When Ken Schaefer found the old three-story red brick, retired apartment building on West Magnolia Avenue, he saw past the asbestos, broken windows and water damage. It was love at first sight.
The building would become a metaphor for his company’s philosophy as an advertising agency, which is to build on what his clients have already accomplished.
“We help them uncover what is good and true about their brand and then amplify that for them in a way that helps grow their business. That’s authentic. That’s the Schaefer way,” Principal Ken Schaefer said.
Schaefer’s father was a civil engineer and his sister an architect with TerraLogos Eco Architecture in Baltimore.
“This building allowed me to tap into that inspiration that I had heard my whole life,” he said.
Schaefer recruited his sister and Michael Duwe with Restoration Homes Fort Worth for the project. The building needed to be gutted, but Schaefer didn’t want to throw anything away. So his design team repurposed old wood and brick from the ripped out walls, creating new walls. He moved fireplaces to more functional spots by taking them apart, brick by brick, and rebuilding them. If that doesn’t show you the respect he and his sister have for historical structures, then this will — Schaefer even made a lamp from hotwire covers that came from knob and tube wiring in the former interior. He has in-surmountable amounts of respect for what came before and what will come after.
“We wanted to find a building that was historically and architecturally significant…. This building has so much rich history that we are nothing more than a chapter in the history of this building. This building is also a chapter in Schaefer Advertising,” Schaefer said.
Civic history aside, Schaefer’s favorite feature is the elevator. Every inch of its doors is covered in coins from places his parents lived as missionaries, reminding him of his own legacy.
His offices take all three stories of this former apartment complex. Each floor of the old apartment building had its own balcony, which were reborn into informal outdoor workspaces at Schaefer’s new office. You could easily find Schaefer out there on the phone on any given (pretty) day.
Although the interior looks entirely different than the abandoned building there before, it feels like it has been that way forever. It’s warm, inviting and inspiring. It doesn’t look new, yet it has a fresh and innovative appeal.
“We were able to keep a lot of the character without compromising the new functionality,” Kim Schaefer, AIA, said.
Schaefer also loves that Fort Worth has remained a “one-phonecall town” although it is a big city and growing. He decided to move his company to Fort Worth, instead of Dallas, from Arlington and has been in that building since March 2011. He couldn’t be happier, and it shows on his countenance.
In a culture fascinated with the “new,” Schaefer wanted to find a legacy and build on it. He accomplished this not only with his building, but also by being in the historic and redeveloping near Southside of Fort Worth.
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