Carbon-Positive Hotel Breaks Ground in Denver


Crews recently broke ground on what is being touted as the nation’s first carbon-positive hotel. Developed by Urban Villages and designed by Studio Gang, the 13-story, 265-room hotel is expected to open in downtown Denver by late 2023.

“Improving the resiliency of our cities has never been more urgent—and it includes reducing carbon emissions as well as strengthening community bonds,” Jeanne Gang, Founder of Studio Gang, said in a statement. “We’ve designed Populus to be a new destination in downtown Denver that combines these environmental and social ambitions.”

About Populous

According to reports published earlier this year, the triangular-shaped, 130,000-square-foot building’s design, with help from the architect on record The Beck Group, was inspired by the aspen tree. Slated to feature an all-white exterior, the eye-shaped, lidded windows share a similar shape to the tree’s bark as seen in nature.

The window lids and façade of the building are designed to offer high environmental performance, according to Studio Gang, as they’ll provide shade, insulation and are capable of channeling rainwater.

The bottom of the structure will feature various arched points with glazing in between to cover the lobby and other ground-level amenities. On the roof, designers have created a space for a restaurant and public garden terrace.

To achieve carbon positivity, Urban Villages reports that the project will involve onsite carbon mitigation practices, as well as offsite initiatives. This includes a slew of construction processes, including the use of low-carbon concrete mixtures, recycled content materials and the maximization of structural efficiency and minimizing waste and finish materials.

In addition, crews also plan to carry out “substantial ecological effort offsite, including an initial commitment to planting trees that represent over 5,000 acres of forest.” Although this is not a direct feature of the hotel, developers claim that it will “offset an embodied carbon footprint equivalent to nearly 500,000 gallons of gas and [remove] additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”

“Before we started construction on Populus, we calculated the carbon footprint of the entire project,” said Jon Buerge, Chief Development Officer of Urban Villages. “This included the extraction, production, transportation, and construction of every element of the building.”

As part of these efforts, it is reported that the hotel’s overall use (operational carbon) and every guest stay will be offset, in addition to the building’s embodied carbon.

Others currently working on the project include MEP engineer Klok Group, structural engineer Studio NYL and general contractor Matt Archuletta.

Recent Studio Gang Project

Back in April, it was reported that crews were making headway at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York’s Manhattan Upper West Side. The project has been undergoing a $431 million expansion since 2019.

Chicago-based Studio Gang was tapped several years ago to design the 230,000-square-foot facility, which has since been described by reports as a “scientific temple dedicated to research, education and deepening the public’s connection to science.”

According to reports, architect Jeanne Gang developed the designs while New York–based Davis Brody Bond was brought on to serve as the project’s executive architect. During the design process, Gang and her team utilized high-tech and analog methods to play with the structure’s form, but also looked into erosion, tectonics and other geologic processes.

Being constructed next to the nearly 150-year-old original Victorian Gothic building of the AMNH, the multi-story Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation will be comprised of a library, a theater with 23-foot-high walls, a 3,000-square-foot butterfly vivarium, a 5,000-square-foot insectarium and additional spaces for exhibitions and education.

The space is also slated to have clear skybridges for the crossing of leafcutter ants and a fungal garden.

The center is named after philanthropist Richard Gilder, a fifth-generation New Yorker who co-founded the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Central Park Community Fund. Over the course of his lifetime, Gilder gave $140 million to AMNH, which included the initial donation for the new building.

In renderings of the expansion, viewers are met with cavernous, fluid spaces that offer large openings and views into various exhibition spaces. The amoeba-like, light-filled and airy central hall was reportedly designed to emphasize the connectedness of scientific disciplines and inspire curiosity.

The new space is also noted to allow for circular movement through the building, thus preventing long hallways and dead ends like in older sections of the facility.

To construct the massive expansion and prevent encroachment into the adjacent Theodore Roosevelt Park, three existing structures were demolished. The curved space was then created with shaped reinforcing bars. More recently, the bars have been sprayed with shotcrete as opposed to using traditional pourable concrete.

According to reports, the use of shotcrete has eliminated the need for large quantities of wood to create the formwork and associated waste. The shotcrete has also been used by taxidermists to create scenes in the museum's dioramas.

The exterior is slated to be covered in Milford pink granite to match the building’s facade on Central Park West. The building’s high-performance envelope with its stone-cladding will help keep it naturally cool in the summer. The structure will also be powered by steam and electricitiy.

The Gilder Center is the 23rd building in the museum complex which occupies four city blocks. Once completed, the center’s insectarium will host 30 orders of live insects and will reportedly be home to the largest display of leafcutter ants in the world.

Currently, the City of New York has allocated funding of over $90 million to the AMNH, and another $17 million came from the state for the new center.

The new research facility is expected to open in late 2022 or early 2023.


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Carbon dioxide; Carbon footprint; Color + Design; Color + Design; Commercial / Architectural; Commercial Buildings; Commercial contractors; Design; Design - Commercial; Design build; Energy efficiency; Hotels; Mixed-Use Facility; NA; North America; Program/Project Management

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.