Nearly a century has passed since the Benjamin Franklin Hotel opened in 1925, but the Horace Trumbauer-designed property, at 8th and Chestnut, still has physical links to the past, albeit with luxurious updates.
Thanks to the $13 million restoration and renovation by Korman Communities, the building, now known as AKA Washington Square, is an upscale lifestyle-centric apartment and extended stay residence.
The former hotel’s lobby, once occupied by presidents and dignitaries, was Korman Communities’ —who acquired the building in 2011— first order of business.
“It became a major focal point for us in terms of bringing the property back to life,” says Kathy Ragg, Senior VP of Korman Communities.
In revitalizing the lobby, the design team examined photos and renderings of the space from 1930s-1950s in addition to preserving the original ceiling. They used chemical analysis to determine the exact color paint that was when the building was constructe to give an elegant, authentic feel. However, they added tons of modern updates like a fountain, live music Wednesdays through Saturday nights and comfortable seating areas.
“The design team did an amazing job with bringing [the lobby] back to life that incorporates today’s more modern lifestyle,” says Ragg. “It’s not your grandmother’s lobby.”
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While the lobby is for residents and their guests only, AKA Washington Square will soon feature amenities open to the public. A restaurant—with a still unnamed big name local chef at the helm—and public lounge lobby will be open late spring-early summer this year, says Ragg.
Additional renovations that will be open to the public include: the Franklin ballroom, where scenes from “Silver Linings Playbook” were filmed.
“It’s the lifestyle and experience like no other in Philadelphia,” says Ragg.