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Highway E-470 is a 47 mile-long controlled access toll road traversing the eastern portion of the Denver-Aurora Metropolitan area in the state of Colorado. While it is not a state highway it is owned and maintained by the E-470 Public Highway Authority. For years highway E-470 has been mainly utilized as a commuter highway for Coloradans providing an alternate north-south route to Interstate I-25 bypassing the Metro Denver area. With its prime access to Denver International Airport and major destinations around the city of Denver, the highway receives a significant amount of traffic. As the authority begins to phase out the antiquated tolling systems on the thruway, they desire to bring more conveniences and amenities to replace the former toll plazas. Currently, in order to stop for fuel, grab a bite to eat or use the restrooms, travelers must exit off the thruway into a community to access those types of services. Through a request for proposal posted in late 2019, the authority sought options for developing authority owned parcels into state-of-the-art service plazas.


Upland Architects partnered with Applegreen PLC to develop a design solution that reflected the architecture, history and landscape of the state of Colorado and represented the success and reputation of the Applegreen brand.  The proposal mapped out development concepts for eight parcels of land along the expressway each serving unique purposes in respect to their locations. After having been awarded the project by the Authority in early 2020, our team has been working extensively planning the development for the new E-470 Travel Hub Experience.


The proposed architectural concept is inspired by Colorado’s diverse landscape and environmental aesthetics - with flat, rolling prairies and rangelands set against a backdrop of the soaring and majestic Rocky Mountains - to create a convenient and welcoming moment to recharge, refuel and restock. Designing a unique customer experience that is dictated as equally by function as it is by form, is the driving force of the space. Our Travel Hub Experience incorporates high ceilings reminiscent of the great outdoors, a welcome center equipped with lifestyle amenities, and great food options that entice travelers on the way home, heading to work, or starting a weekend getaway.

Clean, not bland, new yet familiar, the buildings are dominated by glass and bold expression. The Travel Outlets are visually memorable beacons that dot the E-470. Natural daylight bathes the interior with clearstory windows reducing the need for indoor lighting during daylight hours and capitalizing on Denver’s 300 days of sunshine pear year. Sculpted roof lines that evoke the snow-capped terrain and imbue a high-alpine aura are reminiscent of a slope side mountain lodge. Materials are clever and varied, selected for durability and low maintenance requirements, particularly with respect to the climate of the sites. Interior spaces are open and bright, intentionally adjusted to create more- and less -intimate experiences, where product has its place and customers have theirs. 


The Travel Outlets are designed to be environmentally responsible to promote sustainability, reduce energy consumption, minimize greenhouse gas emissions, and met or exceed LEED minimum certification requirements. We are exploring a myriad of opportunities to innovate and incorporate leading-edge sustainability features within our design concept.


Inspired by the mountain and prairies, ubiquitous sunlit days and mile high energy – a quick moment to reflect, recharge and revitalize. Sensitive to their surroundings and clerestory lites that soak in the daylight and illuminate the interiors to give the customer a bright and open experience.

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