Denver Bonnie Brae, the Belcaro Neighborhood, and the Audi A6
Denver’s Bonnie Brae Area and Belcaro Neighborhood: Beauty with a Bauhaus Flourish
Nestled between Cherry Creek and Washington Park, Denver’s Belcaro neighborhood extends west to east from University to Colorado Boulevards. The Cherry Creek acts as its natural northern border, and Mississippi Avenue is the area’s southern limit.
Bonnie Brae, which is a Scottish phrase for “pleasant hill,” is a subsection of the Belcaro neighborhood. It shares its western and southern border with Belcaro proper; but its northern limit is Exposition Avenue, and it’s eastern edge extends to Steele Street.
The Belcaro and Bonnie Brae areas were “developed in the 1920’s on land that had been granted to the Kansas Pacific Railroad in 1870.” According to the Bonnie Brae neighborhood association’s website, the 1920s development commenced when Denver businessman George W. Olinger began accumulating property in the area.
Soon thereafter, he hired “noted landscape architect Saco DeBoer to design the street system.” The neighborhood’s roads are a noteworthy feature, at least to the extent that most of Denver’s roads follow a grid pattern. The streets in the Belcaro/Bonnie Brae neighborhood, though, use “the land’s topography and natural beauty” to dictate their position and direction. Thus, they curve and wend in a less geometrical fashion.
While Olinger’s land grab served to jump start development and construction in the area, The Phipps Mansion is the community’s namesake. Lawrence Cowle Phipps, a U.S. Senator for the state of Colorado from 1919 until 1931, built his private residence in the neighborhood between 1931 and 1933. The Senator nicknamed his house Belcaro, which is Italian for the phrase “Dear One.” Afterward, Phipps created the Phipps’ Belcaro Realty and Investment Company in order to develop more thoroughly the surrounding area. Scott Miller and Tim Gill, who run the LGBT-rights organization the Gill Foundation, now own the mansion.
In addition to the layout of its thoroughfares, another unique feature of the neighborhood are a handful of houses constructed in the International and Bauhaus styles. As the Bonnie Brae Association’s website explains:
The 1920’s and 1930’s were exciting eras in the field of architectural design. In Europe, architects and designers were experimenting with bold new styles that later became known as Art Moderne and the International Style. Traditional notions of symmetry and decorative ornament exemplified by Neoclassic and Victorian designs were rejected, while new materials and technological advances enabled innovations in architectural compositions. The International materials and technological advances enabled innovations in architectural compositions. The International Style, as expressed by architects of the Bauhaus School in Germany, focused primarily on a building’s function with the idea that “less is more.” Art Moderne structures used classic elements in new ways, emphasizing horizontal lines and softening angles with curved corners.
Given that the much of the neighborhood’s construction occurred during the 1930s and 1940s, plenty of residences were built in these styles. While many of these older structures subsequently have been razed to accommodate new homes, several of these gorgeous houses still exist and function as monuments to this notable, architectural era.
Nowadays, Belcaro serves as the home to some of Denver’s most well-to-do residents. And, as 5280 Magazine notes, the neighborhood provides residents with “leafy streets…filled with well-maintained Tudor and ranch-style homes constructed in the 1960s and 1970s as well as newer builds on expansive lots.” Moreover, the community is “one of the safest spots in city,” based upon official crime-rates.
The Belcaro Park Homeowners Assocaition’s website also mentions the community’s “park-like setting,” which sports “tall spruce trees [that] create an expansive tree canopy” for an idyllic, semi-urban experience. Bonnie Brae Park, formerly Ellipse Park, acts as a natural center-piece for the area. And, if that’s not enough, several locally-owned restaurants, bars, boutique retailers, and cultural attractions line University Boulevard along the neighborhood’s western edge.
The Audi A6: Beauty in the Bauhaus Form
In a car comparison I wrote earlier in the year, I noted that Audi design “stemmed from the Bauhaus Movement,” which fostered a “Teutonic style” that married “highly-engineered cars” with aesthetic beauty in order to create superior driving machines. Furthermore, I mentioned that:
Bauhaus, as an artistic movement, sought to yoke “fine art and craft” with the purpose of “problem solving for a modern industrial society.” And the “problem” that Bauhaus was attempting to solve, vis-a-vis “modern industrial society” was the perceived “soullessness of manufacturing and its products” coupled with anxiety regarding “art’s loss of purpose” in daily life. To this end, artists who subscribed to this movement wanted to meld industry and craft with high art, in essence making them indistinguishable. Aesthetically, Bauhaus design focused on “simplified, geometric forms that allowed new designs to be reproduced with ease.”
The Bauhaus architecture found within Denver’s Belcaro neighborhood, then, seemingly would pair well with any Audi vehicle. But, having said that, there is one model that pairs particularly well, given its perfect blend of aesthetics, luxury, and functionality. That model would be the Audi A6.
Why does the Audi A6 “fit the bill,” as the kids say? For starters, Kelley Blue Book says that “if you demand high-quality interior and the best navigation system currently available on the market, the 2016 Audi A6 sedan is for you.” Audi’s use of high-quality materials and luxurious style, coupled with “problem solving” tools like nav-systems and GPS not only embodies the Bauhaus aesthetic, but also provides drivers with a midsize luxury sedan whose “sterling reputation” tops a market segment loaded with “stiff competition.”
And it would seem that most reviewers would agree. Auto Trader, for instance, calls the Audi A6 a “strong competitor delivering a good combination of performance and comfort,” praising the vehicle which boasts “the latest in many gadgets, from safety features to high-tech options such as a 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, quad-zone climate control and a night-vision assistant.”
CNet claims that the 2016 Audi A6 is an “extraordinarily well-mannered car, comfortable for the everyday commute and capable on country roads, with a full course of connected cabin technology putting useful driving and location information at your fingertips.” Moreover, the ride is so smooth that it “crosses speed limits before [you] notice, feeling pretty much the same at 35 mph as at 70 mph.” The CNet reviewer, ultimately, distills the driving experience of the A6 down to the following assessment: “The car just goes well, very well.”
And, if those recommendations weren’t enough, Edmunds argues that the Audi A6 owns “some of the sharpest lines in the business,” which would enable it to “get by on looks alone.” Of course, that’s not the case; because, in fact, the vehicle offers plenty more of, well, everything. “Dig deeper,” the review says, “and you’ll find a midsize luxury sedan that excels at almost everything.” The review goes on to explain in more depth what “everything” entails when he writes: “The interior feels like an upscale hotel lounge, the entertainment and safety tech is cutting-edge and it’s a blast to drive hard when the road gets tight and winding. The A6 is among the best in the class.”
Finally, The Car Connection argues that the Audi A6 “was a very good car, but the 2016 model year takes the brand’s refinements, improvements, iterate theory and applies it yet again. The net result is a car that’s simply better in most of the ways that matter.” And, similarly, Car and Driver claims that the small but important alterations to the 2016 model “will help Audi stay at the top of the game in [the] fiercely competitive market” that is the midsize, luxury sedan.
Yes, anyway you slice it, the Audi A6 is a winner: a smooth ride with exceptional handling, a luxurious cabin replete with cutting-edge technology, and the refined, Bauhaus-influenced beauty of the German design language. Indeed, this is a can’t miss offering.
Prestige Imports: The Local Audi Dealer for Denver’s Bonnie Brae and Belcaro Neighborhood Residents
If you’re looking to purchase a Bauhaus beauty, such as the Audi A6, stop by Prestige Imports at 9201 West Colfax Avenue. We’re located between Wadsworth and Kipling. As Denver’s oldest Porsche/Audi dealership, we’re the most trusted purveyor of the German design language along the Front Range.
You can also call one of our Audi Brand Specialists at (833) 825-5423 to schedule an appointment. In the interim, visit our website to check out all the Audi A6 models we have in-stock.
Once you purchase, finance, or lease an Audi A6 with us, drive your new ride into the Belcaro and Bonnie Brae neighborhoods and stop by one of these local businesses.
Bars: Bonnie Brae Tavern, Campus Lounge, 730 South
Restaurants: Bonnie Brae Ice Cream, Katherine’s French Bakery, Saucy Noodle, Grillin Wings & Things, Osaka Sushi
Coffee Shops: Ink!, Dazbog
Boutique Retailers: Pink’s, Salon Raspanti, Mike’s Camera, Wish Boutique, Dive Flag Jewelry, Blondies
Banner image by Ken Lund, courtesy of Creative Commons
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