Project Fact Summary
Name of Project:
Project Completion Date or Entitlement Date:
Primary Materials Used:
Size of Building, Size of Site:
Cost of Construction and Scope of Work:
(i.e. goals of the project, special considerations, unique design requirements)
Sustainable Communities Award
March 6, 2007 (entitled)
The scope of work included the proposed redevelopment of a
brownfield site along the South Platte River in downtown Denver. The
project includes brownfield clean-up, new public spaces, increased
open space, river improvements, new residential and commercial uses.
A written description of the project, clearly outlining how the project
meets the underlying sustainable objectives of the awards.
See category submittal requirements (Pages 4-7 of original entry form)
Denver, like other major cities in the world, is intent on reclaiming former manufacturing sites
along its river corridors. These sites, historically the industrial origins in many cities, are now
seen as places to reconnect the natural environment with the city, providing a new type of post-industrial
district that allows cities to redefine their relationship with the natural environment.
Denargo Market is unique among these efforts by virtue of it being initiated by a private sector
client and its approach to integrating the local community in envisioning the future of the site. It
takes into consideration the local neighborhood and uses it as a basis for its planning. Denargo
looks beyond the immediate site to draw from larger neighborhood, community and
environmental assets to form a new district that contributes to the regeneration of this industrial
area while respecting its history and local attributes.
The vision of the client, design team and community stakeholders was to create a framework for
a successful mixed-use development that engages the existing art community and can become a
new emerging district in Denver. Early concerns included respecting the character of the
historical industrial uses, enhancing the river corridor, providing transportation connectivity,
overcoming physical constraints of surrounding property owners and ensuring that the public
spaces generate value for the community. These essential issues helped define the programmatic
and physical design of the project. The final design evolved to address these complex issues.
The project was also defined by critical questions confronting Denver, such as: How do we create
a viable development that links to the greater community, reconnects the city to the river and
embraces the River North Arts District? How do we create a model for contemporary public
space that reclaims the brownfield site, is sustainable and integrates the site’s history and art?
How does Denargo Market connect to the Platte River, the River North (RINO) neighborhood to
the City to create a district that reflects the local character while becoming a public asset for the
neighborhood and for downtown Denver? Denargo Market is designed to infuse RIVER, ART and
MARKET. The presence of the RIVER is evident in the parks; ART from the River North artists is
revealed within the public spaces; and 28th Street MARKET recalls the past history of the site. A
contemporary public space is formed, energizing a new development, the neighborhood and the
The MARKET Redefined
A significant part of the team’s analysis included a study of the site’s history and its relevance to
the future transformation of the neighborhood. The history of Denargo Market dates back to
1939 when 30,000 Denverites attended the opening of the produce market. The crowd was so
unexpectedly large that additional police officers were ordered to work on traffic flow. The
terminal supported the warehouses of 35 wholesalers, seven packers/shipping firms and 21 food
brokers. It combined a local growers’ association with a wholesale jobbers’ market. By 1945,
Denargo Market was a veritable town and had become so well known that it hosted visitors from
other cities looking for ideas to enlarge their own city’s market. A slow decline ensued and by
1984, the functional life of the market was dramatically impacted by new modes of transportation
and the relocation of industry to the outer edges of the city. However, the desire to recall this
historical influence and use it as a way to reinvigorate the new development emerged. The new
market design builds on this precedent, reinterpreting and forging a new identity for the district.
The planning goals included:
creating a public space that encourages community interaction of residents from River
North and the surrounding neighborhoods/districts
celebrating the history of the site by incorporating elements that recall the former market
and create a new activity hub
re-establishing a multi-modal center which allows for flexible programming and enhances
the value of the surrounding development area
Artist Collaboration and Local ART
The social and cultural analysis of the area included an extensive effort to investigate the local
importance of art in defining the future identity of the area. The River North neighborhood is
emerging as one of the most notable artist districts in Denver. Home to over 40 artists, is it
known as the place “where art is made.” Working studios for industrial artists, mixed-media,
painting and sculpting pepper the industrial district to give it a unique quality. The team toured
the district and initiated work sessions to gather feedback to retain the character of the area. As
a result of this outreach, the local artists were inspired to create the ‘Feed the RINO’ program
which sets voluntary standards for the developers to integrate the local artist community with
new sustainable development projects. The ongoing collaboration continued during regular work
sessions to influence the design of the public spaces. A competition for local artists in the district
is planned for the entry gateway and park space. Unlike other public art projects where a specific
percent is designated for an art piece, Denargo Market uses an organic approach by collaborating
with artists to establish new programs that create district identity and that support the
neighborhood art community. The specific planning goals included:
establishing and promoting the identity of the existing RINO art community; a place
“where art is made”
creating a gateway to the River North Arts District
establishing flexible spaces that showcase the creation of art and allow for revolving
exhibits of work
integrating local artistic components into infrastructure, parks and streets to create a
place which blurs the boundary between public space and art
Reconnecting to the RIVER
The planners conducted an analysis of larger ecological and open space system along the South
Platte River to gain an understanding for how this section of the river can be enhanced and
integrated with future development. The South Platte River runs north through the center of
Denver and the River North neighborhood. For the past 30 years Denver has been reclaiming
land adjacent to the river, creating new parks and open space and enhancing the ecological
functions of the corridor. There is an ongoing desire to reconnect Denver’s neighborhoods to the
Platte River -- a river that has been historically cutoff by railroads, highways and industrial uses.
The identity and character of the river in this area is unrecognizable and, in many instances,
hidden behind large industrial areas. The relation of most new development to the river is
undefined and poorly integrated. Denargo Market establishes a new model for future
development along the river corridor by integrating a series of parks and public spaces that form
the centerpiece of the district. The specific planning goals included:
promoting connectivity between the river and the existing neighborhoods
revealing the river along Brighton Boulevard, the primary link to the project from
encouraging interaction between people and the river
integrating existing river ecology with sustainable design
The team’s sustainable approach to the project was holistic, combining elements of social,
cultural, economic and environmental attributes. As post-industrial land and a former railyard, the
project is a brownfield site currently undergoing remediation to remove coal ash and other
substances from the soils. The rejuvenation of the site to a productive public space and mixed-use
development will enhance the livability of the area while improving environmental conditions
in the neighborhood.
The environmental goals also included the re-establishment, widening and enhancement of the
river corridor with native landscape plantings, grasses, riverbank vegetation and riparian species.
The stormwater system includes occupiable water quality ponds that are integrated into the
public space design. Stormwater is revealed during storm events, becoming a landscape feature.
The parks and plazas utilize water-efficient landscaping in all planter areas reducing water
requirements by 25 percent. Multimodal transportation connections include bus, direct links to
pedestrian and bicycle paths and a future light rail station.
Economic sustainability principles were built around the importance of supporting and growing
the local economy through collaboration with arts and local fabricators. Denargo Market will
achieve this through the ongoing collaboration with artists, encouraging new local enterprise,
supporting and sustaining existing businesses within the neighborhood and providing spaces and
activities for a broad range of local businesses.
The district’s social and cultural sustainability goals focus on the community by creating public
places that are connected to River North, the adjacent neighborhoods and downtown. This was
achieved by encouraging public participation in the planning process through regular
neighborhood meetings in River North and with other neighborhood organizations. The outcome
was the reinterpretation of the market and the formation of a new market gathering place:
D E N A R G O Concept Plan
D E N A R G O Thesis
• promote connectivity between the river and
the existing neighborhoods
• reveal the river along Brighton Boulevard
• encourage interaction between people and
• integrate existing river ecology with
sustainable design techniques
• create a space that encourages community
interaction of residents from RINO and the
• celebrate the history of the site by incorporating
elements that recall the former market and create
a new activity hub
• re-establish a multi-modal center which allows for
fl exible programming and enhances the value of
the surrounding development area
• establish and promote the identity of the existing
RINO art community; a place where art is made
• create a gateway to the River North Arts District
• establish fl exible spaces that showcase the
creation of art and allow for a revolving exhibit of
• integrate local artistic components into
infrastructure, parks and streets to create a place
which blurs the boundary between public space
D E N A R G O Urban Framework
16 TH STREET MALL
VIEW TO DOWNTOWN VIEW TO RIVER AND RAILYARD
VIEW FROM BALLPARK
VIEW FROM BROADWAY
VIEW FROM DELGANY
VIEW TO MOUNTAINS
16 TH STREET MALL
1/2 Mile, 10 min.
0.25 0.50 0.75 1.00
The plan connects Denver to the Platte River, strategically positions River North within the downtown context, establishes a pedestrian network
tying into the downtown network and revitalizes a degraded area at a prominent location within the downtown core.
D E N A R G O Neighborhood Analysis
An emerging downtown neighborhood, River North is a gateway to downtown and home to many artists. Many projects are
under development in the area with Denargo being one of the fi rst to defi ne the character of the area.
D E N A R G O Site Framework
The river and surrounding context inform building mass, form and density. The district is centered on the riverfront park
and tower views link the site to the downtown and mountain context.
Responding to Context
D E N A R G O Site Framework
Small parks, promenades, plazas and streets connect the district to the river and surrounding neighborhood.
D E N A R G O River North Art District
POTENTIAL PARK SPACE
SOUTH PLATTE RIVER
MAJOR TRAFFIC CORRIDOR
RINO ARTIST LOCATIONS
PROPOSED LIVE / WORK FLEX SPACE
Public art from RINO (local) artists is included in the public spaces. Artist collaboration resulted the creation
of a new art program for the local art community.
D E N A R G O River North Art District
Through our work sessions with RINO artists, standards were created to continually integrate the community into
the process while encouraging development to integrate art and sustainable practices.
D E N A R G O Landscape and Public Space Framework
UNDERGROUND DETENTION VAULT
WATER QUALITY / DETENTION
PERMEABLE PARK SUFACE
SOUTH PLATTE RIVER
CHILDREN’S PLAY AREA
CONTEMPORARY MARKET PLACE
NATIVE RIVER PLANTING
PATHS & PLAZAS
Contrary to most urban projects, Denargo integrates water quality ponds into the Riverfront park and plaza making them
occupiable park amenities. An underground detention vault stores the water before being released into the South Platte River.
D E N A R G O Open Space Axis
The river is pulled down the axis and revealed along Brighton Boulevard through abstracted river plantings. The market is expressed through the commercial activity along
28th Street (axis). Art is exhibited and integrated throughout the parks.
D E N A R G O Site Design
The master plan embeds the project into the neighborhood, city and river context and a new public space is formed.
D E N A R G O Riverfront Open Space
D E N A R G O Site Design
D E N A R G O Riverfront Park
Riverfront Park forms a contemporary public space, energizing a new development, the neighborhood and the City.
D E N A R G O Brighton Boulevard Open Space
Denargo serves as a gateway to the neighborhood and provides respite from surrounding urban elements. Abstract river plantings are pulled through the 28th Street
corridor revealing the river with the integration of art throughout.
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