The team, including architects Alan Brown AIA, Will Bruder AIA, Harry Teague AIA, and David Baker FAIA.
"There is this Ayn Rand 'Fountainhead' thing in the architectural world—but everything we do is really about collaboration. It's merely a matter of how much you suppress your collaborators." —David Baker
In the arena of project development, creativity and daring are often the exception to the rule. But Denver has always been at the cusp of the frontier—a city where visionary leaders honor the tension between Western tradition and daring innovation. Out of this unique milieu comes yet another edgy urban project envisioned by one of Denver's renaissance men.
Mickey Zeppelin, founder of Denver-based Zeppelin Development Inc., is the developer leading a diverse and talented team in creating a new phase of TAXI, a cutting-edge mixed-use development on the city's industrial north side.
The many phases of TAXI
In 2000, motivated by a desire to create a "catalyst for change," Zeppelin purchased the former Yellow Cab taxi garages located on the west bank of the South Platte River at 34th and Ringsby Court. He named the abandoned space TAXI and renovated it to house a diverse collection of businesses. The TAXI building remains 100% leased, employing about 100 people, with a mix of tenants that includes small incubator start-ups to medium-sized marketing firms, studios and boutique offices.
The renovated space retains much of its original, industrial-chic character with high-bay doors, sprawling corridors and multiple access points.
Now, Zeppelin wants to take TAXI a step further by creating an initial 134,000-sq-ft addition to house 29 top-floor residences above two floors of business and commercial space. He envisions extensive art and public spaces, including cafes, wine bars and courtyards. Future phases could substantially increase the residential totals to as many as 250 units, an ambitious plan for a mostly undiscovered industrial area 10 minutes from downtown.
"I saw a rare opportunity to do something that would set a new pace for what could happen in Denver—to be at the heart of a new kind of community," Zeppelin said. "I envisioned a place that exudes pleasure, stimulation and pride; a community where people are living, working and playing together creatively with a sense of freedom and excitement. I wanted people to feel special, in a special place."
Zeppelin was so drawn to the eclectic TAXI space that he moved his own offices there in July 2001, even though the building's zany motor-pool aesthetics and post-industrial landscape might be considered too far out of the mainstream for most developers.
But Zeppelin is not like most other developers. Known for turning lofty musings into meticulous site plans and inspired urban spaces, he has invested a lifetime of heart—and a great deal of his own hard-earned capital—into creating a better city.
Since emerging in the mid-'80s as a vocal leader during the redevelopment heyday of Denver's LoDo, Zeppelin has proven his ability to energize other people's talents around his dynamic vision. At TAXI, that vision includes a risky development process that redefines architectural collaboration.
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