Colorado Architecture Firm Arch11 Revives Dilapidated Downtown Boulder Buildings with Adaptive Reuse of Historic Hotel

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Denver/Boulder architects Arch11 have breathed new life into the historic 19th-century John Lund Hotel in Boulder, Colo. The award-winning Colorado architecture firm redesigned the structure and its 1950s-era neighbor as hip contemporary office, residential and retail spaces with rolling garage doors, graffiti art and more.

Arch11’s adaptive reuse of 1904 Pearl St., two blocks east of Boulder’s popular Pearl Street pedestrian mall, includes graffiti wall on west facade (photo courtesy of Arch11)

Arch11 removed layers of stucco and fake stone to discover original brickwork and openings on the historic hotel’s façade.

Colorado architects Arch11 recently completed the adaptive reuse of the John Lund Hotel building, built in the late 1800s, and its adjacent midcentury neighbor at 1904 Pearl St. in downtown Boulder, Colo. The award-winning architecture firm, with offices in Denver and Boulder, carefully peeled back previous insensitive alterations to the structures, restoring the romantic charm while transforming them to meet the workspace needs of several low and hi-tech companies, including Boulder creative ad agency, Victors and Spoils, and creating five new studio apartments.

After sitting empty for a number of years, the dilapidated buildings required extensive work to function as efficient, modern living and work spaces. Arch11’s skillful design reveals the historical beauty of both the hotel building, which once housed workers dispatched to work on the Continental Divide’s historic Moffat Tunnel, and its unassuming 1950s-era neighbor. The architects’ sensitive renewal knits the pair effortlessly back into Boulder’s urban fabric, making the project a model of urban sustainability and redevelopment.

Arch11’s proven ability to creatively repurpose buildings dovetailed with the vision of 1904 Pearl St. developer John Reynolds, a Boulder native who wanted the project “to celebrate Boulder’s entrepreneurial ethos and be empathetic to the community with a respectful nod to the past.”

While previous developers had unsuccessfully tried to demolish and redevelop the site, Reynolds valued the buildings’ scale and patina and felt it could provide ideal incubator space for Boulder’s creative workforce. He enlisted Arch11 to revitalize the conjoined buildings in a way that would “intentionally foster community both inside and out, and reflect the authenticity of the place.”

“We were tasked with renewing the building exteriors and creating raw, industrial entrepreneurial space on the interior,” says Arch11 Principal, E.J. Meade, who used historical photos of the buildings to inform design decisions. Arch11 removed layers of stucco and fake stone to discover original brickwork and openings on the historic hotel’s façade that provided the necessary clues.

Commissioning new steel elements from Reynolds’s brother, a Boulder metal worker, Arch11 reimagined the building façades with modern materials and new windows that closely approximated the size and scale of the original, yet introduced subtle updates that differentiated old from new. Reinforced structure, foundations and mechanical systems were threaded through the building’s delicate skeleton to handle twenty-first century building code requirements. To further enliven the buildings, rolling garage doors and windows were added at the rear to animate the alley frontage.

Within both structures, a warren of enclosed offices were cleared out and all systems updated to create a fresh canvas for tenants on the ground floor, while five studio apartments were carved out from six former hotel rooms on the building’s second floor.

To culminate the new “1904 Pearl St.” adaptive reuse project, developer Reynolds and Arch11 Principal E.J. Meade came up with the idea to hire a graffiti artist to emblazon a 120-ft. long, barren exterior wall on the building’s west facade. The team selected Dalek, an acclaimed graffiti artist, who was commissioned to imprint the building with a singular identity. Fittingly, Dalek engaged the community in the implementation of the piece.

Founded in 1993, Arch11 has gained recognition for projects ranging from exceptional residences to institutional planning, mixed-use development and product design. Recent awards include a 2013 Citation and Merit Award from AIA Denver and a 2013 Citation Award from AIA Colorado North, five 2012 Design Awards from AIA Colorado North and two from the Denver Chapter of AIA, and the 2009 Firm of the Year Award from the Colorado AIA. Arch11 Principal Ken Andrews also was named 2013 Mentor of the Year by the AIA Colorado North Chapter.

With offices in Boulder and Denver, Colo., Arch11 has 30 combined years of green building technology leadership. The staff’s unusual level of hands-on experience ranges from boat building to furniture making, contributing to its reputation for commitment to craft, detailing and design integrity. For additional information visit

Darla Worden, WordenGroup Strategic Public Relations, darla(at)wordenpr(dot)com, 307.734.5335; E.J. Meade, Arch11, ejmeade(at)arch11(dot)com, 303.546.6868

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Darla Worden
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