. JC August 20, 2013 at 7:05 am

    Now, I will say that anything is better than what it formerly was: a graffiti bum haven, BUT…What the…???
    My God, simple design is fine, but I am absolutely shocked, SHOCKED by the windows in the top! Single sash aluminum windows??? Where did they pick them up? At True Value Hardware? Absolutely atrocious. At this point, for damage control they need to paint it white. The grey makes the top look like an concrete garage. White will hide the “window frames” and it can blend in with the lower building portions.
    This cannot be what Denver Preservationists imagined for this building.

    • JC August 20, 2013 at 7:14 am

      …ps… further down 17th toward Union Station there is a building with similar design, but you will see that the designers used high quality materials. It looks modern but extremely tasteful. For this building, someone needs to insist that those windows are replaced! Oh, the humanity!

    • Krystal M August 28, 2013 at 11:31 am

      100% agree with everything you just said…

      while I think it’s awesome they decided to adaptively reuse the building and I love the idea of architecture from 3 different times in 1 building… they didn’t do it very well.

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