Posts tagged with "modular construction":

Placeholder Alt Text

Hilton building a San Francisco-area hotel using modular construction

Modular construction is continuing its slow rise across the U.S. Last week Hilton publicized that its forthcoming mid-range Home2 Suites hotel in South San Francisco is being built using the technique. At a press event, officials watched cranes raise building modules into place on the hotel's site near the San Francisco International Airport. Hilton says that the hotel will be built faster thanks to off-site fabrication. Hilton is not the first hotel chain to experiment modular construction. Last year Marriott announced that they would be using the method to build their new hotels in the U.S., and hotels in Europe have been using modular construction for years. According to Hilton, this would, however, be the first hotel to use modular construction in the Bay Area, a region that has shown interest in adopting the construction technique more generally. Last year Google's parent company, Alphabet, announced that they would use modular construction to build housing on their growing Silicon Valley campus. Modular construction has had a rocky record in the U.S. While more companies and city governments are exploring it, high-profile debacles like the B2 tower designed by SHoP Architects have tempered momentum. According to a modular builder quoted in a 2017 USA Today article, the technique still composes only about three percent of all construction starts in North America. Hotels, with their arrays of repetitive units, make a natural fit for modular construction, which takes advantage of economies of scale to reduce costs. Hilton says that they were able to halve construction time for their new hotel and that it was built considerably faster than comparable non-modular projects in the area. They have not indicated whether they intend to continue using the strategy going forward.
Placeholder Alt Text

Katerra promises to transform the construction industry without sacrificing design

“Every building shouldn’t be a one-off prototype.” That’s an underlying and provocative premise behind Katerra, a technology company that’s on a mission to optimize the way buildings are developed, designed, and constructed. Truth be told, the industry is primed for an overhaul. Construction companies traditionally invest less than 1 percent of revenue in new technologies—lower than every other major industry, according to the company’s literature. As a result, simultaneous productivity decreases and cost increases during the last several decades have created a quandary that requires fresh thinking and outside-of-the-box solutions. “The one thing that’s become very apparent is that—and this is typical in an up-cycle—it’s very difficult for architects and contractors to keep up with material costs, with cost escalation in these upturn markets,” explained Craig Curtis, FAIA, Architecture, Interior Design at Katerra. “And if you couple that with the fact that the skilled labor shortage is becoming more and more critical, where we’re headed right now as an industry I think is kind of a train wreck.” To help avert such a debacle, Katerra is completely rethinking the existing construction model and replacing it with technology, design, and supply chain innovations that aim to revolutionize the world of architecture and construction.

 The Silicon Valley Approach to Building

“What we’re trying to do is take on every aspect of the entire process as the Silicon Valley way of looking at an industry so that it’s not just focused on supply chain, which is where we started,” Curtis explained. “We’re really looking at from initial site concepts to own the process all the way through design, through component design, manufacturing drawings, offsite manufacturing, and final site assembly—the entire package all in one with one hand to shake.” [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyoTBNLaXAg] For those who cringe at the term “mass customization” and shudder at the thought of a skyline full of banal, indistinguishable prefabricated structures, take heart: Katerra is, at its core, a company in the business of preserving and improving the design process, rather than dismantling it. “We’re a design-first company here,” Curtis noted. “This is not a company that is producing cookie-cutter-looking buildings; the cookie-cutting part of what we’re doing is all stuff that can easily be redundant without affecting the beauty of the architecture,” he continued. “So, we’re really concentrating on making sure that everything we do allows for that customization of not only the experience inside, but also how the building fits into a particular culture or climate or place.” In other words, Katerra does not build prefabricated modules or completed hotel room pods, for example, and truck them down the highway on a flatbed. Rather, Curtis said the company takes a cue from global furniture giant IKEA to flat-pack building materials and interior components to improve logistics and reduce shipping costs. By doing so, it offers greater flexibility in the final look and feel of a building and allows architects to do more of what they do best—not less. “By optimizing a lot of the interior and the systems that are within these buildings, we’re actually finding that as architects, we have more time to spend instead of less time to spend on the thing that really matters and that’s: What does the building look like and how does it fit into a community?” Curtis said. “We’re not spending all that time redrawing bathrooms or mechanical systems or electrical layouts because that’s done; it’s repetitive. A lot of that work can be done in the computer,” he added.

Executing the Design

Katerra operates under another premise as well: “A transformative approach to building begins with design.” As such, the company developed a novel building system to strike a balance between standardization and configuration. Based upon a standard kit of parts, Katerra’s design system utilizes structural building components and curated interior products and finishes to create a multitude of elegant, custom configurations, according to company literature. Katerra’s BIM modeling links directly to its global supply chain through proprietary technology to ensure ease of ordering, tracking, and manufacturing. Its integrated logistic network, global product sourcing, and manufacturing teams reduce the number of suppliers and manufacturers, creating aggregate demand that establishes negotiating power to the benefit of clients.  The company’s end-to-end building process mimics the process of precision-sequenced product assembly, moving labor from the job site to its factories, promising improved schedule and product quality assurance. “We have customers who are very interested in having a partner who can create a more systemized approach to what they do and just streamline the process from the very beginning,” Curtis explained. “Instead of every single project being bespoke and starting with an entire new team, which is what the industry has been forever, we can become their partner and help them develop their systems, building tools, and custom assemblies suited for their operation and what they do and what they do well, and help them execute that faster and cheaper.”

Getting Up Close and Personal with Modular Construction

Modular construction is hot here in the Bay Area, and has captured the interest of developers, investors and residents in search of a more effective, potentially less-expensive, way to build housing. Join us as we visit a brand new modular housing project in San Jose for an up-close look at how these units, which are constructed off-site before being trucked to San Jose, are set in place and locked together. Co-presented by First Community Housing. + Martin Keller / First Community Housing + Chris Schmidt / Guerdon Modular Buildings + Chris Rimes / Proset Modular
Placeholder Alt Text

Qatar unveils World Cup stadium made from shipping containers

Ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, host country Qatar has officially revealed that its seventh stadium for the event will be the world’s first fully modular stadium. The 40,000-seat arena will be constructed mainly from shipping containers and should be fully capable of being disassembled and reconstructed elsewhere. Announced on Sunday by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), the organization responsible for Qatar’s World Cup infrastructure, Ras Abu Aboud Stadium is the latest piece of Qatar’s $200 billion World Cup project to be revealed. The third venue to be designed for the 2022 World Cup by Fenwick Iribarren Architects, the stadium will be located on the waterfront of Doha, the country’s capital. By using modular shipping container blocks containing removable seats, concession stands, bathrooms and merchandise booths, the stadium’s layout can easily be adjusted in the future. Each of the pieces will arrive by tanker and be assembled on site. SC Secretary General H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi stressed the advantages of modular construction in a statement given to FIFA yesterday. "This venue offers the perfect legacy, capable of being reassembled in a new location in its entirety or built into numerous small sports and cultural venues. All of this in a stadium that delivers the atmosphere fans expect at a World Cup and which we will build in a more sustainable way than ever before,” he said. Because fewer materials will be needed in the stadium’s construction, and because Qatar has made integrating the newly-christened Stadium District into the fabric of Doha a top priority, Ras Abu Aboud Stadium will receive a four-star Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) certification upon completion. GSAS is a far-reaching set of rigid green design, build and operations guidelines for cooperating Gulf countries. Qatar’s involvement with the 2022 World Cup hasn’t been entirely without controversy, however. Despite locking in big-name architects such as Zaha Hadid to either renovate existing stadiums or build modern arenas from the ground up, even FIFA’s own advisory board on human rights has raised questions over how construction workers in the country are being treated. With the country currently facing an embargo from the United Arab Emirates, building materials have also become harder to come by in recent months. Ras Abu Aboud Stadium is currently under construction and still on track for an early 2020 completion date, a full two years before the World Cup kicks off.
Placeholder Alt Text

Forest City Ratner to sell pioneering modular factory at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Feeling boxed in, the company that pushed the boundaries of modular building is cutting out of the business.

Developer Forest City Ratner is selling its factory in the Brooklyn Navy Yard to a Roger Krulak, a former executive at the company. The Navy Yard facility produced 930 units for the world's tallest modular structure—461 Dean Street, a 32-story tower in Pacific Park (née Atlantic Yards) designed by SHoP.

When factory first opened, Forest City planned to build structures to support the guts (plumbing, bath, kitchen, and electrical) of every one of Pacific Park's buildings. The firm touted modular building's efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and its potential impact on the construction industry—one Forest City executive called the technology at the factory its "iPhone moment."

Unlike Apple, though, which comes out with new iPhones annually, 461 Dean Street tower took four years to construct. This was due in part to the building's structural issues, but also to long-running disagreements between Forest City and Skanska, which ran the factory until Forest City regained control to streamline operations. The project has the dubious honor of having one of the most languid construction timelines for a tower of its size in city history, the New York Times reports.

Despite setbacks, modular building is appealing because all of a building's parts can be made at one site, shielded from the elements, under the watchful eye of the project's designers and engineers. Although low- and lower-rise buildings, like nArchitects' Carmel Place, are soundly modular, the Dean Street building needed extra engineering, primarily steel reinforcement to provide resilience against high winds.

“The bumps we hit, with respect to Skanska, are typical of any start-up,” a sunny MaryAnne Gilmartin, the chief executive of Forest City Ratner, told the Times. “The good news is that we’ve worked out a lot of the bugs and gotten through the growing pains of innovation.”

Although modular has more than proved its merit in smaller projects, 461 Dean Street tested the technology's limits. It remains to be seen how Krulak, and other players like Capsys, will scale modular to meet its lofty aspirations. For his part, Krulak estimates that his company, Full Stack Modular, could help clients save up to 20 percent on the project's cost.

Placeholder Alt Text

It’s now too expensive to build local for New York’s modular construction industry

Thanks to high rents, New York City is losing one of its longtime modular construction companies at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. And the news could send ripples through the city's prefab construction scene. Capsys, a pre-fab builder founded in 1996, was paying $4 per square foot for its space in the Navy Yard, far below what other tenants were paying. The going rent, $20 per square foot, for manufacturing space at the Navy Yard is already set below market to retain firms that would otherwise not be able to afford to do business in the city. Upon learning in 2010 that their longterm lease was not being renewed, Capsys went hunting for new space. The advantage of local prefab construction is cost and quality control. Building are constructed at the factory by (usually) nonunion workers. Architects can check in on the projects, correcting any flaws before the pieces are shipped. Although rents are lower in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, being based locally cuts down on expensive overland shipping costs. Recently, though, new regulations require modular units to have an (expensive) police escort when the units are ferried to construction sites. For almost ten years, Capsys was the only modular builder in the Navy Yard until Forest City Ratner moved its operations there. With new owners of Forest City's Pacific Park, it looks like Forest City's modular building operations may close, though this could be due less to rising rents and more to design issues that incur costs. The shortcomings of Pacific Park's B2, the SHoP Architects–designed world's tallest modular tower, have been widely documented. Capsys has designed 55 micro-apartments for Carmel Place (the building formerly known as adAPT NYC), and Alexander Gorlin's Nehemiah townhouses, among other projects. When the company closes shop, Capsys will sell its intellectual property to a Pennsylvania company.
Placeholder Alt Text

First Mods of World’s Largest Prefabricated Building Assembled in Brooklyn

Last Thursday, the first mods of the SHoP Architects' prefabricated skyscraper—the B2 tower at Brooklyn's megaproject, Atlantic Yards—were hoisted up and assembled into place. The 32-story residential tower, which will be half affordable housing, will rise within the Atlantic Yards development adjacent the Barclays Center. The modular components are being built locally in a 100,000 square foot facility in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. When construction is complete by end of 2014, it will be the world's tallest pre-fabricated building.