Rocky Mountain Real Estate Challenge Entry for River Mile

The Rocky Mountain Real Estate Challenge is a real world, development competition by Land Title Guarantee Company that pairs MBA student teams from the University of Colorado and the University of Denver with industry leaders in the Colorado real estate community to evaluate development opportunities. The focus of the 2023 challenge is the 62-acre River Mile project—situated on the edge of downtown Denver along the South Platte River and envisioned to become a sustainable, walkable downtown neighborhood.

FitzGerald was approached to be the Architectural Resource for “Team Crimson”, one of the two teams from the University of Denver. The team was tasked with creating a viable development plan that incorporated the unique connections that edge this prominent site, how they pass through and tie together within it—such as Denver’s light rail RTD, the South Platte River, and Speer Boulevard. A major consideration for the program was to create a hierarchy of building forms that grow as they move away from the river toward the urban edge of the site.

Since the challenge was sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service and Impact Finance Center (IFC), teams were charged to incorporate the use of Mass Timber in their proposals, showcasing this sustainable product and the need for sustainable forestry. Team Crimson integrated mass timber structure for 20% of the buildings on site, which worked well with the lower to medium sized buildings along the river and along the “main street” corridor—providing us with a design basis for the size and form of these buildings, which then were clad in various materials to emulate a similar feeling of the heavy timber buildings that are prevalent throughout the Lower Downtown neighborhood of Denver.

Throughout the challenge process, FitzGerald worked closely with the MBA student team to review and revise building area calculations—creating a plausible program that would provide them with data they needed to devise phasing and financial models for the development. We are proud to support Team Crimson in realizing their vision and enjoyed being a part of their process. Although Team Crimson did not advance to the final stages of the competition, we look forward to being available to help one of next year’s teams!