With high-tech renovations, these rustic Boulder and Denver buildings are attracting startups

March 10, 2014


As we push further into the 21st century, one thing seems to gain importance while getting harder to come by:  space.

A good office space can make or break your ability to get work done. And in a world where we’re always running out of it, startup companies find themselves at a loss where money’s always tight and options are running out.

Enter the adaptive reuse trend.

Architecture firms and real estate companies are taking it upon themselves to seek out older, oversized buildings and repurpose them into shared workspace for local startups. A great example of this is Shift Workspaces in Denver – an underused office building turned into a thriving, fresh work community. They’re not the only ones, though. John Lund Hotel in Boulder (concept created by architecture firm Arch11) and Studebaker Building in Denver (advertised by real estate company Broad Street Realty) were both recently reworked with tech startups in mind. Here’s how they’re helping the young companies thrive.

John Lund Hotel in Boulder

When repurposing an old building, the first concern is to make sure it meets fire code standards and offers a safe environment.

Arch11 took renovation a step further to ensure the building could handle the modern technology needs so important to tech startups. They also created a layout with grouped, open spaces encouraging collaboration while adding phone booths to offer short-term privacy. They wanted the space to be flexible and meet the changing needs of multiple companies, some of which currently include PivotDesk, BirdBox, and Victors and Spoils – all Boulder-based companies. They added fresh art and graffiti from artist Dalek to attract the younger crowd and breathe life back into the space.

While enhancing the space was a high priority, so was respecting the original buildings and culture already set in place by Colorado.

Arch11 did this by keeping the traditional western-style saloon storefront, something the town has been used to for over 50 years. And as E.J. Meade, architect and co-owner of Arch11, said, “Let the bones define the space.” The building also includes artifacts of the old hotel as a way to remind the local startups to stay true to themselves and embrace their space.


(John Lund Hotel in Boulder after the renovations.)

Studebaker Building in Denver

The Studebaker Building in Denver's LoDo neighborhood followed a similar approach to keeping tech startups in mind and respecting the embedded culture of Colorado as renovations went underway.

Funky walls with a hodgepodge of art and graffiti surround areas of open space just waiting for new tenants to personalize it to meet their needs. The brick and beams of the original building are exposed to keep the gritty, industrial feeling and bike storage was added as is common around Denver.

The space screams tech startups so much so even Google is coming to take a look in hopes of hosting a Hackathon night, according to Melissa Nochlin from Broad Street Realty.


The Studebaker Building in Denver ready to unveil its new look at an open house tonight.

An open house is being held Tuesday to preview the space now available in the Studebaker Building in Denver while Arch11 works on their next adaptive reuse project in Boulder that’s four times as large as the John Lund Hotel.

Respect for the buildings and surrounding neighborhoods make the renovations a welcome improvement to both cities. Between the work done on these and other successful spaces like Shift Workspaces, the trend of adaptive reuse is here to stay and tech companies should keep an eye out for more just as much as these projects have an eye on them.


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