biophilic facade of studio gang's 'populus' will mimic aspen trees in denver

biophilic facade of studio gang's 'populus' will mimic aspen trees in denver

populus: a ‘tree’ is growing in denver


Studio Gang partners with real estate firm Urban Villages in the design of Populus, a new and iconic landmark in Denver. The hotel will introduce a vibrant new social center in downtown Denver, opening itself up to both the city and to the Rocky Mountains beyond. Its location along a prominent corner site informs the triangular, wedge-like volume which greets the neighborhood equally on all three sides. Populus will welcome both visitors to Colorado, connecting the city’s civic, arts, and commercial districts.

studio gang populus
visualization © Studio Gang



the biophilic facade by studio gang


Designed by Studio Gang with Urban Villages, Denver’s newest landmark Populus will be wrapped in a sculptural facade. The building will host a 265-room hotel, a public rooftop bar and viewing deck, event spaces, and an activated ground-level lobby framed by windows which rise up to a height of thirty feet. The textural and rhythmic facade is informed by the building’s function. Each vertical scallop spans the width of a hotel room, while its windows change in size in response to public and private spaces. 


The unique facade expresses the patterning found on Colorado’s aspen trees. As these trees grow, they shed their lower branches, leaving behind dark, eye-shaped marks on the papery bark of their trunks. The windows are further detailed to perform efficiently in the Denver climate. On the exterior, the ‘lids’ of each window stretch outward according to solar orientation to shade the interior, improving the building’s energy performance. They also neatly channel rainwater to keep the facade looking fresh over time.

studio gang populus
a rooftop ‘canopy’ will include a restaurant, outdoor bar, and garden terrace | visualization © Studio Gang



a lobby to evoke a forest floor


As Studio Gang’s Populus continues to progress in Denver, Images have been unveiled of the nature-inspired interiors by Wildman Chalmers Design in partnership with Fowler + Fowler Architecture. These spaces are curated to evoke an Aspen grove and complement the biophilic architecture by Studio Gang. Upon entering the building, a moody ground floor lobby and restaurant will evoke the atmosphere of a forest floor. The double-height space will be illuminated through Aspen-eye windows up to thirty feet high. Here will be displayed a tapestry made from Reishi — a leather-alternative made from mushrooms — which will add to the forest-inspired atmosphere with its texture and earthy aroma. A brown-stained concrete floor will resemble scattered pebbles, while a wood-shingled wall will be crafted from repurposed beetle kill trees, a major problem affecting the forests of Colorado.

biophilic facade of studio gang's 'populus' will mimic aspen trees in denvera double-height lobby will open out to the street through thirty-foot windows | visualization © Studio Gang



This natural inspiration will be furthered with elevator recordings of Colorado bird songs that vary according to season and time of day. These local bird songs were recorded in the scenic Rocky Mountain National Park by Jacob Job, a Colorado-based conservationist and natural sound recording artist. Meanwhile, the guest rooms and suites above symbolize the ascending branches. The rooftop restaurant, bar, and hospitality suites are filled with color and natural light, mimicking the lush canopy of a tree.

biophilic facade of studio gang's 'populus' will mimic aspen trees in denverthe mixed-use building takes inspiration from aspen trees | visualization © Studio Gang



the country’s first carbon-positive hotel


As the first carbon positive hotel in the United States, the embodied and operational carbon footprint of Studio Gang’s Populus is being offset through forest and agricultural collaborations outside Denver. These initiatives will sequester more carbon than the building emits throughout its lifecycle — having a net positive impact on climate change and leaving the planet in a better place. Already, over 70,000 trees were planted in Gunnison County, Colorado in partnership with One Tree Planted vis-a-vis the United States Forest Service.

studio gang populuswindows will mimic the ‘eyes’ of aspen tree bark | visualization © Studio Gang


the entrance lobby interiors will mimic a forest floor | visualization © Nephew

biophilic facade of studio gang's 'populus' will mimic aspen trees in denverguest rooms and suites are light and sunlit, symbolizing ascending branches | visualization © Nephew

suites will view the Denver skyline and mountains beyond | visualization © Nephew




project info:


project title: Populus | @populus_denver

location: Denver, Colorado

architecture: Studio Gang Architecture | @studiogang

client: Urban Villages | @urban.villages

operator: Aparium | @aparium

interiors: Wildman Chalmers Design | @wildmanchalmersdesign

program: mixed-use

structural engineer: Studio NYL

interior design: Design Agency

civil engineer: Kimley-Horn

MEP/FP and sustainability consultant: WSP

acoustic engineer: Arup

lighting consultant: LS Group

vertical transportation consultant: Lerch Bates

code consultant: Advanced Consulting Engineers 

visualizations: © Studio Gang, Nephew |

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