On one of Lower Downtown Denver’s last urban infill lots, the Thompson brings refined contemporary architecture to a storied location, with deep contextual influence rooted in history. Late 19th century context meets the strong lines of mid-century modern design and 21st century transparency and accessibility, bringing downtown Denver’s story into a new chapter of vitality and community.
In the 1860’s the Denver Tribune headquarters occupied this site, in many ways serving as the epicenter of the growing city’s breaking current events, popular culture, entertainment, and sports. Nearly 100 years later the building was demolished: the home of a city’s voice lost to a surface parking lot. In 2022, the new Thompson opened its doors to guests and residents as Denver’s newest living room to LoDo .
With the hotel rising 11 stories above the 16th Street Mall, special attention was paid to breaking down the height and architectural mass to address human scale along its urban edges. Studying the immediately abutting buildings, and the block as a whole, produced a series regulating lines and datums that informed the geometric framework, within which the hotel becomes a complementary infusion to the block’s existing patterns and details.
The podium and mid-levels specifically respond to neighboring historic buildings’ rhythm, proportion, and relief, with great focus on the perceived floorplate alignment and glazing articulation detailed across the composition of buildings that line the street. Deep-set windows and stepped brick detailing add to the weight of the architecture and orchestrate a play of shade and shadow throughout the day. Close, iterative collaboration with the Lower Downtown Design Review Board ensured that no detail was overlooked.
Above, guestroom levels hosting 220 luxury rooms step back from the street and property line below. This relief helps mitigate the scale of the new structure instituting a stronger relationship with the historic character of the lower height neighboring buildings.
In a nod to the original Denver Tribune building, the street corner is anchored by a steel tower feature that reestablishes an iconic presence on the highly trafficked 16th Street Mall — where over 40,000 people pass by daily on foot or via free shuttle buses. This “lighthouse” corner invites locals and visitors in to enjoy the street-level lounge, coffee bar, or highly anticipated French bistro, Chez Maggy.
The Thompson presents a straightforward, industrial modern material palette. Inspired by the black and white contrast of newsprint, an ivory brick façade contrasts with the blackened steel framing and window mullion details. The hand-crafted feel of masonry aligns with LoDo’s industrial roots. Inside, architectural features veer toward brutalism, with concrete columns adorned with rough-hewn wood and raw metal accents. This architectural interior palette provides a powerfully simple backdrop against more opulent and colorful interior design and gives the Thompson’s guests a true lifestyle destination in the heart of historic Lower Downtown.