Project Highlight: Mariposa VII

Parasoleil Combines Beauty and Function for Denver Redevelopment Project

The Mariposa Phase VII, the final phase of the South Lincoln HOPE VI redevelopment project in Denver, is a 7-story apartment building with units reserved for the use of both senior and disabled persons. Part of one of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods, and bordering the Santa Fe Arts District, the University of Colorado Denver, Denver's Central Business District, and RTD's new Light Rail, the Mariposa building is a blend of new and old, and is the final piece in a two-decades long urban revitalization.  

The goal of the South Lincoln HOPE VI project was to create an energized transit community near downtown, characterized by sustainability, cultural diversity, and a full spectrum of housing options. With a total of 45 senior and disabled project-based voucher units and affordable units, the Mariposa Phase VII apartment building provides economic security and mobility for its tenants. The Mariposa project also offers the exciting opportunity for lower-income seniors from this community to age in place in a high-quality, new building with easy access to community amenities and transit.  

The project included installation of multiple elevators and stairwells required by code to accommodate the senior and disabled population. The challenge presented to Parasoleil was to enclose the outdoor stairwell in a creative and inspiring fashion to provide privacy screening, practical protection from the elements, and a memorable sense of place. Parasoleil partnered with Denver Housing Authority, architecture firm Humphries Poli, and construction firm I-Kota to design and install aluminum panels incorporating beautiful butterfly patterns that employ an artistic blend of light, shadows, and colors.  

With sustainability and healthy living driving the project, Parasoleil designed a unique set of panels for this project. The panels included two distinct patterns, each in a vastly different scale. The first was of Mariposa, a pattern inspired by butterfly wings, which provided privacy screening and protection from the elements on the stairwell, while also offering an engaging interplay of light and shadows. The second pattern was of larger butterfly, rotated to various angles. The colorful, larger butterflies offered a beautiful contrast to the Buffalo Dime finish chosen for the aluminum panels. 

The Mariposa pattern chosen for the panels offered additional safety and usability aspects for the stairwell. These included: 

  • The tightness of the pattern provided a sense of security in an outside, four-story staircase by making it feel enclosed and sturdy from within;
  • The repetition of an organic, continuous pattern threw shadows that are not linear and therefore didn’t cause any horizontal optical illusions which could have posed a tripping hazard in the stairwell;
  • The many, small cutouts in the Mariposa pattern allowed for protection from the elements, while still providing sufficient airflow to the stairwell during warmer days.

The Parasoleil panel system and custom designs on Mariposa VII offered a durable and practical, yet artistic and creative solution, to enclosing the stairwell. The fun shadow play and colors allowed for a pleasant interaction and viewing up close during the day, while also offering a beautiful installation to view up to a ¼-mile away while lit from inside the stairwell at night. This eye-catching architectural installation combined beauty and function, encouraging residents to take the stairs instead of the elevator and acting as an artistic focal point for a transit-oriented community.  

Parasoleil designs and manufactures unique laser-cut architectural metal panels that artistically filter and sculpt light. Engineered to withstand the elements, they are functional, durable, and warrantied to last. 

To learn more about pattern usage and Parasoleil’s line of proprietary patterns, visit