Modern in Denver
Winter 2012

Living The Dream

Most people prefer not to take their work home. But for the founders of ubiquitous real estate powerhouse Mile Hi Modern, that’s the whole point. Modern architecture isn’t just a career focus, but a living, breathing passion for Peter Blank and Craig Mayer.

These two are proof that putting your money where your mouth is yields incredible results that make you feel right at home. So, we took a peek at their private residences to see what dedication looks like. From Lo-Hi to Hawaii, Peter and Craig offer an insider lesson on modern living.
 First, let’s back up. Five years ago, Peter and Craig watched in horror as increasing swaths of the metro area were scraped of their irreplaceable modern homes. “We were seeing so many of these cool homes being bulldozed in favor of the McMansions,” Peter recalls.

“A lot of people didn’t even know about them. So we decided early

on we should bring a voice and spotlight on these interesting architectural houses that people would love to live in.” That’s how Mile Hi Modern was born. Peter and Craig made a point to celebrate the work of architects like Charles Sink, Edward Hawkins and Charles Haertling, among others, as well as finding the right individuals to inhabit their masterpieces.  “Since then, we’ve incorporated new development as well,” Peter explains, as time has turned their real estate business into a definitive resource for  modern architectural property in the greater metro area. And even though Craig has moved on to his dream

home in Hawaii, he’s still an important member of the Mile Hi Modern family. “What I love about Craig’s house is the simplicity of materials,” says Peter, whose own space exemplifies the traits that his company serves to preserve.

Crossing the threshold of Peter’s new home is an experience in personalized modern. He recently traded in the familiar post-and-beam tradition of his Krisana Park mid-50s ranch for a cutting-edge modern build in the Lower Highlands. While sipping mint tea in his kitchen, Peter jubilantly remarks, “You may have noticed, one thing Peter Blank doesn’t have is a

dining room table.” Noting that most homeowners never use theirs, Peter refuses to take up fifteen percent of his real estate with a formal dining room. Instead, each end of his kitchen opens to welcoming couches meant to facilitate conversation over cocktails and appetizers. “You won’t get dinner here,” Peter adds. When the tap runs dry, guests are promptly escorted to one of the swank neighborhood eateries. “The Highlands are the San Francisco of Denver,” he says. “The neighborhood is a truly vibrant, energetic area with a walk score of a zillion.”

The 5280 house, named because the living space sits exactly one mile above sea level, was a custom build Peter acquired after the original buyers left Denver. With its walkout basement, main floor master, and third story living space, the house is upside-down. The reverse layout – where top floor rooms are afforded the most coveted views – represents a thoughtful, unconventional construction style.

Well-versed in modern and multiresidential contemporary structures, the home’s urban setting was a natural location for Yong Cho, owner of Studio Completiva,

to build what he calls a quasi-townhome. “When it comes to new construction,” says Cho, “homeowners want square footage, as well as a configuration that maximizes light and views; as a form, the townhome lends itself to this kind of redevelopment.” Peter’s lot is long but narrow, so Cho increased square footage by building in high parameters. And, because quasitownhouses like Peter’s aren’t connected to other structures, it’s possible to introduce light in a big way.

“The location and size of each window was thoughtfully studied,” Cho explains, citing

four different levels of aperture accomplished via a massive northern window with minimal overhang, a southern pane with long overhang, skylights, and a clear vista along the east. A corner stairwell window invites morning sunbeams; glaze, used in the bathrooms, dissolves corners, further illuminating the home.

Despite glass superfluity, there isn’t a single window treatment in Peter’s residence. “It’s a total fishbowl,” he admits, “But curtains would ruin all of the natural light.” Mid-afternoon rain echoes off glass and concrete walls, a reminder that window coverings would

also destroy the home’s alfresco vibe. “I relate to the outdoors and don’t like feeling restrained,” Peter explains. Thoughtful space planning makes it possible for Peter to have uncovered wall-sized windows and privacy simultaneously.

The master bath exemplifies this concept; it boasts a show stopping walk-in shower and soaking tub positioned parallel to a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking downtown Denver. An outdoor shower of sorts, the room is one of many nods to Peter’s Brazilian upbringing. In fact, he also nostalgically refers to it as the Rio house.

History and personality were brought in via artwork and collectibles.

It’s the art that grounds Peter. “I believe in buying furniture that’s appropriate for the space, which is why I sold all my old furniture when I bought this house. But, I don’t go anywhere without my art.” Constantly surrounded by his parents’
creative friends during his formative childhood years, Peter prefers eclectic furnishings to the typical mod décor. Rustic furniture and carefully placed provocative art are set against concrete and steel. An 18th century sugar grinder sculpture is on

display in the living room.  Cowhide throws, popular in Brazil since the 1950s, grace Peter’s couches. Each piece of artwork – from a Peter Illig piece in the entry to Emmet Culligan’s mighty 52 steel sculpture – is novel. Perusing the space, it becomes obvious that, while Peter loves modern architecture, Italian modern doesn’t necessarily resonate. Personalization wins.