Touted as the nation’s first carbon-positive hotel, Populus recently broke ground in downtown Denver. Scheduled to open in late 2023, Populus is a 13-story, 265-room hotel with a rooftop restaurant and bar, all designed by Studio Gang.
Developed by Urban Villages, the triangular-shaped, 130,000-square-foot building will be entirely carbon positive, from construction to operations. Populus will minimize its carbon footprint in the development stage by using low-carbon concrete mixes and high-recycled content materials, maximizing structural efficiency, using fewer finish materials, and minimizing waste. The team will consider the carbon footprint of the origin and creation of the materials as well as their transport. The hotel’s overall use (operational carbon) and every guest stay will be offset, in addition to the building’s embodied carbon.
The project also will involve an offsite ecological effort, including an initial commitment to plant trees that represent over 5,000 acres of forest, offsetting the equivalent of nearly 500,000 gallons of gas.
With design by Studio Gang, and with the Beck Group as the architect of record, Populus draws inspiration from the area’s iconic Aspen tree. Studio Gang designed the hotel, its first building in Colorado, with eye-shaped windows that echo the Aspen eyes. As part of the overall green vision, “lids” over each window extend slightly outward to shade the interior, improve energy performance, and channel rainwater.
Inside, the windows change in size to reflect the public or private aspect of various spaces—with windows up to 30 feet high at the building’s base. In the rooms, the windows not only provide immersive mountain and city views but also serve as seats or desks, further connecting occupants with the outdoors.
“Improving the resiliency of our cities has never been more urgent—and it includes reducing carbon emissions as well as strengthening community bonds,” Jeanne Gang, founder of Studio Gang, said in a statement. “We’ve designed Populus to be a new destination in downtown Denver that combines these environmental and social ambitions.”
On the Building Team:
Owner and/or developer: Urban Villages
Design architect: Studio Gang
Architect of record: The Beck Group
MEP engineer: Klok Group
Structural engineer: Studio NYL
General contractor/construction manager: Matt Archuletta