Denver, the mile-high city, is called so because of its elevation from sea-level – 5280 feet or exactly one mile. It is a city at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains that had a horizontal growth pattern. It changed track in the early 1900s to a vertical one with higher density, to cater for the increasing economic demands of a rising population. According to Wikipedia, the romance with high-rises began with the ‘Equitable Building’ in 1892 and has never looked back since… We feature the high-rise trend of Denver, by showcasing its top 15 tall buildings, choosing the most prominent from the entire array. Our basis of choice is based not just on height, but considers the year of construction and use of the building as well.

1. Daniels & Fisher Tower

We begin our story with the first skyscraper of the city, Daniels & Fisher Tower. An office building with 20 floors, height of spire is 113.4m, roof 99.1m. The tower was completed in 1910. It is an iconic landmark of the city that was built in 1910 and was visible from miles away. Designed by the architect, Frederick G. Sterner, it was based on St. Mark’s Campanile, Venice.

Interior view of the clock…

By the 1990s the building was in bad shape and underwent a restoration that was completed in 2006.  The firm responsible for the external restoration was Tryba Architects. A picture of the restored building, from their portfolio:

Quoting from,

“Today the tower continues to house mostly office condominiums as well as an events venue on the upper floors and a cabaret in the basement. …. Standing near the center of the Sixteenth Street Mall, the tower remains a beloved Denver landmark.”

2. AT&T building

AT&T building: an office building with 24 floors, height of 95.1m. Built in 1929, in the art deco style, the AT&T building in Denver has a stepped-back massing. Terracotta tiles and granite from the Colorado area were used as cladding materials for it. In fact, mostly local materials have been used for its construction, including the steel.

Designed by William N. Bowman Company, “the lobby features walls of Colorado travertine, wrought iron work of local origin, a coffered ceiling, and murals depicting the history of communications”-

Image Source

3. 621, 17th street

621, 17th street  is an office building with 28 floors and a height of 127m. It was completed in 1957 and formerly known as ‘First Interstate Tower South. Designed by the firm Raymond Harry Ervin & Associates, it was built in the modern style and was the tallest building in Denver at the time of its completion. Today it is the office of EQ real estate.

4. Brooks Tower

Brooks Tower is a residential building with 42 floors and a height of 128m. It was the first high-rise residential building built in Denver in 1968. As usual, it was the tallest building at the time it was built. It was designed by architect Max Ratner. Being in downtown, Denver, today the residences which are now condominiums, offer a very convenient place to be.

5. 555, 17th street

555, 17th street, an office building with 40 floors and a height of 155m, was formerly known as the Anaconda Tower and the Qwest Tower. The building was completed in 1978. It is a piece of modern architecture, designed by the firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

6. Larimer Place

Larimer Place, another residential skyscraper with 32 floors and a height of 102m was built in 1981. It was designed by Lombardi & Associates in the modern style. The Facade material is brick.

7. MCI Plaza

MCI Plaza is a mixed-use building with 42 floors and a height of 159m. built in 1981, it was designed by architect, Metz, Train & Youngren. The building has two main spaces:
– Office: broader upper 22 floors, a significant amount of which are leased to anchor tenant MCI.- Hotel: narrower lower 20 floors is the Denver Marriott City Center, which has 613 guest rooms and suites.

Sporting a unqiue design in which the tower bulges at the top and becomes wider from the 15th floor up, gives it the concept of ‘setfront’ design (because that is the complete opposite of the classic setback).

8. 1801, California

1801, California is an office building with 53 floors and 225m height. Designed by architect: Metz, Train & Youngren. Upon its completion in 1983, the building was the tallest building in Denver, till it was surpassed by Republic Plaza in 1984. The building has a brown concrete façade with a four stepped design. It is an example of post-modern high-rise design. The shape of the building resembles two interlocked octagons, which separate near the building’s roof. The roof houses an antenna mast, with which it still surpasses Republic Plaza. The façade is brown precast concrete and curtain walling.

9. Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo is an office building, 52 floors and 215m high, was completed in 1983. The tower is known for its distinctive double-curved crown. It is known colloquially as the Cash Register Building as its uppermost floors curve, resembling the shape of an antique cash register. It has a red granite and glass façade. Architect: Philip Johnson.

10. Republic Plaza

Republic Plaza an office building with 56 floors and a height of 217.6m This is the tallest building in Denver. Architecture firm: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
It has polished Sardinian granite on the facade and its windows are flush-mounted with narrow bands of aluminium grid. Most of the building floors are used as office space, and three retail levels have shops, restaurants, and service businesses.

11. Hyatt Regency

Hyatt Regency is a hotel with 38 floors and 149m height. It was completed in 2005, designed by Brennan Beer Gorman / Architects, in the Style postmodern.

The 1,100-room hotel was the first high-rise to have been built in downtown Denver in 20 years when it opened in December 2005. The exterior of the 66-foot tower base consists of limestone, granite and zinc cladding; the four-story entrance is glass-enclosed.

CannonDesign, formerly gkkworks, provided design architecture as architect of record, in association with BBG Architects, who served as convention hotel specialists. Interior design was completed by Wilson & Associates.


12. Glass House

Glass House a residential building with 23floors and a height of 81.7m. Completed in 2007, Designed by Architects: The Preston Partnership. The facade materials are brick and glass curtain wall. The architectural style is modern

13. Spire

Spire is a residential building with 41 floors and 145.7m height. Completed in 2009. Designed by Denver-based RNL Design. The building has an eight-story parking podium and ground-floor retail.  Style: post modern. Façade: glass, limestone, steel and concrete.

14. Four Seasons Hotel :

A mixed use building with 45 floors, 195.1m spire height and 172.2m roof. It was finished in 2010.
Architects: Carney Logan Burke Architects and HKS Architects.

The lower 24 floors house the Four Season Hotel, while the upper 21 floors have residential suites. As of 2010 it is the tallest mixed used tower in Denver.

Façade: concrete, curtain wall, light brown.
Style: post modern.

As per the architects: “In keeping with Denver’s spirit of urban renaissance, the tower design synthesizes elements of both the past and the present. In both program and execution, the building asserts a contemporary presence: interior appointments reflect refined urban sensibilities and a post-tensioned cast-in-place concrete structure expresses today’s construction methods. To integrate the new building within the historic center of downtown Denver, aesthetic inspiration derives from nostalgic urban skyscraper precedents, the form eroding symmetrically as it ascends. Verticality is emphasized through the juxtaposition of curtain-wall glass and pre-cast concrete piers: the piers articulate the length of the building, and the glass form emerges from the pre-cast skin, elongating the building at the upper floors and resolving in a distinctive 75-foot-tall communications spire. Dark-bronze anodized window mullions and metal spandrels further heighten the vertical effect of the tower, drawing the eye upward.”


15. 1144 15th street

An office building with 40 floors, 183.8m height, was built in 2017. In the design of 1144 Fifteenth street, the internationally acclaimed architects Pickard Chilton, showcase the spirit of Denver into a combination of steel and art. Floor-to-ceiling windows reflect the beauty of the mountains and cityscape. Ample light flows into the efficient workspaces.

Façade: curtain wall. Style: modern

“As you gaze up at 1144 Fifteenth, it’s readily obvious that this is not production architecture. The faceted taper of the tower, the cleave right down the middle, the aluminum fins, precise beveled edges in the soffits – they all speak to a design team at the top of its game.”

Source: 1,2 3 www. 4.

There are more buildings that keep coming up and we’ll come to them as and when they do…

For interesting graphics and information on the chronology and more, refer to these links:


Architectural Journalist

Rethinking The Future

An architect by training, who has practised for over 20 years. Her chosen path now is of a researcher, writer and creativity coach. She believes that it is now the era of compassion - for humans to do away with attitudes of segregation and to heal all that we have ravaged!

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& Design Awards 2020

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Early Bird Discount Ends on
30th April 2020

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