Republic Plaza – Lobby Repositioning

Denver, CO

Republic Plaza, Downtown Denver’s tallest high-rise building, underwent renovations to the main lobby, lower-level concourse, and exterior plaza that leads to the 16th Street Pedestrian Mall. This repositioning and capital improvement project modernized the 1984 Denver icon. The new exterior boasts an updated patio, planters, bleacher seating, and sunshade structure. The lobby hosts a custom contemporary 30-foot-long LED chandelier over the main escalators along with a one-of-a-kind 3D Terracotta mold on each side of the elevator core. Additionally, all elevator cores, covered in their original green marble, were demolished and reclad to be more than 25-feet tall.

All lobby construction was done in an occupied facility, so Weitz maintained full access for all tenants, including to the elevator cores, with each bank serving a different 10-levels of the 56 story high-rise.


Building the WeitzWay

Our team members carry themselves as ambassadors for the company, meaning we not only lead with safety and act based on what is right, but we treat everyone with the same level of respect from the building cleaning staff to the Building Owners. All team members were on a first-name basis with staff and security.

We conducted daily walks with the Building Manager and Building Engineer providing updates, addressing minor safety concerns, and discussing any of their concerns. This constant communication was crucial in all areas of construction but especially in occupied spaces such as the Republic lobbies, where it was always a challenge to maintain public safety due to the occupied facility.

As all lobby construction was completed in an occupied facility, we maintained full access for all tenants, including access to the elevator cores. We completed the work at night and during the day. Our crew was diligent about ensuring safe spaces for the occupied building. The space was cleaned and the lobbies were reopened to the public each day. The only evidence that work was completed was the progress shown.

We were also challenged with implementing COVID-19 compliance at the start of the project which we were not expecting. We didn’t fully understand how COVID-19 was going to impact the project. We were able to complete the project with minimal to no impact on the project schedule and budget. We were happy to report there were few COVID-19 cases considering we worked two different shifts with two different crews.

Weitz orchestrated the installation of a state-of-the-art, custom 30-foot, LED light fixture that has programing capabilities that are literally infinite. It can produce any color on the spectrum. The owner can program this LED light fixture to produce welcoming messages, logos, and flags. The light system can highlight holidays such as Breast Cancer Awareness month, and simulate scenic views such as a thunderstorm. The light fixture was designed by Light Art and installed by Tower Electric. This will boast morale within the space and highlight events throughout the community.

The terracotta wall tiling track system is completely custom and unique to Republic Plaza. The tiles were specifically designed for this space and will not be installed anywhere else. The owner has a patent on the tiles that were custom-made just for Republic Plaza so the color, shape, and configuration of the tiles are not displayed anywhere else in the world.

This project benefits the client as it completely modernized the lobby. The lobby is more inviting and open giving a vibrant and active space that will attract new tenants to the building. The construction industry benefited by implementing new construction materials (customized terracotta wall system) that have never been installed in the Denver Metro Area until now. The level of detail and multiple materials being implemented together made this a unique and challenging project both for the design team and Weitz.

Weitz went above and beyond to create the one-of-a-kind Terracotta system. In conjunction with the architect, and Boston Valley we were able to achieve the following:

  • BIM 3D modeling to result in the appropriate visioning concept and the geometry
  • Through a Zoom meeting, not only did the team digitally designing the tile—but at the same time—they had a sculptor in their shop physically shaving pieces of clay off per the architect’s request to sculpt the unique tile
  • Perfecting the color and glaze of the tile to the satisfaction of the designer as this process took four different samples to achieve the color the designers’ requested.

The Project Manager, Superintendent, and Brekus ownership group (installing subcontractor) flew to upstate New York and did installation training with the Boston Valley team. Because it was a custom track system and custom terracotta pieces, we worked with them to come up with an installation procedure. This way, once the pieces arrive onsite, we were able to be as efficient and provide as much quality as possible.

The ownership of Republic Plaza undertook this important project in order to bring new life and interest to the iconic stone and glass skyscraper recognized as Denver’s tallest building. Historically many of the buildings tenant’s represented finance, oil and gas and legal firms, however in the changing landscape of Denver’s economy, new interest has developed from tech startups, health and wellness, and other emerging industries.

Incorporating a completely reimagined lobby and exterior plaza, the project design strives to appeal to this broader diversity of clients by providing hospitality-class seating areas, artistic wall treatments, and a sophisticated balance of both natural and industrial finishes. A super-scale custom light fixture and full height metal mesh screens respond to the lobby’s grand scale yet create a sense of intimacy within an otherwise wide open space.

Alongside all of these significant changes, the most unique elements are the custom sculpted, full height end walls of the lobby’s core. Composed of over 800 three-dimensional terracotta forms that repeat in a dynamic pattern, the wall reacts to the changing lighting conditions throughout the day with exciting shadows and reflections from its highly glazed finish.

The project has exceeded the goals of ownership by providing an inviting, fresh face to the building that is attracting new tenant’s while adding new casual meeting spaces for all.