Frank’s place, originally known as the “Bosman Building” was, according to Clive Chipkin, designed in the 1950’s by H.W.E. Stauch & Partners, along with its neighbour Medical City, forming a consistent modern townscape on opposite sides of Eloff street at the Bree Street intersection (now Lilian Ngoyi street). The podiums of both buildings were under construction in 1955-6 and the tower portion of the buildings were built from 1963-4.
According to Chipkin, the events associated with the country’s turbulent political past during the 1950s and 1960s, are all manifested in the history of the design and construction of the Bosman Building. Chipkin shows how the proponents of apartheid willy-nilly came to have a hand in the development of the Bosman Building, largely as a consequence of trying to make their mark against the forces opposing the former apartheid regime.
The building is of both cultural and architectural significance in the city of Johannesburg and can be seen as a monument to the achievements of the developing property group, African City Properties Trust (1952) Ltd. That developed the building and many other in the city of Johannesburg. During 1990’s and early 2000’s exodus of businesses from the Johannesburg CBD left the building derelict and infested with pigeons.
In 2013, City Property along with Gass Architecture Studios embarked on a mission to restore and repurpose the building. On the ground level of the building, the retail component was renewed, introducing new shopfronts and roller grills. The aim was to improve the pedestrian experience both during the day and at night. Above street level, Frank’s place offers two levels of parking for residents that is surrounded by a perforated aluminium screen. The podium level (above parking) is a 980m² space which serves as the entertainment and relaxation area, including a play area for children complete with a custom designed jungle gym, table tennis tables, braai facilities and a basketball half-court. The residential component of the building consists of 20 floors of apartments. The main constraint of the project was that the floor slabs were not capable of carrying the weight of brickwork as partitions between units. A lightweight walling system called Imison was used throughout the building as internal dividing walls and, in certain areas as exterior wall panels.
Overall, the refurbishment of buildings in the CBD are essential for creating safer and healthier environments in the CBD and for the creating of better and affordable housing opportunities for the people of Johannesburg. Gass architecture studios believe that the starting point for development in the CBD should be improving the experience of the city on a pedestrian level, and Frank’s place is a prime example of this.
With great pride we can announce that Frank’s Place has been awarded the SAPOA Award for Residential Developments at the 50th SAPOA convention. Thanks to City Properties for trusting GASS Architecture Studios with the design of this project and sharing our passion for urban renewal.