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Republic Plaza

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1984, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. 17th to 18th sts. between Court Pl. and Tremont Pl.

During Denver's flush times, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill opened a Denver office (1977–1988) to design and oversee local and regional projects. The firm offered the client the greatest square footage for cost in a comprehensive package that emphasized quality of materials and design, based on an aesthetic rooted in the International Style. For Republic Plaza, SOM used a monolithic grid of flush-mounted windows and polished Sardinian granite trimmed in narrow bands of aluminum. It is Denver's tallest building, soaring fifty-six stories above the streetscape of open terraces with minimal plantings. Pedestrians in the shadow beneath this monster can at least use its blank facade as a big-screen weather report, reflecting the sun, sky, and clouds it obscures.

Plans to develop the entire block were squelched by bartenders Kenny and Frank Lombardi, who refused $3.5 million for their Duffy's Shamrock Tavern (c. 1906), 1635 Tremont Place, a three-story Beaux-Arts box. This popular bar and restaurant, with a front bar almost 72 feet long, has been open for decades seven days a week from 7:00 a.m to 2:00 a.m. It offers a historic, human-scale escape from surrounding office towers.

Writing Credits

Thomas J. Noel

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