This two-story 56,000 sf Whole Foods Market sits across Wewatta Street from Union Station in downtown Denver. It forms the pedestal for a 14-story, multi-tower, mixed-use project. CSHQA designed the tenant improvement for Whole Foods and food prep areas in the basement, first floor, and mezzanine. Davis Partnership Architects designed the building shell and mixed-use towers.
The urban location and project scope presented significant challenges and opportunities. The building footprint covers a full city block with adjacent vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The four-sided design takes into consideration loading, recycling, and trash needs. Large, cityscape windows – atypical for grocery stores – are featured on all four sides of the building.
At the start of design review the City of Denver desired a building that would blend into the downtown commercial business district. Both Whole Foods and the developer wanted a welcoming, pedestrian friendly façade that would fit into the historic district surrounding Union Station. The latter approach prevailed, and the store has become an iconic attraction for locals, commuters and tourists.
Responding to the ‘four-sided’ footprint, the interior layout rethinks traditional back-of-house and kitchen functions for the grocery store and prepared food areas. A basement-level prep kitchen and cold storage with an internal elevator are part of the solution. Many of the counters separating guests from preparers were eliminated for an integrated customer–team member interface.
During the grand opening week, Whole Foods opened five stores across the county and each included an Amazon pop-up store complete with tech products and sales staff. However, only Union Station included the first ever Whole Foods Mac & Cheese Bar!
© Robert Charles Schmid / RCS Photo