Opening its doors in 1881, Denver Union Station at once became a beloved Denver icon. By the late 1980s, it was clear that Denver Union Station was in need of improvements. The concept of renovating the former train station into the Denver Union Station Great Hall, Restaurant and Retail Promenade, and the 122-room Crawford Hotel was born. The Great Hall and Promenade serve the local community, attracting day visitors to snack, dine, shop, or simply relax and play shuffleboard with friends. Additionally, the new Denver Union Station boasts four restaurants, lounges that serve anything from upscale cocktails to local microbrews, an ice creamery, and a collection of unique retail shops including Denver’s beloved Tattered Cover Bookstore.
Ultimately, the most innovative thought went into how to take sustainable, and reliable mechanical systems and blend their components into the overall ambiance of the space so that they would not be intrusive—either visually or audibly. Creative solutions were employed to minimize the impact of systems. For example, a raised floor was built in the center of the Great Hall, which includes ornate permeable sidewalls that act as a return air path for the conditioned space. In order for this raised floor to contribute to the overall look and feel, shuffleboards were added—which are now open for use by the public. Along similar lines, the mechanical design was completed such that mechanical equipment could be strategically placed within the roof wells and in the basement so that it cannot be seen from the street, so as not to detract from the impressive exterior of the building.
In another example of how the engineers solved the complexity of the task at hand, existing chandelier structures within the Great Hall serve double-duty as exhaust air paths for the atrium smoke control system. This was an important part of the overall improved Life Safety System, which, in addition to atrium smoke control, included designing a fully sprinklered system for the building to enhance the safety of patrons.
Through collaborative methods, the mechanical designers were able to hide and blend thousands of feet of duct, pipe, and mechanical system infrastructure into the overall beauty of the space, while still producing a system that was effective and sustainable enough to qualify for a LEED Certified Rating.