The new international headquarters of the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) held its grand opening Feb. 28 in Mule Alley, part of the historic Fort Worth Stockyards.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, along with Texas Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller and APHA member and multiple world champion, welcomed APHA friends, supporters, community leaders and other visitors as they celebrated the new headquarters of the world’s second-largest equine breed association.
APHA was the first business to open on Mule Alley in the Fort Worth Stockyards, with staff serving customers on Jan. 6. The official grand opening celebration took place Feb. 28 in conjunction with the association’s annual convention. The APHA announced in 2017 it would move its 45-member staff from its 40,000 square-foot office building at 2800 Meacham Road in Fort Worth to the 11,252 square-foot build-to-suit Horse and Mule barns. The building was constructed in 1912 and will double as its corporate office and a retail shop in the heart of the Stockyards.
The new APHA office space is in one of the Stockyards’ renovated mule barns. The structures were built in 1912 and housed the area’s horses and mules for decades. The barns were renovated by Majestic Realty and the Hickman Group, part of a 70-acre revitalization of the Stockyards area. In addition to housing APHA, Mule Alley will feature numerous restaurants, retail and corporate office space.
The new APHA headquarters features a retail store full of Paint Horse merchandise; a grain-bin theater designed to immerse visitors in Paint Horse experiences; historical Paint Horse artifacts; The Rebecca Baker Legacy Loft, which honors APHA’s Hall of Fame and history; and a full office space for APHA staff to serve member needs.
“This marks the start of new opportunities for the American Paint Horse Association and the Paint Horse breed,” Executive Director Billy Smith said. “APHA is officially open for business in the Fort Worth Stockyards. All APHA members and friends are encouraged to come experience the new era of the American Paint Horse.”
“APHA has such a strong brand beginning with the culture and lifestyle of their members and employees, that there is truly no better place than the Stockyards for their office to reside,” said Marissa Tang, interior designer, VLK Architects, who designed the new offices. “The historic nature of the barn allowed us to incorporate APHA’s own story into the interior design seamlessly. As a bonus, this new location will also bring foot traffic to the retail storefront and offers a new walkable experience for visiting members.”
The design showcases the APHA’s aesthetic by utilizing the barn’s existing clerestories (a high section of wall that contains windows, usually above eye level), exposed ceilings, original clay tiles, and exposed brick walls. Design elements such as sliding barn doors, industrial steel finishes, reclaimed wood, concrete floors, natural textiles and art with accent colors derived from paint horse scenery, and even a grain bin theater and stair were intentionally incorporated. Designers preserved elements from the historical structures in the design of the space, including the original brick, metal fire doors in the loft space, distinctive concrete and metal columns, and other elements.