Northern Colorado Architecture
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alm2s Northern Colorado Architects

Portfolio: Commercial

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The Exchange

Private Client

Fort Collins, Colorado

The Exchange is a new urban infill redevelopment project consisting of the renovation of existing buildings on the north and south end of the 200 Block in downtown Fort Collins, enclosing an existing parking lot to create a large urban plaza with central lawn.  The design of the buildings is a carefully selected blend of building forms and materials that are both reflective of the building's past and future.  A design element unique to Fort Collins is the use of shipping containers to house a variety of smaller bar, restaurant and food service uses.

Both the north and south ends of the site are highly visible and unique, with their triangular shapes at the intersection between the north/south grid block pattern of development to the west and the juxtaposition of the Old Town area with its rotated grid structure. These block ends provide a new sense of entry and gateway into the downtown from the north, as well as into the development from the Old Town Historic District. 

The design concept is to bookend the north and south ends of the project with new identifying and iconic elements, both signifying the extent of the project and integrating the balance of the existing buildings.  These new forms are simple but striking modern glazed forms, and both work in conjunction to define the corners while providing a transition to the existing building.  The north end of the north building features a 2-story element constructed within the existing footprint of the building.  The west facade of the this building proposes an alternative new skin and fenestration that complements the existing facades, but creates a series of new architectural types defined by material, glazing patterns and texture, in order to continue the eclectic growth pattern of a series of buildings that have been constructed over time.  The proposed design reinforces this notion, but creates a new rhythm at the same time.
The infill facades are a mix of styles and forms, including minimalist stucco facades with retail-scaled storefront and more traditional brick veneer storefronts with simplified cornice treatments, storefront patterns and awnings, more modern horizontally-oriented massing and architectural panels that return down to the ground. Modern glazing treatments and solid 2-story vertical elements contrasted with glazing complete the design.  The latter of these elements have been used throughout the project to create a series of entry elements, sense of hierarchy and help to break up what are currently horizontally dominated buildings. 

The existing building facades substantially remain along Jefferson Street and the alley of the north building, but with the addition of new glazing, storefronts and canopies to help activate these areas.

At the south end of the south building, a new addition is proposed intended to be programmed for a restaurant user, with glazing and operable window walls or glass overhead doors facing the south ground level plaza space, as well as providing a rooftop terrace for additional outdoor seating.  The terrace is designed with its support spaces oriented along the west side fronting College Avenue to mitigate traffic noise and capture views to the south and southeast into Old Town.  The north side of the south building is intended to remain mostly as is, with the exception of a new entry along the north side to provide access to restroom facilities.

Professional services included land use and design approvals through the City of Fort Collins, and full architectural and engineering design services.