Welcome to the neighborhood, Populus Hotel

Denver and the upper downtown will soon become home to the very first carbon positive hotel in the country, the Populus Hotel. Architect Heather Wildman, the principal design director of Wildman Chalmers Design wanted to create an iconic hotel inspired by Colorado’s natural surroundings while also showing a high degree of environmental stewardship in construction and design. The fourteen story, 265 guest suite hotel is located on the triangular corner of 14th Street, Colfax, and Court. Historically, this lot once housed the first gas station in Colorado over one hundred years ago. How fitting and ironic to now see the first carbon positive hotel being built at that same location. Once completed, the exterior design will be unique as the façade will have the appearance of the bark on an Aspen tree.

George Prine, General Manager of the Populus Hotel, is extremely excited about the architectural statement of the structure along with its mission of carbon positivity. Prine shared that the carbon positive benefits of the hotel come from the construction material being used, to the “use less” approach in the hotel operation, to even the planting of over 70,000 Engleman spruce trees in Gunnison County as part of the overall hotel’s carbon positive plan and mission.

When Price was asked about how they plan to stay carbon positive, he replied: “It won’t be just one method, but a collection of many things. The hotel will be powered by wind and solar, the almost 100% elimination of plastic usage, recycling, to composting food scraps from their two restaurants (one on the roof), the use of mass transit in lieu of a parking garage, and even the use of EcoPact low-carbon concrete mix in construction that creates 30% less carbon than standard concrete.”  The hotel will also be planting one tree for every guest stay as part of their mission to stay carbon positive.

The interior will have an earthy feel with neutral tones. Many of the interior design materials are either reclaimed or repurposed. A few examples are the wood ceiling panels taken from the weathered and worn snow fences of Wyoming’ and the front desk fashioned from a fallen cottonwood tree. Even trees removed from the 16th Street Mail have been repurposed as exterior benches around the building.

It’s exciting to see this structure taking its place in the Denver Skyline. With so many high-rise boxy looks and no architectural finesse, the Populus Hotel will become a city landmark. With a greater emphasis on reducing our carbon footprint, it is great to see new and creative building designs that can be both beautiful and environmentally responsible.

Jack Murphy, Treasurer UpDoNa


Thumbnail attribution: Studio Gang

Previous UpDoNA Cares – January 2024
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