The six-story, 193,000-square-foot, brick-masonry structure – Fortress – is one of Milwaukee’s most recognizable historic buildings. Originally built in 1892, Fortress saw many additions in the years leading up to 1912. The result is a distinct, red brick building with unique architectural flourishes and a tower feature that is reminiscent of a medieval fortress.
The building’s original tenant was the F. Mayer Boot and Shoe Company, which at its peak produced over 9,000 shoes per day. Now, after more than a century and significant renovations, Fortress is home to 132 apartments that are imbued with historic character, including exposed brick walls, heavy-timber ceilings and expansive windows with stunning views of downtown Milwaukee and the skyline.
Kahler Slater was selected by Fortress developer, Alexander Company, to provide extensive interior design services for the common amenity spaces. Transforming these spaces into vibrant gathering environments while honoring the building’s historical authenticity was key to the design’s success. Kahler Slater’s scope encompassed the selection of interior finishes, lighting, furniture, artwork, and even creative design for several adaptive reuse pieces that were uncovered during construction.
One of the most notable impacts of our work was the selection of furniture that aligned with the spacial and historical characteristics of the project. The design intent was to choose commercial grade pieces that would properly stand the test of time while demonstrating how historic charm can complement modern convenience. As a result, the Community Room has become a great environment for residents to spend time together or reserve for family reunions, baby and bridal showers, graduation parties, etc. With direct access from the Community Room to the spacious private courtyard, furnished with outdoor furniture and grills, tenants can even have “indoor-outdoor” living experience.