It’s hard not to recognize that there is a new trend in the Mile High City, and that trend is modern architecture. If you live in Denver, you might be like me and every time you drive through the streets of the Highlands, Sloan’s Lake, or Cherry Creek, another brick home has been demolished and yet another, ultra modern, box-like structure, has taken its place. With Denver’s current building trends, it might be a safe assumption that modern architecture is indeed the new face of Denver.

Denver’s History of Modernism

This isn’t the first time Denver has tried modern architecture on for size. Leading the movement post World War II, Frank Lloyd Wright and other modernist inspired a new point of view with design throughout the world, which was based on the idea of, “form follows function”. Their goal was to shift the focal point of architecture from ornamentation and interior design to construction and form, and Denver’s Hilltop neighborhood followed suit.

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47 Ash Street. 1957-58. Victor Hornbein. History Denver.

According to Historic Denver, Hilltop, one of Denver’s oldest “status symbol” neighborhoods, “became a Rocky Mountain mecca of modernism as early as the late 1930s. It was one of Denver’s first neighborhoods to break away from the streetcar lines and was growing just as modernism came on the scene.” Similar to modernism in today’s real estate market, the homes built in Hilltop were built for ‘forward-thinking’ families ready to break the mold of traditional home design.” And just like skinny jeans, modern architecture has reappeared and is now making a comeback!

Modernism Today

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2969 S. Lincoln Street. BcDc Design. Northland Construction.

So just how many homes are being built today using the modern motif? Based on my own research, there were sixty-six sold listings in the Highlands (condos excluded) entered into the MLS over the past three hundred and sixty days and only ONE of them was categorized as “traditional architecture”.  These findings were similar for four other, highly sought after Denver neighborhoods.


While these homes are in high demand, with an average “days on market” for the listings in the Highlands of fifty-one days, it seems as though Denverites express very opposing opinions in regards to seeing the beauty in modern architecture. My initial interest in this topic, drove me to Instagram where I posted the question, “Is Modern The New Face Of Denver?” While I received many “likes” and a few positive comments, one comment of, “gross” got me thinking about the polarized feelings when it comes to modern design.

The Advantages of Modern Design

This past spring, The McKenney Team was involved in a three year development project in Rosedale, an up-and-coming neighborhood in South Denver. The 12,000 square foot building lot, perched atop one of the area’s only hills and framed by endless mountain
views, was one of those, once in a lifetime opportunities to build a home and make it all about its scenery. The project took three years to complete, partially due to figuring out, exactly what and how, to build such a structure that would pay homage to the uniqueness of its setting. I remember one day, standing at the building site with the developer, and him saying to me, “I want to create the feeling you are living outside”.

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2657 S. Grant Street. BcDc Design.Northland Construction.

That is precisely what modernism is all about.  Today’s buyer looks for an open floor plan with equally useable indoor and outdoor space. Elysia Adams of A&L Consulting, a tycoon in the architecture, development, and design industry explains, “modern architecture, with the use of nana walls, glass garage doors and large sliding doors, achieves a sense of fluidity between the indoor/outdoor experience of residing in your home.”

When interviewing buyers today, one would think a finished basement would be one of the items high on their priority list when looking for a new home. Rather, buyers are more concerned about having a home with a roof top deck, something only possible with modern design. Try sitting on your roof with a traditional style home… I guarantee you will slide off those shingles before ever even cracking that beer.

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999 S. Adams Way. Elysia Adams.

More over, modern architecture gives its homeowner the ability to transform the home to suit their life, rather than the design dictating its vibe. Elysia describes this perfectly,

Modern design done properly is clean, functional and timeless. The use of space is inviting and can be modified over time to suit individual needs. A modern home tends to be a clean slate and depending on furnishings can be drastically different. I think that the attraction to a modern home is the use of space. Modern design is an invitation and ‘blank canvas’ that challenges concise and clean living while boasting fun amenities that make living in a modern home an opportunity that traditional formal homes don’t offer.

The Opposition

There is an opposition to the advantages of modern design, which I have a hunch many feel strongly about. I would like this article to be the first of two, and I am therefore asking my audience to help me finish this discussion. So I put it out there to you, why are you against modern design? What are its disadvantages? What things do you compromise when choosing modern over other motifs?

Please feel free to leave comments below, send me an email, or share this post on your social media outlets with your opinions!
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For more information on Elysia Adam’s projects, contact her at:

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