For years, 900 Penn, a seven-story apartment in the Governor’s Park neighborhood south of downtown Denver, sat neglected and half occupied. Faced in red brick with a Hoard Johnson-esque mansard roof, it was both a local icon and, increasingly, a local eyesore.

 

Its prospects changed when it was bought by a Denver software entrepreneur, Nadine Lange, who saw an opportunity to build a luxury address in a rapidly gentrifying part of the city. Rather than demolish the tower, she decided to renovate and reconfigure the 24,000-square-foot building, installing a single 3,000-square-foot residence on each floor, plus a ground-floor guest suite. 

 

To spearhead the renovation, she hired Davis Urban, a local firm known for its restrained Modernism. Founded in 2011, the firm and its founding principal, Matt Davis, AIA, have quickly made a name for themselves designing bespoke infill residences around Denver, as well as finding creative ways to repurpose overlooked relics from the city’s industrial past for commercial and residential clients.


Davis’s solution for 900 Penn was to strip off the brick and pull back the facade to create space for expansive decks-two per floor and to accommodate floor-to-ceiling sliding windows along much of the exterior. An added roof terrace includes an open fireplace and a trellis-covered dining area. Two service cores-one centered on an elevator shaft and the other around an emergency stair-are clad in gray brick.


The result is a mid-rise tower that bears only the slightest resemblance to its previous self: sleek and simplified where before it was fussy, light and light-filled where it was dark and brooding. In its new form, 900 Penn is still a neighborhood icon, but it is no longer an eyesore.

DARRELL
HAMILTON