When Ben van Berkel of UNStudio first unveiled his vision for Five Franklin Place, the elaborate façade of layered strips offered a dynamic picture of what TriBeCa’s newest architectural creation could be.
A contemporary take of the area’s traditional metal facades of the 19th century, the 20 storey residential tower incorporated a series of metal bans that became the building’s trademark. The black undulating lines served more than a mere aesthetic as they branched from the building’s vertical plane to become spatial entities – providing balconies for residents, and even dual functioning as sun screens.
Yet, as the realities of the Global Financial Crisis reverberate on all corners of the glove in some shape or form, van Berkel’s artistic vision may quickly be coming to a halt.
The project began construction in the midst of the recession, causing it to be stalled just after it measured two stories. Currently, distressed properties specialist Bill Procida of Procida Advisors has been called onto the job to scale down the design. Exactly what is going to be scaled down is unclear, and the concern is that the building will most likely lose most of its architectural merit.
It must, however, be noted that Procida was able to get the financing for the tower back on track. The situation speaks to the dilemma of architecture and keeping within budget – a long struggle that the field has been subject to.
Therein lies the inherent push and pull between architectural integrity and financial reality.