Award-Winning Project Enlivens a Denver Neighborhood

Joe Duggan, Communications

September 08, 2020

Vida is Spanish for “life.”

Vida at Sloan’s Lake is a dynamic, mixed-use building in the Sloan’s Lake neighborhood of Denver designed to provide a better life for its residents.

The nine-story, 175-unit structure on West Colfax Avenue features a sixth-floor outdoor patio and roof garden, naturally lit hallways, basement-level parking, and a stylish façade brimming with personality. This showcase project by the Denver Housing Authority (DHA) also provides ground-floor space for a neighborhood medical clinic, dialysis center, and adult wellness center – bringing essential services to an underserved community and allowing older residents to age in place.

Braden Hirsch, who oversaw Olsson’s contribution to the project, says the combination of features has challenged more than a few assumptions about what affordable housing can be.

“It’s progressive; it takes care of the people who live there – it’s just a really smart residential project in an area that’s seeing some major revitalization,” said Braden, who leads our Field Operations team in Colorado.

The unique qualities of Vida at Sloan’s Lake also helped earn the project an Eagle Award, a prestigious honor given annually by Housing Colorado to a select number of outstanding residential projects. In its announcement, Housing Colorado said the $39.5 million project was honored for “re-establishing critical primary medical care services and providing new units of affordable housing.”

In remarks during a virtual awards ceremony, Ryan Tobin, chief real estate investment officer for DHA, said, “Vida is truly a representation of how hard we work at collaboration and partnerships to build inclusive and equitable homes and housing.”

Designed by Parikh Stevens Architects and built by Pinkard Construction, the project has more going for it than a smart concept and abundant livability. DHA wanted to make sure its investment stood tall for the long haul. And that’s why Olsson was selected for the team.

In 2016, DHA retained our firm to provide geotechnical services, materials testing, and construction inspection on an as-needed basis for a series of housing projects in targeted areas of the city. The primary elements of the Vida building include the drilled-pier foundation system, shotcrete walls, below-grade structural concrete parking garage, two levels of structural concrete with post-tensioned floor slabs, and six floors of structural and cold-formed steel framing.

DHA relied on Olsson to ensure all construction materials and installations met plans, specifications, and building code requirements – work that is essential for the long-term safety, quality, and durability of the structure. We were called in to perform special inspections, materials testing, and some geotechnical design for crane pads. We provided flood testing and inspections of drilled piers, shotcrete, structural concrete, waterproofing membranes, post-tensioned concrete, masonry, steel, fireproofing, and exterior sheathing.

“A project of this size and duration had a lot of different pieces to it,” Braden said. “We maintained a balance by having a member of our team at the site on a regular basis for consistency, while bringing in our people with specialty skills and certifications as they were needed.”

When the Vida project ran into a couple of unforeseen challenges, we worked closely with Pinkard Construction to find workarounds and stay on schedule. That required clear communication, robust teamwork, and creative thinking – all hallmarks of Olsson.

“Where there’s a problem, there’s a solution,” Braden said. “We helped find the solutions that kept the project moving.”

And we are grateful to have been a part of the team that brought Vida at Sloan’s Lake to life.

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