Spotlight on Denver Architecture: The Brown Palace

One of our favorite pieces of architecture in Denver is the historic Brown Palace Hotel.
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It is the second-oldest operating hotel of Denver and is one of the first atrium-style hotels ever built. Henry C. Brown built the triangular-shaped hotel at 321 17th St. in 1892, and it is the city’s second-oldest hotel, after the Oxford.
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The Brown Palace was one of the first to incorporate an atrium-style design. Over the years, it has hosted several U.S. presidents and other dignitaries, including members of the Beatles.

The hotel is located at 321 17th Street between 17th Street, Broadway and Tremont Street/Pl in downtown Denver behind the Republic Plaza. The main entrance door is on Tremont Street.

The hotel was the site of the high profile 1911 murders in which Frank Henwood shot and killed Sylvester Louis “Tony” von Phul and accidentally killed an innocent bystander, George Copeland, in the hotel’s “Marble Bar.” Henwood and von Phul were rivals for (or shared) the affections of Denver socialite Isabel Springer, the wife of wealthy Denver businessman and political candidate John W. Springer. The murders culminated in a series of very public trials.
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Tradition runs deep in the Mile High City and the Brown Palace is no exception. Due to a long-standing association with the National Western Stockshow, the Brown Palace has a tradition of displaying a grand champion steer in the atrium lobby during afternoon tea each January. Recently a bee colony was constructed on the roof, helping to pollinate various plants in Civic Center Park planted by the hotel. The honey harvested from the colony is used in both the spa products unique to the hotel and in tea service and specialty culinary offerings. As of 2013 the hotel was up for sale.


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Smart Doorbells For Home Security

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The DoorBot

Smart Doorbells For Home Security

Fear of hackers may keep some homeowners from buying Wi-Fi enabled door locks but even if you’re not interested in using an app to lock your doors or control your alarm system, you may want to consider a smart doorbell that enables you to see who’s on your doorstep. Such home security systems are in abundance at the 2014 International CES, including two doorbells you can answer from a wireless device.

Shipping since late November, this wireless doorbell, $199, connects to your home Wi-Fi network. Other devices on the network can be used to view live video of who’s at the door. With the included app (for iPhone, iPad, or Android), you can see, hear, and speak to visitors even from afar—and even when it’s dark outside. The device replaces your existing doorbell using the same wiring, and the battery lasts a year. In addition to the company’s website,, it’s available from Amazon and Staples.

At the moment it has a quirky drawback intended to preserve long battery life. To do that, the DoorBot takes a nap until someone rings the bell. But the company plans to issue an update that lets you view your doorstep even if no one has pushed the doorbell.

The iSmartAlarm Doorfront.

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iSmartAlarm Doorfront
The iSmartAlarm Doorfront is a wireless doorbell that was recently added to the iSmartAlarm system. The alarm system sells for $199 or $349 depending on the configuration, and is a collection of wireless components that includes a camera, motion sensor, and a remote tag (for tracking children or pets). The replacement doorbell lets you know when someone is approaching the door even before they ring the bell, and you can see, hear, and speak to visitors using the company’s app on your iPhone. You can also view streaming video, take snapshots, or set the system to automatically capture activity with the product’s built-in motion detector.

Consumer Reports hasn’t tested these products so we can’t vouch for them. But over the coming year we plan to purchase and test many web-enabled connected home products, which have become known collectively as “the Internet of things.”

For more news from the show, check out the Insider’s guide to CES 2014.

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Book on French Neoclassic Architecture

Book on French Neoclassic Architecture that we recommend:

The Architecture of the French Enlightenment Paperback

by Allan Braham  (Author)

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Château de Chenonceau


“Allan Braham’s book The Architecture of the French Enlightenment makes no acknowledgement of the current architectural interest in Neoclassicism and, in fact, Braham wants us to see this architecture as the product of a singular society. Nonetheless, whether he intended it or not, this straightforward, well- illustrated book will make life a lot easier for architects who have been pursuing French Neoclassicism . . . . [Braham] tells us a lot about the individual buildings.” — Elizabeth G. Grossman, Progressive Architecture

“Braham weaves architecture so skillfully into history that the general reader familiar with the great buildings of France will find much to admire in its illustrated pages.” — John Barkham Reviews

“[An] important and pioneering account of French architecture of the second half of the eighteenth century.” — Francis Haskell, New York Review of Books

“[There has been a] need for a book on the architecture of the period in which . . . [Ledoux and Boulle] would be brought into clearer relation with their contemporaries. . . . This is exactly what Allan Braham has done.” — Anthony Blunt, Times Literary Supplement
About the Author
Allan Braham is Keeper and Deputy of the National Gallery, London.

Tallest Building in America?


Tallest Building in America?

One World Trade Center Just Might Be!



By Dante D’Orazio on November 12, 2013 11:01 am Email @dantedorazio

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One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center has been crowned the tallest building in the Americas, standing at a symbolic (and now official) 1,776 feet. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, an international body that determines the heights of skyscrapers, has ruled that the spire atop One World Trade is an architecturally significant feature of the building — not an antenna. Council chairman Timothy Johnson said that the spire was clearly “the end of the architectural expression of the building,” adding at a press conference today that “for us it was very clear that it was a spire and not an antenna.” Johnson is also a partner at NBBJ, a global architecture firm.

The decision makes the official height of the building 1,776 feet, not 1,368 feet, which is the height of the building’s roof. It also allows One World Trade to beat out Chicago’s Willis Tower as the tallest in the US. Willis Tower’s antenna does not count towards its official “architectural height.” Internationally, the Council is now projecting that One World Trade will be the third tallest building in the world upon completion, behind the 2,717-foot Burj Khalifa and the 1,972-foot Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel in Mecca.


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Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

One World Trade Center’s spire doesn’t include any radio or broadcast equipment — it only features decorative lighting — and that fact seems to have helped it win the Council’s favor. Johnson explained that “having been on the roof of the World Trade, this is essentially a small building up there,” referring to the spire. He added that a small lightning rod and a light above the spire that serves to warn airplanes do not count towards the height, and the 1,776-foot measurement does not include those minor functional pieces of equipment.

The 25-person Council, comprised of architects, engineers, contractors, academics, and suppliers, met on November 8th in Chicago to make a decision, and as it typically does, the council re-evaluated its criteria before making a ruling. The team concluded that the rules were valid, and then made the unanimous decision to rule that the spire was not an antenna. As for the actual measurement 1,776 feet, the Council relies on One World Trade’s architectural plans. This means that the team is “basically taking the word of the architects and engineers,” as Johnson explained, noting that the procedure is the same for all other skyscrapers.

There are three different height criteria used by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat: “height to the architectural top,” “highest occupied floor,” and “height to tip.” The Willis Tower beats out One World Trade for the highest occupied floor, at 1,354 feet vs. 1,268 feet. Only the architectural height is used to determine the tallest buildings in the world, however, and it’s also the most controversial. This measurement officially includes spires, but not “antennae, signage, flag poles or other functional-technical equipment.”


Not only does One World Trade’s spire not include functional equipment, it also is perceived as a permanent fixture on the building. Antennas like that found on Willis Tower have been swapped out and removed in the past. Indeed, the Willis Tower — called the Sears Tower at the time — had its two antennas added in the early ’80s, close to ten years after the building’s completion. In 2000 one of the antennas was replaced with a taller antenna for improved reception. The spire on One World Trade, in contrast, is made of stainless steel and is integrated into the building’s design, according to the Council. Should it ever be replaced or repurposed as an antenna, the Council would revisit its decision, according to Johnson.

The decision was clearly fraught with political interest, and some may point to those forces as influencing the decision today. Johnson said in light of the pressure that “we were very happy that our conclusion was that we were able to ratify that that was the height of the building.”


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