Since its completion in 1983, the “Cash Register Building” has been a dominant and much-beloved focal point of the Denver skyline, so much so that today it is prominently featured on the city’s official logo. Given that history, the challenge of updating and refreshing such an iconic property – now known as the Wells Fargo Center – called for an innovative and transformative approach.
In order to do so, Beacon Capital Partners, the building’s owner, hired ESI Design with the goal of transforming the Wells Fargo Center to attract and engage with tenants and give the historic building a renewed sense of place. Rounding out the team is JLL/Callahan Management, which oversees the property’s day-to-day operations and manages Beacon’s other properties in Denver.
The building was in great condition, but it was time for a refresh to bring it up to the standards of the other properties in the investment portfolio and to create a space that would attract and retain tenants. The approach was to transform the property for today’s tenants, with innovative design, state-of-the-art connectivity, modern amenities, award-winning sustainability and risk-management initiatives. In addition, the team wanted to create a more modern, social, comfortable lobby experience, and update the building’s ID and signage.
It was important to honor the building’s original architecture and vision. The building was designed by Phillip Johnson, the renowned architect whose landmark achievements include the Sony Building and the Seagram Building in New York, the Crystal Cathedral in California and the Glass House in Connecticut. Given the lineage, art and interior design had to be prominent and groundbreaking, but also draw inspiration from the history and location.
A standout in the renovation has become one of the most breathtaking and eye-catching interior spaces to grace downtown Denver. Within the building’s immense street-level glass atrium, where the design echoes the cash register shape of the roof, we added five 86-foot floor-to-ceiling LED columns that are six times the resolution of normal high-definition displays in height. When viewed together, they create one canvas that finds the right balance between tranquility and grandeur. Varying ever-changing visual imagery is inspired by the Colorado landscape to bring the outdoors in.
The result is a dynamic display that engages occupants and visitors from most vantage points within the atrium. As important, the sheer enormity of the media installation makes it visible from the exterior through the atrium glass, ensuring an experience that is memorable and engaging for street traffic as well.