Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Post Office Terminal Annex and EPA Building

This photo, circe 1992, shows the massive Post Office Terminal Annex rising to the left, behind the bridge over 15th Street. The old Moffat Train station is on the far left (photo from Denver Public Library Western History Collection X-23640)

The EPA building is shown from the 16th and Wynkoop corner (photo courtesty of EPA).

It wasn't too long ago when one of the more convenient post offices downtown was located at 16th and Wynkoop. The old Post Office Terminal Annex disappeared however to make way for the EPA Region 8 Headquarters and the adjacent 1515 Wynkoop office building. The building's use as the main sorter facility for mail had been taken over by a larger facility at 56th and Quebec so the majority of the building was no longer in use. Visit DenverInfill.com to learn more about the transformation of this site.

Here I am in 2000 with the initial development of the Central Platte Valley in full swing. Standing atop the new hill created when Commons Park rose out of the former railroad yards, the Post Office is clearly visible. What a difference ten years makes! And there's more to come.

The new buildings on the Post Office site are particularly intriguing, especially the EPA.

Upon entering the building, your eye is drawn upward. Is the building without a roof? No, it's up there, just way WAY up there! And the light is so bright, the illusion is harder to dispel, but that comes from bright sails near the ceiling, sails that transmit the natural sunlight down into the atrium, further enhancing the thought that you are outside. In front of you are stairs ascending, some large, some small and the sound of water is nearby. Elevators glide smoothly on their paths and people may be seen through the numerous windows that are in the interoir of the building. A vertical column of light and connectivity forms the interior of the building, a secret hidden to those on the outside, gloriously revealed upon entering.

One of the building's more intriguing features is not as impressive in scope in many ways, but more so on consideration. The living roof, covered with plants, looks like a gardener's pallette, but it does so much more than simply provde space for plants. The breathing things planted around the crown of the building absorb heat, reducing the costs to cool the building, and calm the flow of water from our tempetuous rains. Even if the intricate dance of management and growth of the roof fails to move you, the view is spectacular!

This green roof can serve as an inspiration for continuing this trend across the roofs of Denver. This movement has been very successful already in Chicago. The EPA building's innovative environmental design can only have a postive effect on the future built environment of Denver as it influences the next generation.

The EPA has expanded its offerings to the public, to help folks get to know the building and see its remarkable designs first hand. Normally, a full tour of the building requires advanced reservations. However, the public may do a shortened version of the tour on their own and without such reservations.

To learn more about the green features of this building, self-guided tour possibilities, or to schedule a full tour, click here or call Patty Provencher at 303-312-6836.

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