In Chicago, it’s the Sears Tower. In New York City, it’s the Empire State Building. In Denver, the Wells Fargo Center has become the emblem of the city’s skyline largely due to the elegant curvature in the center’s roof line. Located in the heart of downtown, the Wells Fargo Building is Denver’s third tallest building from ground to roof. However it’s location, partially elevated on a hill at 17th and Lincoln gives it a slight elevation advantage over it’s taller two counterparts: the Republic Plaza and the Quest Tower. The skyscraper is home to many businesses including local accounting firms, law practices, and energy companies. The building also boasts coffee shops, delis, an exercise center, and a state of the art conference room. While there is plenty offered inside the walls, it’s the exterior that has visitors marveling.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the building’s construction. Made of granite and gray glass windows, the Wells Fargo Center was designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson in 1983. The stand out feature of the building’s design lies in the roof line which has been nicked named the “cash register” or the “mailbox”. Two curving roofs make up the landmark’s look but surprisingly the building was not intended to be built in Denver. The design was first drawn up for a Texas town where weather, particularly snow, wasn’t a factor in the architectural plans. However when the skyscraper was constructed in Denver instead, the first winter brought out one key flaw in the structure’s design. The curved roofs, while beautiful to admire, did not account for snow accumulation and only after large mounds of snow came crashing down from 52 stories above did the building receive some improvements. Now both sloping roofs have heated glass to prevent snow build up. In addition to the “cash register-style” roof lines, the building also has a beautiful sunlit atrium of the same style connecting it by sky bridge to it’s neighboring building, 1700 Broadway.
While the building will always be known as the Wells Fargo Building, the property has changed hands over the years. In 2012 the property sold to Beacon Capital Investors for a cool $387.5 million. Prior to it’s selling, the building was awarded the coveted LEED Gold Status in 2010 when large scale renovations converted the commercial building into a more environmentally friendly space. Improvements include upgraded filters for heating & cooling systems, xeriscape conversion for landscaping complete with drip irrigation to conserve water usage, and the use of green products for cleaning. From the visual aesthetics on the exterior to the green building operations inside, Denver’s iconic Wells Fargo Center boasts so much of what the city is all about.