Provided: Architecture + General Contracting
Location: Denver, CO
Completed: October 2017
tres birds workshop, in partnership with Urban Ventures and White Construction, turned this once derelict building into a vibrant mixed-use commercial space.
Housed in a historically industrial corridor between I-25 and the South Platte River, the 80,000 SF brick structure, scattered with windows and skylights, commands attention from both adjacent arteries. Since its construction in 1918, the building had been a soap factory and rag baling facility (among other lives), before boarding up its windows in the mid-80s.
The bones consisted of three-wide brick walls, timber framed post beam decking, and deeply worn wood flooring. A series of disjointed remodels and 30 years of abandonment had cloaked much of the building’s raw beauty.
tres birds set out to open up the space, finding opportunities for fresh air and natural light. Tenants and guests now enter the building through an anchored industrial elevator, revealing a recessed building “facade” and partially enclosed walkway flanking the west-facing perimeter walls. The recessed front doors open to a cafe and three story rag baler: a remnant from the building’s days as a rag recycling facility, now polished and encircled by a custom, glulam wood staircase.
Along the open-air walkway, window openings were either left empty, or filled with aspect tuned glass panes. From the inside, the glass pulls soft light into the space. From the outside, it creates a flickering effect like ripples on water, drawing from the sensory qualities of the adjacent Platte River. Custom domes placed over the original skylight structures pull soft light into the inner corridors while maintaining early-1900s industrial aesthetic. All other windows are aspect tuned, meaning each window’s transmittance coefficient is tailored to its specific location on the building.
Inside, the structure was restored to highlight original elements—years of wear scraped from the brick walls and wood flooring. Floor plates and walls were strategically removed to foster visual connections across disparate spaces. Concrete floating panels serve as walkways while simultaneously housing necessary wiring for future tenants. Custom conference tables were installed, made from repurposed pine bowling alley lanes. The layout was designed to be adaptable, energetic, and open while providing the amenities, security, and privacy desired by dynamic, modern companies.
In accordance with tres birds’ ongoing environmental stewardship, any original materials that could be salvaged were. The building employs a heavily insulated roof and aspect tuned thermal glazing
resulting in a low operating energy by modern standards while exposing the original structural bones.
The building opened in September, and houses an diverse mix of companies spanning various industries and sizes. It is a fusion of past and present, a guidepost for reclamation over demolition, and a reflection of our ever-changing community and organizational needs.
For more of our work visit: tresbirds.com