Beijing-headquartered global architecture firm MAD Architects and the principal development team of The Max Collaborative, Uplands Real Estate Partners, and Wynne Yasmer Real Estate have broken ground on One River North, a 16-story residential tower in Denver’s River North Art District (RiNo). Known for its street art and dense concentration of galleries, brewpubs, and trendy eateries, the formerly industrial enclave was heralded by GQ as “America’s most improbably cool neighborhood” in 2018.
Located at 3930 Blake Street opposite the 38th and Blake RTD light rail station, One River North marks MAD’s third completed or under-construction project in the United States and its first outside of the Los Angeles area. The firm’s first, Gardenhouse in Beverly Hills, was completed in the summer of 2020 while the swooping , spaceship-like Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, originally planned for Chicago and now located at L.A.’s Exposition Park, topped out earlier this year and is slated to open in 2023 following COVID-prompted delays. Another MAD-designed project, a 22-story biomorphic Hollywood office tower dubbed the Star, was unveiled in September and is currently seeking city approval.
One River North, which will include 187 for-lease residences, is slated for completion during the latter half of 2023.
One River North takes the form of a largely straightforward rectangular glazed volume topping a base that will include nearly 8,000 square feet of dedicated retail space. However, in true rubberneck-inducing MAD fashion, a massive gash is carved into the tower’s fissured facade that cascades from the roof down through its midsection. Described as a “landscaped rift,” the chasm spans a total of 10 stories and “recalls the experience of ascending from the foothills to the trail and canyon, to reaching the alpine plateau,” per a press release from MAD. This playful referencing of alpine topography, in this instance the Rocky Mountains, isn’t new for MAD as One River North complements the far more low-slung design of Gardenhouse, which was designed to resemble a lush and rather mystical mountaintop villa.
Upon the reveal of its design, the Denver Post declared the forthcoming development has the potential to become the city’s “next architectural icon.”
But back to the crazy crevasse. The lower, horizontal half of the cleft will include a sloping, “landscaped, trail-like walkway” complete with “rippling water components” that extends four stories (the sixth through ninth floors) within the chasm-within-a-tower. Above that is a non-accessible vertical slot canyon stretching across the upper floors up to the tower’s roof. The roof itself is set to feature a 6,813-square-foot terrace, complete with a pool, spa, and expansive gardens, that will provide One River North residents with an additional space to revel in the great outdoors without actually leaving the property. (When they do, Denver famously offers no shortage of rugged outdoor recreation opportunities.) One River North will offer a total of 13,352 square feet of what the developers have called “open-air amenity environments” including the rooftop terrace and greenery-laced, scalable-in-parts ravine.
“If we regard modern cities as man-made landscape on the earth, we need to design canyons, woods, creeks, and waterfalls, transforming concrete forests into second nature,” said Ma Yansong, founder and principal partner of MAD, in a statement.
“The nature-inspired design by MAD Architects was influenced by Colorado’s legendary landforms and merges nature and architecture to inspire a well-balanced life. Its glass facade is likewise ribbed with louvers that regulate sunlight and soften its visual presence, shaping a serene retreat in the sky,” added Kevin Ratner, co-founder of The Max Collaborative.
If Ratner’s name is a familiar one, it’s because both The Max Collaborative and Uplands Real Estate Partners were established by members of the Ratner family following the acquisition of the Cleveland-headquartered Forest City Enterprises, Inc. by Brookfield Asset Management in 2018 for $11.4 billion. Prior to founding The Max Collaborative, Kevin Ratner ran Forest City Realty Trust’s L.A. office. Forest City (now Brookfield Properties) is also behind the dramatic reimagining of Denver’s old Stapleton International Airport site, shuttered in 1995, into the new Central Park neighborhood.
Joining The Max Collaborative, Uplands Real Estate Partners, and Wynne Yasmer Real Estate on the larger development team is Zakhem Real Estate Group. Denver-based Davis Partnership Architects joins MAD on the project design team while Saunders Construction is serving as general contractor.
With non-outdoorsy features set to include a lounge with workspaces, a pet spa, and a three-level subterranean parking garage, One River North will offer a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom luxury rental units ranging from 625-square-feet to 2,500-square-feet. All residences will boast floor-to-ceiling windows and private open-air terraces to better take in Rocky Mountain views.