Larimer Square, Denver, CO
Larimer Square
Larimer Square

Larimer Square is one of Denver’s most storied places. Saved from demolition by preservation pioneer Dana Crawford, then sold to a major retail developer, Civitas was engaged to turn the Square into a vibrant shopping and entertainment destination. The street had just been decommissioned as a state highway, opening up new possibilities for design.

The street is the most intact row of Victorian buildings in the city, with narrow proportions and handsome facades. Our challenges included making the street the most active ‘people place’ in the city while supporting major retail and restaurant uses, without harming the historic character.

We developed a palette of materials that draws on the past, creating widened sidewalks out of the same stone that once paved the street; moved the street to one side to give the sunny side of the street more room for cafes, and created two passages under buildings to link the street to rear courtyards and parking. Tall lighting fixtures are also banner poles that carry new decorations and lighting several times a year for the many festivals and events that use the entire street.

Larimer Square has become the metro area’s most loved and iconic place to shop, eat and play. On any day the streets are filled with window shoppers, people at cafes, or people just hanging out watching others. The redevelopment of the street and shops was the first catalyst and proof that the idea of renovating all of historic Lower Downtown could be a viable way to bring new life and living into a downtown that had been in decline.

Client: The Hahn Company
Collaborators: Semple Brown Design
Completed: 1989
Budget: $3 million, streetscape