15th & Pearl Mixed-Use Structure

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Location: Boulder, CO, USA. Corner mixed-use parking structure in Boulder shopping district

The 15th and Pearl Mixed-Use Structure combines parking space with retail and office space. It has sparked renewal of a six block section of Pearl Street, the primary shopping street in Boulder, CO, not only by supplying much-needed parking, but by creating an active new retail block. It connects a downtown pedestrian street with the East End neighborhood, a revitalized district featuring retail, restaurants, offices, and condominiums.

The two primary purposes of the structure are to accommodate automobiles and to encourage pedestrians to walk between a downtown pedestrian area called the Pearl Street Mall, and the East End neighborhood. This unique combination of parking, retail and office space has created a parking area for 700 cars and a block-long retail environment that links the open-air mall and the burgeoning mixed-use retail and entertainment area to the east.

One of the most important features of this building is the pedestrian-friendly street front. The enhanced pedestrian presence has created an environment for further retail and restaurants. Instead of a blank, uninviting parking block, 15th and Pearl has created a lively block of retail street frontages that light up the block. The new shops give pedestrians, shoppers, and diners a feeling of security as they stroll the street.

The mixed-use facility was built in accordance with the City of Boulder's Downtown Growth Plan, which calls for just enough parking to meet downtown’s needs. By avoiding an oversupply of parking, the City keeps the emphasis on a pedestrian-oriented downtown. The City owns the structure and is a tenant of a portion of the office space, deriving income from the remainder of the office and retail.

The design approach for the parking structure was to wrap a 700-space garage with retail and office space. The garage has five levels above grade and two below. The parking is wrapped with four separate structures, each defined by distinct brick colors and articulated forms. The intimate scale of the building's facade and the warmth of the brick detailing provide a handsome and protective enclosure for Pearl Street. This design eliminates the effect of a parking structure looming over at-grade retail space. Parking decks rise up behind the two-story retail and office space, but are largely hidden from street view. This retail has a different structural system than the parking, complete with separate building permits. The windows and storefronts of the office space and retail add additional detail while breaking down the scale of the architecture.

The highly detailed brickwork, with steel canopies, and steel framework communicate this building's kinship with the nearby 19th- and early 20th-century brick building fronts. Downtown Boulder’s low-rise brick and steel-detailed buildings offer a rich palette of color and scale. The historic fabric has set a high standard of design for other new buildings in this district. Since 15th and Pearl opened, other designers are following its lead with inspired buildings of their own, creating a new architectural context with a strong sense of contemporary detail.

Beyond architectural style, 15th and Pearl is the critical link in the revitalization of a ten-block long mixed-use district. Because is it located between the end of the pedestrian mall and the East End neighborhood, creating a continuity of active pedestrian uses on the street, it is both seamlessly linked and integrated into this part of Downtown Boulder. At 15th and Pearl, a new parking structure contributes to the pedestrian experience, rather than detracting from it.

Read more at this project's website.

Transect Zone(s): T4 general, T5 center.
Status: Complete
Project or Plan's Scale: Building
Features: Mixed uses.
Project team designers: RNL Designers, Inc.
Project team developers: City of Boulder

Previous site status: Redevelopment