As a solution to the construction productivity conundrum, pre-fabricated and modular designs have seen a rise in popularity and media coverage over the past few years. Constructed offsite in a Lego-like fashion, modular buildings use lean manufacturing techniques to pre-fabricate buildings in deliverable sections, sometimes forgoing the traditional pouring and forming of concrete done onsite where concrete form rentals are used.
While these designs are increasing, they still require rigorous logistical planning and on-route coordination to deliver and piece together and permit no margin of error on behalf of those designing offsite.
In New York City and Boston, modular buildings are on the rise, quite literally. What exactly are the advantages that supporters of this method cite, and how do these two case-studies contribute to our understanding of the state of pre-fabricated modular design? This article will cover just that, and allow the reader to draw their own conclusions as to this method’s utility.
The World’s Tallest Modular Hotel in The Empire State
(source: Archinect Article)
Danny Forster boasts that his company’s design for the 26-story AC Hotel New York NoMad can be constructed at a rate of an entire floor a day. He also believes that modular building can do more than harness the efficiency of the factory; it can also produce a graceful and iconic structure to match Manhattan’s other pristine high-rises.
In what will be the world’s largest modular hotel, Marriott International Inc. hopes its building will spearhead a new movement of prefabricated skyscrapers constructed offsite and pieced together on location. The $65 million hotel is currently being assembled in Poland, and will ship to New York City in the middle of the night when the streets are less congested.
Besides the restaurant and lobby, the hotel will be completely pre-fabricated, with the rooftop bar and guest rooms set for modular construction. The average length of constructing a multifamily apartment building after authorization is 11.7 months, according to the 2014 Survey of Construction conducted by the Census Bureau. In comparison, the AC Hotel New York NoMad is scheduled for construction over a 90-day period, a timespan nearly one fourth of this national (and generous) average. Indeed, efficiency seems to be the primary motivator in the case of the World’s Tallest Modular Hotel, with bustling New York City seen as the perfect place to showcase the merits of pre-fabricated technology.
Modular Units as Boston’s Solution To The Housing Crisis
(source: CBS Boston)
Seven miles west of downtown Boston, one company is offering modular design and construction as a solution to the area’s affordable housing crisis. Constructed in Canada and assembled onsite, the Newtonville complex will showcase the modular methods of Greenstaxx, the construction company behind the project.
According to Gwen Noyes, COO, Greenstaxx’s methods are faster, higher quality, greener, and are constructed at an economical rate. Affordable housing is a major issue in the area, but according to Noyes, the solution is in sight through modular variants of contemporary structures such as the triple decker.
Greenstaxx has since submitted a proposal to the city of Boston to develop a modular, three-family house on city-owned land to showcase the merits of this construction method.
As these two case studies have pointed out, the benefits of modular construction are seen as economic and efficient, or so the proponents of this method proclaim. How exactly pre-fabricated and modular techniques will be implemented on a larger scale, and how this method will affect companies in the construction industry remains to be seen. For now, it appears traditional construction remains more feasible (as well as familiar), at least while this method of construction is in its infancy. The good news is that at Forming America, we have been proponents of efficiency since our humble beginnings. Our concrete forms are prefabricated, making on-site building that much easier. Contact us today to learn more about our concrete forms.