This October, Andrews McMeel Universal celebrates the 10th anniversary of its move from the Country Club Plaza to the Boley Building. It is hard to overestimate the burgeoning growth and vitality of the downtown area since the move. Thanks to companies like AMU and H&R Block, downtown Kansas City enjoys a renewed energy and economic livelihood that would have been hard to imagine in 2006, when forward-thinking leadership committed to AMU’s relocation.
At the time of the move, Chairman Hugh Andrews noted: “The Boley Building is a perfect fit for us. It complements the unique nature of our business — at its core a communications, media and entertainment company — and provides an imaginative, lively environment. We admire and respect its architectural and historic significance, and are pleased that AMU is responsible for enlivening its walls once again.”
It wasn’t an easy endeavor. Entire sections of the six-story building were in disrepair. AMU enlisted Helix Architecture + Design Inc. and McCown Gordon Construction to restore the century-old landmark. It took almost a year to successfully breathe new life into the historic building, preserving a piece of KC’s legacy to help revitalize our urban core.
AMU’s restoration of and move to the Boley at the forefront of the revitalization is yet another example of the company’s approach, and the secret to its long-term success. “We are a media company that has pioneered products and services,” Co-Founder John McMeel said. “We take pride in being ahead of the curve in this industry, a trendsetter, and we wanted our new office to reflect that philosophy. We restored this 110-year-old building into a vibrant space filled with creative energy and vitality, which now lends itself to a very collaborative work environment.”
Designed by Louis S. Curtiss and built in 1909, the design of the Boley Building is significant, as it is the one of the earliest examples of metal-glass curtain wall construction in the world. With this design, it appears that a transparent glass wall encloses the structure of the building, as opposed to the building supporting the windows. The façade is made up of more than 15,000 square feet of glass. The pioneering technology developed to build this structure is now replicated in what we know as modern skyscrapers. The Boley was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
In addition to its architectural significance, its history includes the fact that the building was once partially owned by Mary McAfee Atkins. The sale proceeds of her portion of the Boley Building (in 1915) and other properties were later incorporated with those of William Rockhill Nelson to create what is now the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Another interesting historical note: Charles Boley, who had the building designed and constructed to house his clothing business, was formerly a newspaper editor.