OZ Earns Headlines for Improper City Adaptive Reuse Project

At any given time within Improper City, the eclectic adaptive reuse project designed by Denver-based OZ Architecture, one might find a handful of tourists hanging out at the facility’s 35-tap bar, not far from where a crew of coworkers are busily tapping away at their laptops, while under the same roof, members of a knitting club convenes for their monthly meeting and residents from the neighborhood stream in, drawn by the aromas drifting from the adjacent outdoor food truck patio.

Improper City, located in a former HVAC warehouse in Denver’s booming post-industrial River North (RiNo) neighborhood, is garnering national attention for its innovative blend of workspace and leisure amenities, with coworking space, a bar, food truck park, café, community event space, spaces to accommodate live music, and even a climbing gym on the roof. The combination brings a much-needed open gathering space to RiNo, a part of Denver that, amid so much redevelopment, has been short on inviting places for people to congregate.

“It’s a pretty dense area that has been redeveloping, but there’s not a lot of spaces where people can gather,” Rebecca Stone, Principal in Charge at OZ, explains to Green Building & Design. “There weren’t a lot of park spaces where all these [industrial sites] were built. So just to have a place where people can go sit and have a coffee or hear music has been pretty wildly successful.”

The building itself is rich with character, with well-preserved concrete floors, exposed duct work and ceiling trusses, enhanced by a design that includes mixed natural and engineered materials, thoughtful allocation of space, some for quiet work and some for socializing, and a lighting design in which skylights introduce plenty of daylight to the building’s open, single-story floorplan. Rather than build up to squeeze the most out of the property, the one-story design reflects the sustainability focus of Improper City’s owners. “Most developers would have tried to build five stories and capture every inch they could,” Stone tells Green Building & Design. “I think that’s the most sustainable thing they did.”

To learn more about how Improper City is helping to transform RiNo into a thriving neighborhood for makers, entrepreneurs and residents, click here.