Pat Hainault, P.E., R.A. Smith, Inc. (CFSEI Chair, 2022-23), Shane Ewing, Martin/Martin, Inc., Kara Peterman, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts (CFSEI Vice Chair, 2022-23)

Photo courtesy of Douglass Colony Group, Inc.

Meow Wolf Denver
1338 1st Street
Denver, Colorado 80204

Completed: September 2021
Construction Cost: $30 million

Owner: Revesco Properties
Architect of Record: Ryan Meeks, Shears Adkins Rockmore
Engineer of Record for Structural Work:
John Jucha, KL&A
Cold-Formed Steel Specialty Engineer: Shane Ewing, Martin/Martin, Inc.
Cold-Formed Steel Specialty Contractor: Nick Hartline, ICI Colorado, LLC
Cold-Formed Steel Panel Fabricator: Joe Doxey, Douglass Colony Group, Inc.
Award Entry Submitted by: Shane Ewing, Martin/Martin, Inc.

Project Background

Photo courtesy of Douglass Colony Group, Inc.

Meow Wolf Denver, also known as Convergence Station, is an interactive art museum whose mission is to “inspire creativity through art, exploration, and play so that imagination will transform the world.”

The project earned the name “The Big Sleepy Pizza” for its wedge shape that fits in the unique urban site just outside of downtown Denver. The building is located on an extremely tight and challenging site at the convergence of a major city street (Colfax Avenue) and two highway on/off ramps.

The building is a four-story, steel-framed structure with many curved exterior walls and soffits. Cold-formed steel (CFS) framing was the natural choice to form these curved surfaces and provide backup for the metal panel skin.

Design Challenges and Solutions

Martin/Martin, Inc. (Martin/Martin) provided engineering services  to support both the framing specialty contractor, ICI Colorado, LLC (ICI), and the wall panel fabricator, Douglass Colony Group, Inc. (Douglass Colony). The three companies have worked together successfully on many projects in the Denver area and beyond.

Photo courtesy of Douglass Colony Group, Inc.

Because of the very limited laydown area and the difficulty in using lifts, the team chose to use a panelized wall approach for as much wall area as feasible. The 44-foot-tall by 8-foot-wide (to fit on a flatbed truck) wall panels with air and vapor barrier installed, were fabricated in Douglass Colony’s nearby facility, shipped to the site, and installed by ICI. This approach saved weeks in field installation.

The extremely tall wall panels were installed in the narrow gap between the overpass and the face of the building. The height of the wall panels presented more challenges in handling and erecting than can be visualized with the final project, as Martin/Martin had to engineer and reinforce the panels to be handled in the shop, shipped via truck, lifted, and then craned into place.

While the tall wall panels were fairly simple from a framing standpoint, the first-level soffit framing was more challenging. The wall framing terminates at the soffit with a complex curvilinear edge, matching the same curve of the soffit framing. Martin/Martin was compelled to isolate the hung wall framing from the soffit, resulting in complicated bracing and tricky movement joints. The geometry was also such that ICI requested a point-by-point layout to define the edge of framing.

The mix of site constraints and geometric complexities created unique design and construction challenges for Martin/Martin and for the installation/fabrication team of ICI and Douglass Colony. The approach of maximizing off-site construction to address the bulk of the façade, with field framing of complex but more accessible areas, provided the most cost and schedule advantages and ensured the delivery of a successful project.

Meow Wolf has been recognized with the City and County of Denver Mayor’s Design Awards and has become an architectural icon and favorite tourist attraction.

Photo courtesy of Douglass Colony Group, Inc.

Photo courtesy of Douglass Colony Group, Inc.

Photo courtesy of Martin/Martin, Inc.