Historical Architecture

Colorado Derby Building

Award-Winning Project

  • Colorado Derby Building
    Award of Excellence

    Associated General Contractors of America

  • Colorado Derby Building
    Award of Honor

    Kansas Preservation Alliance · 2019

About the Project

The Colorado Derby building, which was a development of Frank and Henry Ablah of the Ablah Investment Company, was completed in 1960. W.I. Fisher & Co. Architects and Guy M. Shelley & Company Engineers, both from Wichita, Kansas, were the architect and structural engineer, respectively. The building was designed as a speculative office building but was fully occupied shortly after it opened. It is named after the Colorado Oil & Gas Co., which was the first company to occupy the building. Later the building served as the administrative office of the Wichita School District. In 2014 it was purchased by Water Street Lofts, L.L.C. and was renovated for use as residential apartments, now known as Colorado Derby Lofts.

The Colorado Derby Building is a nine-story example of modern movement architecture as seen by the rectangular footprint, use of glass, metal panels, and exposed aggregate precast concrete. As is common with the modern movement, there is no ornamentation on the building façade. The entry canopy to the underground parking garage stands in contrast to the regular form of the main building with its curvilinear, asymmetrical form.

In 2016, WDM renovated the historical building for adaptive reuse as loft apartments. The underground parking garage was maintained, as was the historic entry lobby. Architectural features of the entry lobby that were preserved include terrazzo flooring, exposed brick walls, and the original mail chute. Original wood trellis partitions were preserved and are visible within the first-floor common spaces.

Historic mosaic wall tile at the basement elevator lobby was also preserved. The original ribbon windows were cleaned and repaired.

The original signage on the building façade, which read “Colorado Derby,” had been removed many years ago. The missing signage was re-created based on evidence from historical blueprints and photographs.

This project qualified for Historic Tax Credits.

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