muchow a-frame usonian

denver, photos — May 13, 2009

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An outstanding A-frame Usonian home designed 1954, by master architect
William Muchow.

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Muchow Associates Architects designed over 800 buildings, mostly in the Denver area. From important large commercial commissions to beautiful Usonian homes such as this.

This home is in Cherry Creek, a similar Muchow A-frame exists in Southern Hills, and I have heard rumors the Muchow himself once lived in this picturesque house.

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Notice the incredible skylights, the large expanses of glass and the roof that seems to just hang in mid-air. . .

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denver usonia

denver, photos — May 10, 2009

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A perfect example of a beautiful kept Denver Usonian home, the Touff House, designed 1958 by Victor Hornbein. The design was meant to keep a low profile to avoid blocking other homes views of the mountains, a consideration you do not often see these days.

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Victor Hornbein designed many of Denver’s greatest examples of the Usonian architectural style pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright. Two examples of his non-residential commissions are the Ross-Broadway Library and the Denver Botanical Gardens.

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Speaking of gardens, not only is this house decorated with beautiful artwork, but is has outstanding landscaping.

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Here are some other examples of Usonian architecture from the same Denver neighborhood.

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some random mod homes

photos — April 25, 2009

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Welcome to Modeling Mid-Century Modern. Originally intended for my illustrations, I later incuded photography and historical features.

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denver hilton

denver, photos — April 20, 2009

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The Denver Hilton, now the Denver Sheraton, downtown on the
16th Street Mall
. This was built 1960 as part of the famously-lost
Zeckendorf Plaza
designed by the firm of world famous architect,
I.M. Pei
. The Sheraton is now all that is left of the plaza.
(The entranceway is a recent addition.)

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I was fortunate enough to take the Doors Open Denver Pedestrian
Walking Tour
by Denver architect and city hero Alan Gass. He worked
for I.M. Pei’s firm during the period of the construction of the Mile High Center
and the Zeckendorf Plaza.

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It rained almost the entire time and I was thoroughly soaked by the end of the two hour tour, but listening to Mr. Gass’ recollections of Denver architectural history was worth every minute.

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As everyone from the Front Range knows, it can snow and rain on Friday and Saturday, but come Sunday when I took these photos, it was about 70 degrees.

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The Zeckendorf Plaza included a skating rink and the famous hyperbolic paraboloid by Pei. The Hilton overlooked the rink. This would have been your view while skating.

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Even without the plaza, the surviving Sheraton is still a great example of mid-century modern architecture.

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I.M Pei’s two other surviving buildings in Colorado are the Mile High Center and the outstanding N.C.A.R. in Boulder, which Gass referred to as “the best building in the state”.

denver googie signage

denver, photos — April 5, 2009

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I was so excited when I spotted this example of Denver Googie signage,
that I rushed over to photograph it, without waiting for the snow to melt!

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You can see the zig-zag pattern of the lights representing the tipped
martini drink pouring toward the restaurant. Spill your drinks here!

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There are still a dozen or so martini glass signs around town, the
Satire Lounge
being the most prominent in Denver. I didn’t have
a good picture of the R&R Lounge handy, but I did have a couple
of the Mozart Lounge.

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The Mozart Lounge is located over by the Mayfair Shopping
Center
off of 13th.

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This reminded me to check on the current condition of the old
44th Avenue Grill
sign, now being used at the new location
of the last remaining Gordo’s restaurant.

44th Avenue Grill was on the corner of Wadsworth and 44th, they
replaced the building, but kept the sign, moving it back west on
44th. They seem to have kept the martini glass intact, but the
lettering is replaced and in a contemporary desktop-publishing
font, and hey, they cut off the Gordo’s logo a little! That’s odd.

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Ah, now this is more like it! This is the other original sign from Wads.
and 44th, again, moved a little west, lightbulbs and lettering intact!
Beautiful! And plural no less. . .

My friend Greg sent me this picture of another tipped martini glass sign out on Leetsdale. He has some cool photography sites, such as Gregory Ego Photos and Denver Images

denver art deco - buerger brothers building

denver, photos — March 29, 2009

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The Buerger Brothers Building in downtown Denver, designed 1929 by
Montana Fallis.

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Buerger Brothers was a beauty supply company, so the beauty of the building itself was clearly important to them. They stayed in this building until 1972.

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This building was built at the same time as Montana Fallis’ other surviving Art Deco Denver design, the Mayan Theatre.

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Clad with beautiful terra cotta designs, this building is another grand example of Denver Art Deco.

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In 1937, Buerger Brothers expanded into the neighboring building, which was given an Art Deco white tile makeover.

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The Buerger Brothers Annex was originally the Denver Fire Clay Co. Building. Traces can be seen in the ghost signage on the brick side of the building.

art deco film theaters

boulder, denver, photos — March 12, 2009

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Two Colorado Art Deco film theaters. First up, the Boulder Theater.

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Originally built as an opera house in 1906, it was remodelled in
terra cotta Art Deco by Robert Boller in 1936.

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The Boller Brothers were from Kansas City and built Art Deco theaters all over Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

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The theater was turned into a concert hall in 1981, and great care
is taken to preserve this building.

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Even though Boulder had a smoking ban long before the rest of the state, and because Boulder is a college town, the theater has a reputation that on concert nights there still seems to be some sort of smoke wafting around. ;<)

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Next up, the Mayan Theatre in Denver.

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The Mayan was also built in terra cotta Art Deco style, with a design by
Montana Fallis. It was slated to be demolished in the 1980s, but it was
rescued by preservationists and restored and reopened as an art theater in 1986.

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Art Deco theater designers often revived historical cultures like the Egyptian and the Mayan. In fact Montana Fallis also designed the Egyptian Theatre in Delta, CO, two years prior to The Mayan.

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Montana Fallis designed the Buerger Brothers Building one of Denver’s most famous Art Deco landmarks. I was going to link to my pictures of it, but I am shocked to see that I haven’t posted photos of it yet. I could have sworn I had. Look for that as the next post!

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Fallis also designed the Oxford Hotel Annex in 1912, just north of the main building. While it is not Art Deco, it is clad in white terra cotta.

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(click this picture)

capitol hill art deco, denver

denver, photos — March 5, 2009

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Once again, I headed down to Capitol Hill in search of Art Deco.
Clicking on the pictures will enlarge them to better see details.

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I don’t know when the The Washington was built, the angled brick in the windowsills should indicate post-war construction, but the entranceway seems right out of the late-1930s.

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The Dorset House, built 1938, has great horizontal Streamline Modern elements contrasting with the vertical entranceway.

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This radial corner entranceway is made of black marble and polished stainless steel.

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I park my car and then hustle around The Hill on a longboard skateboard,
so if you see a foolish looking older guy trying not to break his neck
navigating cobblestone sidewalks, while trying to take photos, that’s me!

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Here are some examples with similar stacked-brick entranceways.

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The Cheesman Arms is listed on apartment websites as dating
from 1930, but that seems 15 years too early, maybe I’m wrong.

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From this angle, you can see the rounded brick on the vertical columns.

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Corona Manor

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The Pearl Place Apartments has the classic three row accents,
expressed here in dark reddish-brown brick, typical of Streamline
Modern
.

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The same apartment listing website has Pearl Place Apartments listed as built in 1950, and that is probably 10-12 years too late for this building, in my opinion.

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Classic asymmetrical Art Deco entranceway

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The Parkaire

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Similar use of red-brick horizontal banding and the three row accents of the Pearl Place Apartments, but with corner windows and a much more dramatic black marble entranceway with white stripes.

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I would guess a late-1930s construction date. I notice the air conditioning units are located thoughtfully in the horizontal banding design!

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The Galaxy. I am uncertain on the antiquity of this building
(I like the sign)

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Unusual use of tile, also a nice asymetrical window design above the doorway.

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An interesting vertical entranceway to a 50s-era apartment building
to finish this off this page. . .

art deco on capitol hill in denver

denver, photos — February 11, 2009

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I took advantage of the sun of Saturday morning to head to Capitol
Hill
in Denver in search of Art Deco. The Hill and surrounding areas
have many apartment buildings displaying mixtures of Art Deco,
Streamline Moderne and International Styles.

This beautifully landscaped entry way is from The Harwood, a building
actually further west in the area near the University of Colorado Hospital.

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First I headed over to the famous Poet’s Row, a historic district with eleven uniquely styled, 3-story apartment buildings. This outstanding structure is the Mark Twain apartment building. It was built in 1938 by Denver architect Charles Strong.

Charles Strong worked for Harry Edbrooke between 1923 and 1926, before starting his own practice in 1927. He designed many buildings throughout Denver and other cities, and his style progressed from Art Deco and Art Moderne through the International style to the 1957 glass and aluminum, Mesian-style Denver Petroleum Building downtown, which has been significantly altered recently in a less than sympathetic manner.

I plan on doing more research into the many important designs of Charles Strong, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that he did the 1949 Aurora Fox Theater and the 1950 Mayfair Shopping Center on 13th!

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The Mark Twain is one of two buildings on Poet’s Row to feature Streamline Moderne rounded corners. Here you can see that one bay of the building projects slightly further than the other, with the windows of this second bay recessing slightly for emphasis.

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Poet’s Row

Poet’s Row on Sherman Street, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. The Capitol is just a short walk down the street.

These modern urban apartment buildings were built between 1929 and 1956, and most were by Charles Strong. They are the first buildings ever constructed on the site, before that, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show once camped on the land in 1898!

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The Mark Twain building features this unique off-center entryway
with alternating yellow and dark brick rounded panels. In this closeup,
you can appreciate the Art Deco lettering. Centered above the
entranceway is a stepped brick spire.

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The Sherman Arms, constructed 1950, most likely a Charles Strong design.
It is interesting that even as late as 1950, the designs still make extensive use of vertical glass brick.

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The angled brick windowsills of the Sherman Arms are typical of post-World War II construction. (if you click any of the photos on my site, you can see larger versions)

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The Nathaniel Hawthorne designed 1938 by Charles Strong.

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The Nathanial Hawthorne is the other Poet’s Row apartment building
using Moderne rounded corners.

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The Art Deco entranceway of the Nathanial Hawthorne gives the
impression of a movie theater marquee.

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This is the Eugene Field apartment building, designed 1939 by
Charles Strong.

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The glass brick entranceway of the Eugene Field building is connected
to the roof with a stepped black spire.

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The Eugene Field does not feature rounded corners and seems to be progressing toward the International style, as does the apartment building below.

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The Panama Apartments, designed by Charles Strong, 1942. While the design is still sympathetic to the other Strong designs on the street, the simplification seems to lean toward the International style of architecture.

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Poet’s Row and glass brick seem to go hand in hand. . .

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As you head down Sherman Street from Poet’s Row to the Capitol, you come upon this grand example of Streamline Modern, the Colorado State Capitol Annex Building from 1939.

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This building was a collaborative design by the Associated Architects for the State Capitol Annex, presided over by renowned Denver architect George Meredith Musick.

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Then I headed over to Colorado Boulevard, in the neighborhood of the University of Denver Hospital where there are many interesting apartment buildings. I don’t know the name of this International style apartment building at 1100 Colorado.

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I like the clean horizontal lines and the mixture of blonde and slightly pink brick (or is it tile?). The buildings corners are rounded, as are the recesses for the windows.

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The entranceway features Moderne rounded corners and Art Deco
glass brick. I would assume this building is from the 1940s.

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This entraceway to the South Hall on Colorado Blvd. features
vertical Art Deco glass brick, and nice black iron lettering.

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Once again, the angled brick windowsills date this building to post-World War II.

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And finally The Capri apartments on Colorado Boulevard. A beautiful post-World War II building that still features Art Deco elements.

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Well, I ran out of sunshine by the afternoon, and so had to conclude my
Denver Art Deco search for the time being!

colorado education association building

denver, photos — January 24, 2009

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This incredible modern office building was designed in 1964 by William Muchow Associates Architects. This was originally a bank, the Silverstate Savings and Loan.

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William Muchow is one of Denver’s most important historical architects. His firm designed 833 buildings from 1950 to 1991!

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His firm designed one of Denver’s better examples of the International style architecture, the Texaco Building at 1570 Grant, which is just north of this location.

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One of my favorite buildings his firm constructed is the Engineering Sciences Center located on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder. I plan on posting pictures of this fantastic building real soon!

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Thanks for visiting! I have been a little slack lately as I have been working on other things and trying to organize a bit. I plan on posting much more frequently in the next month, so check back often!

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