Ken Schapira: Fabricating quality, one project at a time

Ken Schapira, owner of North Standard Fabrication and Construction, LLC, specializes in solving creative structural problems. “When artist Jeff Carpenter wanted to flood an entire art gallery in the Crane Arts Building with eight inches of water, I collaborated with a structural engineer to waterproof the entire floor,” said Schapira. “People were given boots to view the installation. That was fun!” 

However, most of Schapira’s clients these days are in the restaurant and hospitality business for whom he provides higher-end wood and metal fabrication services. “I’m currently creating 3-D signage and building a bar out of copper and brass for the renovation of a Fishtown restaurant. One of the perks? “I got to taste everything on their new menu,” he said. Schapira is also adding his unique touch to a new Spring Garden District eatery. “I’m using a lot of steel, wood, and glass in the interior and exterior,” he said.

Schapira is originally from Staten Island, and purchased his first house in Philadelphia in 2006 in East Kensington from Solo Real Estate. This original connection soon turned into a long-term working relationship. “I started working as a general contractor with Solo’s property management services, doing kitchens and bathrooms,” he said.

His largest project for Solo Real Estate was through his former partnership with Anthony Giacobbe under the name Red Oak Development, building Kensington Yards, Solo’s fourteen-unit residential development. The project was developed by Alejandro Franqui, along with the architects at Bright Common and landscape designers at Apiary Studio, Kensington Yards combined historic preservation with new construction. Schapira’s used reclaimed wood throughout the property and built contemporary metal staircases and half-moon window frames.

Ken Schapira worked on building Kensington Yards, Solo's most recent development project.
Ken Schapira worked on building Kensington Yards, Solo’s most recent development project.

“I’ve never met a contractor more committed to delivering a high quality finished product,” said Franqui. “Not only does Ken do excellent work, he has a style and sensibility that I think is lacking in many, if not most, new construction and renovation projects. Ken’s work is anything but cookie-cutter.” 

Deborah Solo, owner of Solo Real Estate, said, “Working with Ken on Kensington Yards was an incredible learning experience. He helped us make something we could all be very proud of.  In every instance, he enabled us to get something extra special with the finished product.”

It is one of Schapira’s more unique projects that landed him in the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I used a computer-generated plasma-cutting machine to create a metal gate in Kensington featuring intricate scrollwork and Danny DeVito’s face,” he said. Why DeVito?  Schapira wanted to give people something to smile about during the pandemic. 

Custom alley gate in Kensington featuring Danny DeVito's face.
Custom alley gate in Kensington featuring Danny DeVito’s face.

CNC plasma cutting involves cutting through electrically conductive materials by utilizing an accelerated jet of hot plasma that is directed right at the material being cut. Steel, aluminum, brass, and copper are only a handful of the types of materials that are often cut with this method.“ The technology has been around for twenty years, but it used to be ridiculously expensive, out of reach for the average fabrication company. I have only owned one machine for years,” he said.

A custom table designed and built by North Standard Fabrication and Construction
A custom table designed and built by North Standard Fabrication and Construction.

Schapira’s versatility is impressive, including furniture and custom light fixtures. “We have a full fabrication studio with the resources for woodworking, welding, CNC plasma cutting projects, and more. Ken Schapira’s company, North Standard Fabrication and Construction is located at 2321 Emerald Street Philadelphia, PA 12129. For project inquiries, you can reach out to North Standard on the contact us form on their website: https://www.northstandardphl.com/contact

Ken Schapira: Fabricating Quality, one project at a time
Ken Schapira from North Standard Fabrication and Construction. Photo by Jordan Baumgarten.