In Denver’s booming real estate market, not all urban infill properties are created equal. Building a worthwhile community still begins with thoughtful, purposeful design.
Developing neighborhoods within a growing community like Denver is a creative endeavor that covers a range of categories for the companies who build them. It’s a business opportunity, sure. But it’s also an opportunity to wield great influence over crucial civic and aesthetic factors, and to impact quality of life for the people who live there, day in and day out.
Much has been made of the variable quality of these urban infill projects in our city, and rightfully so. Who hasn’t driven past a hastily-assembled project and thought: Really? Ugh.
Which is why it’s so encouraging to see that some builders still treat the design process with respect and deliberation.
The Lowry neighborhood in east Denver is getting a welcome addition in the form of CityHomes at Boulevard One, a 35-unit townhome development from Koelbel Urban Homes. The three-story vertical units boast a clamshell design that allows for more natural light and greater privacy, while also pushing and pulling on the depth and massing. Functionally, the clamshell provides a firewall between units. Aesthetically, it creates a rhythmic cadence for passersby. Rooftop decks and rear patios provide flexible outdoor space, and 10-inch stained cedar siding complements dark and light stucco to provide a warmth that can be seen from the street or felt from the living room.
“To create more surface area of exterior and windows we’ve pushed the massing forward and back,” said Michael Noda, founding partner of NeoStudio Architecture. “That gives you the opportunity for a lot more natural light. We get a lot more window in a bedroom, plus we get to maintain windows in some of the secondary spaces.” Not coincidentally, it also allows for creative boundary solutions that provide privacy on the rooftop decks, since the units are staggered rather than uniformly aligned.
Carl Koelbel of Koelbel Urban Homes places a high value on every last detail of the properties—up to, and including, those rooftops. “When you’re building in a state like Colorado, you want to provide some private outdoor space. Balconies are important, although not necessarily functional for the type of outdoor living people want. The added benefit of going to a rooftop is that there are views.”
Those views are nice, but they don’t tell the whole story. Noda and his team also worked with sustainability engineering firm Group14 to ensure that CityHomes exceeded strict HERS score requirements. This collaboration extended from the building envelope and design of the window systems all the way to the heating and cooling systems. Every step of the way, the focus was on creating a well-designed space that will be livable, flexible, and durable for years to come.
“We care very much about what we leave behind,” said Koelbel. “That’s part of the reason we put our name on the company. We want to stand behind this community and be proud of it. It’s more work, but you have to be willing to spend that time if you want to do it the right way.”