By Barbra Murray, Contributing Writer
Denver—It’s called V Tower, and the creative design of the proposed 426,000 square-foot mixed-use residential high-rise is also a creative solution to a water-conservation issue in Denver. But the building is not slated for development. It is a case study on efficient water usage by visionary architectural firm Meridian 105 Architecture.
Denver is no stranger to sustainability. As per a report issued this year by research firm Experian Simmons, it ranks 20th on the list of the top 25 greenest cities in the United States. And the city promotes efficient water usage—except when it comes to water storage tanks. “In the city of Denver, buildings are not allowed to store stormwater runoff, so the study looks at the alternative water sources inherent to the mechanical equipment in a building,” Chad Mitchell, president of Meridian 105, tells MHN. And what a building the hypothetical V Tower would be, mechanical equipment and all.
The property features 240 residences as well as approximately 45,500 square feet of retail space; 13,000 square feet of café and restaurant space; nearly 9,200 square feet of amenity space; and a 31,800 square-foot raised park that gives the illusion of a building built at grade level. And V Tower’s units feature all of the customary extras, right down to the ubiquitous air conditioners and clothes dryers, both of which have an additional purpose at Meridian 105’s imagined building. “The proposal takes condensation from the AC units and the condenser dryers and distributes it to a storage tank, which is higher up in the main structure,” Mitchell explains. “It supplements the water for the irrigation of the property, so it reduces the amount of water purchased from the city.”
And V Tower’s unique design allows for even more water conservation methods. The property’s retail, restaurant and parking facility are at the base of the building and encased in a lattice structure that functions as more than just a stunning façade. The lattice conceals a piping system that sits above the raised park and allows rainwater—dripping down from the extra-large residential balconies—to circumvent the storage tank and travel through the concealed piping system. “The proposal would work with or without the city’s water collection rule,” he notes.
Meridian 105’s novel architectural concept offers a sustainable environment beyond the efficient use of H2O. The crisscross exterior over the glass also provides shading, which keeps the interior cool, thereby reducing the need for air conditioning. And when the days get shorter, the lattice allows the sun to shine in and provide additional natural light. The park also acts as a purification system to prepare the water for its return to the city.
Back to the beauty of it all, V Tower’s exterior matrix masquerades as a giant home garden, with vine-covered lattice masking the garage enclosure. Add the architecture and design to the open grass areas, green roof and community garden, and the building concept becomes both figuratively and literally green.
It is an innovative proposal, but when Meridian 105 conceived it, the firm had no expectations of securing any commitment from a real estate company to bring the project to fruition. “We work with a lot of developers and do design studies pertaining to residential issues—this one involves water usage–and we do it to facilitate conversation.” Builders are more likely to warm up to the idea of V Tower well before the city of Denver comes around. “They only recently allowed water collection in single-family homes.