Five Franklin Place, Manhattan, New York, United States of America


Five Franklin Place was a 20-storey residential building planned in the Tribeca Historic Cast Iron District in Downtown Manhattan, New York City, US.

Designed by Dutch architects UNStudio, the 55-apartment high rise building was to feature a dramatic façade, made up of horizontal black iron ribbons of varied widths that wrap around the building.

The construction of Five Franklin Place was abondoned due to financial limitations. The developers completed part of the foundation and the lower-floor structure.

The site was acquired by the Israeli firm Fishman Holdings through a foreclosure auction in September 2011. The new owner is planning a 19-storey, 58-unit condominium at the site. The construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2012.

The originally planned building was inspired by a combination of Tribeca's 19th-century cast iron architecture and New York's couture fashion culture, the envelope of metal bands would have created a dramatic visual impression of the building from the outside, while also doubling as the structure's external functional elements of balconies, sunshades and terraces.

From within, the metal ribbings would have framed panoramic views of the Hudson River, East River and Manhattan Skyline, while the long planes of windows would maximise the light entering the building.

The programme of Five Franklin Place was to comprise three types of luxury condominiums, each with its own distinctive style, with fitness facilities located on the underground level.

The project was to become UNStudio and partner-in-charge Ben van Berkel's first major US-based project.

Five Franklin Place design

"The site was acquired by the Israeli firm Fishman Holdings through a foreclosure auction in September 2011. The new owner is planning a 19-storey, 58-unit condominium at the site."

The 210ft-high (64m) apartment complex was to occupy a 50ft by 150ft (15m×46m) site. Apartments range from one to four bedrooms (approximately 1,200ft² to 3,200ft²) and are configured as duplex loft or single-level homes.

They were divided into three distinct zones: levels two through to seven will house the Duplex Loft Residencies, City Residences occupy floors eight to 18 and Sky Penthouses occupy the top floors of the building. The three penthouses are 2,250ft² (209m²).

Van Berkel designed the interior of each apartment to reflect the soft curves of the external ribbons and maximise views to the outside. The bathrooms, for example, were designed to be opened up to the bedrooms through adjoining doors, clearing the way for city views from the spa bath.

In the loft residencies, ceiling heights were designed to be approximately 10ft, which was then to be doubled in the dual-level 'great room'. Connecting the lower floor with the loft was to be a disappearing staircase with integrated library wall.

The city residencies were planned to have balconies and terraces with paved surfaces, as well as glass bay windows with integrated seating and storage. The dual-level penthouses would have included such luxury design elements as a roof terrace, a cantilevered grand staircase wrapped around a custom cylindrical glass elevator and an outdoor stainless steel kitchen.

Designed on the below-ground level was the 1,949ft² recreation area, which would have been connected to the ground floor lobby via a grand staircase. The fitness centre was to house a workout room and a multipurpose yoga studio.

The adjacent spa suite was to feature a sauna, steam pavilion and women's and men's bathrooms. A double-height atrium was designed to travel from the fitness centre up to the lobby. Entry to the building was planned from Franklin Place, via automatic sliding low-iron tempered glass doors leading to the lavish 2,154ft² ground-floor lobby.

In total the apartments were to provide 134,644ft² of space with an additional 673ft² of storage and 3,286ft² for commercial purposes.

Unique apartment fixtures

UNStudio have carefully designed the interior of each apartment, working in collaboration with interior design engineers B&B Italia who had to manufacture the residencies' unique fixtures. Each of the three apartment styles was to feature different furnishings, colour schemes and materials palettes, depending on the amount of light entering the rooms.

On the lower levels, Van Berkel maximised the sense of light by using reflective, light-coloured surfaces. On the middle levels, a creamier colour scheme was to be used, and in the penthouses, where light is abundant, white details were to be contrasted with rich brown elements.

"The construction of Five Franklin Place was abondoned due to financial limitations. The developers completed part of the foundation and the lower-floor structure."

Common furnishing themes throughout the building would have included UNStudio-designed signature kitchens and bathrooms, oiled European oak hardwood flooring, custom closet systems and curvilinear hardware by Australian designer Marc Newson.

The penthouses were to include a UNStudio-designed recessed dual-fuel gas / wood-burning fireplace, and their rooftop entertainment areas would have been floored with Ipe decking and sunken cross-cut white travertine pavers.

The lower-level recreation area was planned likewise to spare no expense. The spa suite was to feature night-blue glass mosaic tile walls, a sauna decked in Abachi wood, thermal baths and a steam room with custom fittings and glass mosaic adornments.

In the lobby, a polished violet glass-chipped mosaic floor would have been used in contrast with glossy white-lacquered panel walls. Residents were intended to move between levels via glass elevator cabs with translucent white backlit ceilings and black granite floors.

As part of the project Franklin Place was to be fully restored, which would have involved vertical landscaping and lighting designs that would evoke the atmosphere of New York in the 19th century.

The building foundations were designed to be based on a 4.5ft-thick uniform mat slab, with caissons situated in the frontal portion of the building. The superstructure would have comprised columns and 10ft structural slabs made of cast-in-place reinforced concrete, as is the centralised shear structure.

The building envelope was to consist of a unitised aluminum curtain wall system with integrated architectural metal banding.