As Denver’s LoDo neighborhood continues to boom following the highly successful renovation of Union Station, all eyes are on a new development a few blocks away from the train depot, courtesy of McWhinney and Grand American, as well as locally based Sage Hospitality. The 172-room Maven, a sister property to Union Station’s Crawford Hotel (also a Sage property), is one part of the ambitious mixed-use project that occupies a former industrial site with public spaces from Brooklyn-based Crème and guestrooms by local architect Johnson Nathan Strohe.
While the lobby “gets most of its coloration from natural materials like the orangey leather armchairs and the golden brass and bluestone,” says Crème principal Jun Aizaki, the property stands out because it truly personifies maker culture. In fact, it’s the hotel’s 400-plus pieces of artwork curated by longtime Sage Hospitality collaborator Nine Dot Arts (unique art is a mainstay for Sage) that add a local and artisanal layer. A piece by sculptor Andrew Ramiro Tirado, for example, welcomes guests in the form of a 10-foot-long hand made of reclaimed wood that hangs from the lobby ceiling, paying homage to George Nakashima, one of the fathers of America’s craft movement. The hand guides the guest’s eye to “Dark Matter Gathering,” a 300-plus piece installation from Travis Hetman that creates a framed galaxy from his black and white photographs. It’s not just visual stimulation that’s offered either: On the lower level, sound works by Jim Green greet guests as they enter the restrooms, while Chris Bagley’s “Disco River” is a dreamy, interactive, and kaleidoscopic experience.
Guestrooms reintroduce many of the same finishes and a similar palette from the public spaces. Yet it’s the artwork that adds dimension and whimsy. Suites feature floor-to-ceiling murals by local talent Jason Thielke, Molly Bounds, and Karen Fisher, whose “Mod Maude” mixed media piece takes inspiration from vintage fashion photography and Klimt paintings. “We were interested in reflecting the materials of the site’s history,” says Johnson Nathan Strohe partner Nicole Nathan of the new-build modular brick building that the firm designed, pointing out room numbers hand-fashioned from nails set into beetle-killed pine.
The importance of craftsmanship is showcased in other ways too, including through stenciled graphics in the elevator banks inspired by tattoo sleeves and in the hotel’s main restaurant, Kachina Southwestern Grill, where a mural by Emanuel Martinez features a contemporary Native American woman wearing sunglasses that reflect the desert and are bracketed by neon-hued ears of corn.
“This neighborhood was built around industry and railways,” Nathan observes. “The Maven continues that tradition, but instead of the story of the transportation of goods, it’s about a contemporary transportation of ideas as reflected in startups, communities, and makers.”