Eco-minded developer Urban Villages wanted to build a hotel caddy corner from Civic Center Park that would remind Denverites of nature — something new development is more likely to trounce than treasure.
The architecture firm Studio Gang designed the building to look like an aspen tree. It’s all part of a “biophilic architecture” movement celebrating and participating in nature.
On ground level, dubbed “the Forest Floor,” the Populus attempted to create a relaxing entryway making guests feel like they’ve left the city for the wilderness. The “Aspen-eye windows” will be up to 30 feet high.
Similar windows are also in the hotel’s 265 guest rooms.
“Long drapes soften the exposed concrete ceilings and frame the Aspen-eye shaped windows, creating a theater-like experience that sets the stage for stunning city and mountain views, and carpeting made from recycled materials with subtle texture and pattern further softens the mood,” the developer explained in a press release.
But for some Denverites, that’s a downright weird deviation from standard rectangular windows.
Everybody knows what a window should look like. After all, unless you live in a submarine, there’s a good chance you’re used to having a view defined by right angles.
Can you really look out of a diamond or oval? Okay, seriously, you know the answer is yes. But are these windows corny or actually cool? Does the lack of rectangles mess up the experience of looking outside?
When the hotel finally opens, the views are going to be stunning — at least, based on photos supplied by the developers, who didn’t let Denverite inside to take our own photos.
Wildman Chalmers Design also created interiors to reflect the outside and mirror the natural environment surrounding Denver.
“For Urban Villages, it was crucial that we pair Populus’ stunning architectural design – destined to forever change Denver’s skyline – with remarkable interior design that could seamlessly marry the building’s sculptural form with warm, welcoming interiors while extending its nature-inspired ethos,” said Jon Buerge, President and Partner at Urban Villages.
Beyond the look, the developers have big ideas about how the project will help the environment.
The building process itself attempts to offset the carbon footprint of construction and eventually the hotel’s activities by funding tree-planting initiatives and carbon-sequestering projects.
Here’s how the boosters explain it: “As the country’s first carbon positive hotel, Populus’ embodied and operational carbon footprint is being offset through forest and agricultural collaborations that sequester more carbon than the building emits throughout its lifecycle – having a net positive impact on climate change and leaving the planet in a better place. Already, over 70,000 trees were planted in Gunnison County, CO in partnership with One Tree Planted vis-à-vis the United States Forest Service.”
The views take “center stage” and offer a mix of vistas from downtown buildings to the Rockies and the State Capitol.
“In many guest rooms, the windows themselves extend into a curved, cushioned bench that provides a space for guests to intimately soak in the views and mimics the experience of relaxing in a hammock amidst nature,” the developer explained.
“The hotel’s nature-forward design and art program bring the great outdoors directly into the thriving urban center of Denver, offering guests and locals the best of the Mountain West in a memorable, inspiring way,” said Mario Tricoci, CEO of Aparium Hotel Group, the group managing the Populus.
We’ll see, when it finally opens in summer of 2024.