Botanica on the Green has established quite a reputation for its untraditional approach to multifamily residential living. The 232-unit apartment project nestled in Denver is being hailed as a “New Urbanist fantasy” and an “outdoor oasis in the city.”

It's easy to see why Botanica has received so much acclaim. Located on the former site of the Stapleton International Airport, the upscale apartment community's exterior is one of its boldest elements. The three-story project strays from the stucco and tile roofs typical in this area and instead has a decidedly unboxy appearance and subtle shades of what architect Daniel Gehman describes as “earth, sand, and sky” tones.

Gehman is a principal at Irvine, Calif.-based Thomas P. Cox Architects, the firm that designed the Botanica. Forest City Enterprises developed, built, and currently manages the property.

The thought process behind the project's design was about giving it a frontier-like appearance but in an abstract, modern form. “We wanted the design to be entirely new, but instantly familiar,” Gehman says. Some parts of the building feature brick exteriors, while other areas feature modern metallic-looking balconies.

There were some design challenges to overcome. On the north side of the seven-acre site, there were contemporary commercial office buildings. On the parcel's south side: more traditional alley-loaded single-family homes. The challenge was to make the project blend in with its two contrasting surroundings. As a result, the firm decided to go with a more townhome feel. The units, in keeping with the New Urbanism pedestrian-friendly approach, have separate walk-up entries with virtual front door access to the 2.5 acres of open space called the Founders' Green.

Another cool feature of the property: Roughly two-third of the units have windows in the front and back of the building, giving residents plenty of light and sun from both sides.

Botanica offers one-, two-, and three-bedroom floorplans ranging in size from 704 square feet to 1,679 square feet. Density is at 32 units per acre. Monthly rents go from $950 to $1,700. The first phase of the Botanica opened in 2004, and phase two is slated to open this summer. The project is 96 percent occupied.

COLORADO CONVENIENCE: At Botanica, residents can walk to shops, restaurants, the bank, and the cleaners.
COLORADO CONVENIENCE: At Botanica, residents can walk to shops, restaurants, the bank, and the cleaners.