Shorewood - For Pat Algiers, every room and every building should feel special and have meaning within its environment.
A licensed real estate broker, interior designer and a certified new urbanist, Algiers started her career designing spaces for Boston Store and Wisconsin Telephone Company. She eventually became a principal at Kahler Slater, an architecture and interior design firm, where she developed the "Live Work Play" study analyzing economic opportunities in downtown Milwaukee.
That experience, as well as a brief stint as the interim commissioner of Milwaukee's Department of City Development in 2004, opened her eyes to the role of "placemaking" on the community level. She envisions communities as places where people live, work and play in an environment that is authentic.
"The live, work, play of the future - through placemaking - is safe neighborhoods where there is employment in the immediate area, where people come together with hubs of activity that are authentic to their particular area," she said.
These days, Algiers has been focusing her placemaking efforts right here in Shorewood, where she serves on the Shorewood Public Art Committee and the Shorewood Business Improvement District board. She has led the way on the "Ghost Train" public art exhibit on the Oak Leaf Trail pedestrian bridge. The "Ghost Train," which will debut on Halloween, will create the illusion of the long-terminated Chicago and North Western 400 and 401 trains traveling across the bridge twice per night.
The "headquarters" of all Ghost Train activity is at Algiers' Chemistry in Place consulting firm. She formed the business in 2002, and two years ago she moved the growing firm from her home into a storefront at 1712 E. Capitol Drive. The business combines her expertise in real estate, interior design, architecture, marketing and branding under one roof.
"When we design our clients' space, we work with them to leverage their investment in the physical space through marketing and branding," she said.
Chemistry in Place has clients of all sizes from all over the country. The company worked with Quarles and Brady in nine of their offices and recently redesigned the law firm's offices in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C., with photographic artwork from local students at Indiana University and George Washington University, respectively.
Chemistry in Place is subdivided into specialty areas: office redesigns, real estate locational studies and brokerage, brand equity solutions and residential transitioning. As an example of some of their non-corporate work, Chemistry in Place has helped seniors downsize into luxury apartments and has also designed a “live/work” suite for a Silicon Valley engineer who lives in the Kettle Moraine.
Just as location is everything in real estate, Shorewood is of great importance to Algiers. She enjoys thinking about how the small, densely-populated village can best represent the diverse range of people who live here. Pulling out a map of potential future locations for public art exhibits in the village, she enjoys collaborating with the Public Art Committee and the Shorewood Historical Society about ways to pay tribute to the village's rich historical past through public art.
In her office on Capitol Drive, visitors stop and pose for photos in an old English telephone booth, which just happens to be manufactured by a company in Milwaukee. For Algiers, the office is just another example of "chemistry in place."
"We walk to coffee at Stone Creek or get lunch at Sendik's and run into people on the street," she said. "When you have an office in a small town like Shorewood - I call Shorewood a small town - you actually feel like you live somewhere."