With historic projects such as Denver Union Station or the Hotel Monaco, putting the building into context can be as simple as designing spaces to tell the story of the building. With new buildings, it’s critical they fit the surrounding neighborhood with a contemporary design. “We’re not going to go into a place and replicate the buildings there,” said James G. Johnson, founding principal of the 20-year-old firm. “We’re going to complement them in a more modern expression. Our signature would be whether the building fits in with its surroundings and whether it evokes an emotional response.”
From his office in lower downtown, Johnson can see the progress of his latest project, Denver Union Station. JG Johnson Architects has teamed up with Tryba Architects to transform the old train station into a 112-room, four-star boutique hotel featuring a different design for nearly every room. Drawing from the history of the station, the team will create a “Pullman railroad car” guestroom level on the second floor; respect the high ceilings and moldings on the third floor; and add a fourth floor reusing brick and wood in the loft guest rooms. “It will have a luxurious, gritty loft feel,” Johnson said. “We’re going to add elements of luxury and a colorful punch.”
Johnson and Tryba are members of Union Station Alliance, the team selected to develop the hotel. In addition to Tryba and JG Johnson Architects, the team includes preservationist Dana Crawford, Larimer Associates and Sage Hospitality, which will manage the property. Union Station Alliance chose the architecture team because both firm’s principals bring complementary skills to the table, said Walter Isenberg, Sage’s president and chief executive. While Tryba Architects has varied experience, much of the firm’s work is focused on public projects such as the Colorado History Museum and Denver Botanic Gardens. Johnson’s expertise is in hospitality, clubhouses and urban infill mixed-use projects. “They both have very strong capabilities in historic work,” Isenberg said.
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