Semple Brown Design Completes Gates Family Foundation Denver Headquarters

Gates Family Foundation’s new “green” headquarters in downtown Denver preserves building’s historic character while meeting demanding sustainability requirements



DENVER, Colorado—October 29, 2013—Semple Brown Design, one of the most recognized and respected full service design firms in Colorado, today announced completion of the Gates Family Foundation’s new headquarters located in the historic Hover Building at 1390 Lawrence Street. Sited in the heart of Denver’s Central Business District, the 7,800-square-foot top floor office space designed by Semple Brown, meets the challenge of preserving the rich historic nature of the building’s architecture while complying with the rigorous standards required for a LEED Gold Commercial Interiors rating.

The Gates Family Foundation offices, carefully tucked into the existing restored structure originally built in 1901, are strategically adjusted to the occupant’s needs through aesthetically clean, scaled office, conference and open spaces. Wiring and mechanical systems are largely concealed within the historic shell—a particularly difficult task given the volume of specialized technology required to meet the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED Gold standards. A raised floor, spanning the full space, and a series of custom-designed soffits over office and other occupied spaces, conceal 90 percent of electrical and technology systems, eliminating nearly all mechanical and electrical impact on the existing historic wood structure and ceiling deck. Successful integration of the huge volume of technology required to comply with the USGBC’s strict requirements, was achieved through very careful coordination between Semple Brown’s design team and the general contractor, Denver-based Sprung Construction.

“A significant portion of the Foundation’s work involves support for conservation and natural resource stewardship in Colorado, and we are a capital funder of many nonprofit and community facilities. We always encourage grantees to employ green and sustainable materials and practices, so LEED Gold certification for our space seemed appropriate—we felt we could create an efficient, sustainable and contemporary set of improvements that worked well with the historic character of the building,” states Tom Gougeon, president of the Gates Family Foundation. “In addition to achieving certification, Semple Brown Design did a beautiful job of creating a warm, inviting, timeless and respectful environment for our staff, community partners and visitors.”

Numerous sustainable strategies—ranging from independent HVAC controls in each office, water-efficient plumbing fixtures, LED lighting and light harvesting (light sensors automatically dim interior light fixtures when exterior light is bright, and increase artificial light when external light sources diminish), to the specification of furniture—were applied. The Foundation also commissioned two local woodworkers—Peter Eggers, president of Denver-based Woden Woods, and Aurora-based woodworker, Ethan Hutchinson—to craft their conference room table, kitchen table and chairs from an ancient ponderosa pine found on the Gates family homestead near Evergreen, Colorado. The tree had been weakened by beetles, and fallen in a high wind event. Further, all of the Foundation’s casework is made from material certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which “ensures that products come from well managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits.”



The Foundation’s offices introduce a timeless and respectful ambiance to their well-lit spaces. Muted earth tones, Navajo-inspired fabrics and rugs, exposed brick walls, natural tweedy materials and a rustic contemporary aesthetic provide the perfect backdrop for classic Knoll and Herman Miller seating.

A new 400-square-foot rooftop penthouse addition and 2,000-square-foot deck accessed by a stairway, bring the outside into the Foundation’s new interior spaces while offering spectacular panoramic views of the Rocky Mountain Front Range and downtown Denver.

Mary Kay Sunset, the principal in charge of the Gates Family Foundation project, is confident that the requirements for LEED Gold Commercial Interiors certification have been met. She expects to receive confirmation from the USBGC sometime early next year.

About Semple Brown Design:

Semple Brown Design has built a reputation over the last 30 years for being one of the most respected full service design firms in Colorado. Since its co-founding by Sarah Semple Brown, FAIA and Rusty Brown, AIA in 1982, the firm’s genuine passion for delivering great design has resulted in some of the most prominent, award-winning projects in the state, as well as a long list of high-profile and repeat clients. The September 2012 issue of 5280 Home describes Semple Brown as “Denver’s premiere architectural firm.” Notable examples of Semple Brown’s work include the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, the restoration of Larimer Square and renovation of Denver Pavilions, the new Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center, and Kent Denver School’s new Dining Hall. Semple Brown has also designed many of Denver’s most beloved restaurants—Frasca, The Kitchen, The Squeaky Bean, Coohills, Steubens and Euclid Hall to name only a few—as well as numerous Colorado residences. In recognition of its design excellence the firm has also received more than 100 design awards from a variety of esteemed groups, including the American Institute of Architects, the American Society of Interior Designers, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. For further information, please see:

About Gates Family Foundation:

The Gates Family Foundation makes philanthropic investments statewide that contribute to the quality of life in Colorado, create opportunities for youth, and support stewardship of this extraordinary place, particularly the state’s natural inheritance. The Foundation was established in 1946 and has invested nearly $250 million towards these ends since its formation. The Foundation’s current priorities include closing the education achievement gap for low income students, advancing long-term solutions for landscape conservation and water resource management, supporting the viability of rural communities and promoting smarter, greener and healthier models of urbanism. The Gates Foundation is also a significant capital funder of nonprofit and community facilities throughout the state. For more information, please see:

For More Information

Semple Brown Design

(303) 571-4137


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