Some good news out of Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei province and epicenter for the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that's now intensifying elsewhere across the globe. Authorities have suspended operations at all 16 of the city’s temporary hospitals—most erected and put into operation with remarkable speed and efficiency—as the infection rate across the greater Wuhan region continues to plummet following an aggressive, nearly two-month-long quarantine period. The temporary facilities were established with the express purpose of treating patients suffering from symptoms of coronavirus. The first of these makeshift hospitals discharged its last group of recovered patients on March 1. The news of the hospitals’ closure comes at roughly the same time as Chinese state media declared that the spread of the virus has been constrained in Hubei and beyond, with only new 19 new cases being reported as of March 9, all of them in Wuhan, a significant drop from just the day before. In total, Chinese officials have reported 80,754 confirmed cases of coronavirus since the outbreak began in late December. There have been 3,136 resulting deaths in China, with the first being reported on January 11. To mark the encouraging milestone, President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan for the first time since the outbreak began, where he relayed, per the BBC, that the virus had been “basically curbed” in the region. “Initial success has been made in stabilising the situation and turning the tide in Hubei and Wuhan,” said Xi. President Xi’s visit to Wuhan included a stopover at the 1,000-bed Huoshenshan Hospital, where he “visited” on-their-way-out patients and medical staff via video. Encompassing 645,000 square feet, Huoshenshan (“Mount Fire God”) Hospital was one of two field hospitals built-from-scratch on the outskirts of Wuhan, China’s 9th most populous city, in under 10 days using modular construction methods. This approach, taking a direct page from a prefab hospital erected in Beijing during the 2003 SARS outbreak, was in lieu of repurposing large existing structures such as convention centers and stadiums as was the case with most of the city’s other temporary medical facilities. Construction of Huoshenshan Hospital kicked off on January 23 was completed on February 2, with its first patients being admitted the next morning. A sister facility erected from prefabricated modules, Leishenshan (“Mount Thunder God”) Hospital, opened on February 8 in a massive disused parking lot in the neighboring Jiangxia district. “China has a record of getting things done fast, even for monumental projects like this,” Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the BBC when work on Huoshenshan Hospital was first underway. “Engineering work is what China is good at. They have records of building skyscrapers at speed. This is very hard for Westerners to imagine. It can be done.” With ample room to accommodate between 1,500 and 2,000 patients and a 1,260-person-strong medical staff, the largest of Wuhan’s now-closed coronavirus treatment centers, dubbed the Wuhan Living Room Temporary Hospital, took over a major exhibition center. While transforming an expo center into a massive emergency medical center practically overnight was obviously quite a feat of planning and logistics, the hospital didn’t receive as grandiose a name as its swiftly realized modular counterparts. Dr. Zhang Junjian, a neurologist at Wuhan University and the director of the Wuhan Living Room hospital, told the Associated Press at the end of February that he expected operations to end in “maybe in mid-March or during the last ten days of March because fewer patients are being admitted and the number of patients being discharged is gradually increasing now.” “If nothing special happens, I expect the operation of our makeshift hospital, the biggest one in Wuhan, could complete its historical mission by the end of March,” he added. Based on the news coming out of China, that much-anticipated day came even earlier than expected. As China basks in these encouraging developments and its president takes a very public victory lap, the spread of the virus shows no signs of slowing elsewhere including in heavily ravaged Italy, which recently enacted an unprecedented nationwide shut-down for all 60 million of its residents following a regional quarantine that was limited to the country's northern regions. This week, Italy also recorded the highest single-day fatality rate—168 people killed by the virus in 24 hours—since the outbreak began. The United States, particularly the Seattle metro area and suburban New York City, has also experienced an alarming uptick in confirmed cases over the last several days.
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Plant Prefab, a Southern California-based construction company specializing in prefabricated residential design, completed the first accessory dwelling unit (ADU) designed by its in-house design studio. Named LivingHome 10, the ADU was first unveiled during this year’s Modernism Week in downtown Palm Springs and was shown to the tens of thousands of visitors that attended the 10-day event. LivingHome 10 was unveiled a year after Plant Prefab commissioned industrial designer Yves Béhar to design the LivingHome YB1, a fully-customizable ADU. While the lowest asking price for YB1 was over $296,000 when it was first debuted, LivingHome 10 is nearly half the price at $154,000. With a mere 496 square feet of interior living space, the modestly-sized ADU tucks storage away using built-in furniture with concealed handles that make them imperceptible upon first glance. The self-contained living space includes a full-sized kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom large enough for a queen-sized bed, and a living room that spills out into an optional deck via a multi-slide glass entry. Smart home technology features are embedded throughout the home, including Sense Energy Monitoring, Lutron Smart Dimmers, and a voice-controlled smart home system from Amazon that will become a standard feature in every subsequent LivingHome model. “Following our investment in Plant Prefab last year," said David Jackson, director of Smart Home at Amazon, “we are delighted to continue collaborating with Plant Prefab to deliver convenient smart home experiences in every LivingHome. From the day they move in, homeowners can rely on Alexa to help make daily household tasks more convenient, offer peace of mind while at home or away, and more.” LivingHome 10 is among the first produced by the Plant Prefab to employ its Plant Building System (PBS), a patented method for prefabricating residences using a combination of modular units and a panelized construction system known as ‘Plant Panels.’ These panels are designed to be assembled like building blocks and include electrical, plumbing and finish materials along with framing and insulation. According to the company, the PBS system provides greater design flexibility than previous prefabrication systems, but can also lower overall costs while reducing building time and construction waste. And unlike traditional modular construction, which limits transportation and installation options by assembling the entire home offsite, the PBS system transports living spaces separate from plumbing and mechanical cores to allow ADUS to be delivered and assembled in more restrictive spaces.
In Santa Barbara, Valencia (the original, Eastern Spanish municipality, not the Western U.S. incarnation), a green grid can found rising out of the landscape. Embedded into the same stone as the nearby 758-year-old Valencia Cathedral, the grid is, in fact, a house designed by London-based studio Space Popular with local architects Estudio Alberto Burgos and Javier Cortina Maruenda. “We've never built anything in concrete, I doubt we ever will,” Space Popular cofounder Fredrik Hellberg told AN Interior. “We try and avoid it, to be honest.” It’s a statement that only ten years ago, back when Hellberg and his wife and fellow co-founder Lara Lesmes were studying at the Architectural Association, would’ve garnered odd looks from their peers. Now, however, the conversation around the most destructive material on earth has changed. So instead of building with concrete, Hellberg and Lesmes have opted for steel and brick. This marriage of the two materials, though, is not as you’d expect. Rather than employing a brick facade to mask a steel frame, almost the opposite is at play here. While steel still serves as a structural frame, it is by no means hidden. Painted green and proudly on display in the form of a grid, composed of 12-feet wide cubes, the steel is a mere four inches thick and feels incredibly delicate. The tectonic distich is completed with loadbearing Guastavino vaults that span various parts of the full structure in half and quarter-width iterations. It’s a language that is spoken throughout the house—both internally and externally, with flourishes like a brick-vaulted staircase and green trident railings dotted in every corner. “We wanted to eliminate all thresholds between the inside and outside,” Lesmes said. This objective was achieved through a semi-internal courtyard, sliding doors, and by having the gridded structure cover the entire plot, besides the pool area. The house is currently up for rent but the developer has plans to sell it in the long run. “To have a grid superstructure creates a sense of possibility—you can add a lot of awnings etc.,” Lesmes added. “Hopefully [the eventual owners] will cover the structure with plants, netting, a hammock, or fabrics to delineate shaded areas, that will create a sense of boundary.” Read the full project profile on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
As promised, China has completed the first of two emergency hospitals it is building to address the spread of coronavirus in Wuhan, and it did so in less than 10 days. A second hospital is scheduled for completion on Wednesday, less than two weeks after construction began. The Huoshenshan (Fire God Mountain) Hospital on the outskirts of Wuhan City was delivered to the People’s Liberation Army on February 2 and reportedly began receiving patients on February 3, starting with a group of 50. The 269,000-square-foot facility has 1,000 beds and was built to serve exclusively as a treatment and quarantine center for patients with the 2019-nCoV virus that has much of the country on lockdown. Images on China Global Television Network (CGTN), a government-run media agency, show a two-story facility with a series of wards connected by long corridors. There are two beds to a room, and the rooms are equipped with start of the art medical equipment such as a through-the-wall ultraviolet disinfectant system that the staff uses to deliver food and other supplies to patients. The government has been live-streaming footage of the construction to show how it is responding to the outbreak. Officials say they were able to build the hospital so quickly because they used prefabricated modules that could be assembled on-site, and people worked around the clock in shifts to assemble the components. A second facility known as the Leishenshan (Thunder God Mountain) Hospital, with 1,600 beds, is nearing completion and scheduled to open Wednesday in a different section of Wuhan, 15 miles from the first hospital. Government officials initially said it would have 1,300 beds but increased the number to 1,600 while the building was under construction. Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, is the epicenter of the virus. City officials took the lead on building the structure, working with the country’s health ministry and others. The construction process for both facilities is modeled after the one used to build the Xiaotangshan Hospital, which China built in 2003 to treat patients during an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and is still in operation. More than 7,000 people from around the country reportedly came together to build Huoshenshan Hospital. Construction workers were reportedly paid three times their usual salary. The hospital has a 1,400-member staff drawn from the country’s armed forces, including the People’s Liberation Army Joint Logistic Support Force and medical universities run by the army, navy and air force. The need for the two hospitals has been demonstrated by the way the virus has spread just since construction started. When sitework began for the first hospital on January 23, the death toll in China was 26 with 830 people diagnosed with the virus. By the time the first hospital was delivered, mainland China had reported more than 360 deaths due to the virus and over 9,700 people infected. Wuhan’s cases of infection had risen from 495 to 4,109 during the same period. Worldwide, more than 17,000 cases have been reported on four continents. The United States has had 11 cases of novel coronavirus as of February 3. On Friday, the U. S. government declared the virus a public health emergency and suspended entry for most foreign nationals who visited China. The World Health Organization has also declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency but leaders have praised China for its response to the virus. “We would have seen many more cases outside China by now, and probably deaths, if it were not for the government’s efforts and the progress they have made to protect their own people and the people of the world,” said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “China’s response has been really remarkable and, quitely frankly, unprecedented,” Dr. Carlos Del Rio, professor of medicine and global health at Emory University, told CNN. “They have learned a lot from SARS and I think they are applying those lessons in controlling this outbreak.”
The commercialization of the International Space Station (ISS), a plan NASA formalized in June of last year, continues as the space agency has announced plans for the orbiting station’s first hotel capsule. On January 27, NASA revealed that they had selected the Houston-based startup Axiom Space to design and build the first habitable commercial capsule. Axiom was founded in 2016 with plenty of former NASA members on board and boasts a unique business model. The company’s ultimate goal, after attaching enough of its own modules to the ISS, is to ultimately detach and open their own private space station when the older structure is retired. Assuming the partnership continues, this first hotel capsule could eventually be the beginning of an entirely new, semi-parasitic station. Design-wise, in 2018 Axiom enlisted architect Philippe Stark to mockup what the space hotel and modules could look like. According to their website, “Dedicated to sharing an ethical and subversive version of a fairer planet, the famed French creator designed the Axiom modules to evoke a comfortable egg which preserves life in space’s ‘multi-directional freedom.’” That is to say, from the outside the segments look like fairly traditional, oblong segments that currently make up the ISS. Inside, however, Stark has decked out the capsule with gold accents, touch screens, nets, handles, and observatory spaces, creating spaces capable of handling 360-degree movement while affording lux views of the Earth below. According to NASA, developing Low Earth Orbit (LEO) as an attractive destination for private astronauts (tourists) is the first step in their five-point plan to industrialize space.
“The other elements of the five-point plan include efforts to make station and crew resources available for commercial use through a new commercial use and pricing policy; enable private astronaut missions to the station; seek out and pursue opportunities to stimulate long-term, sustainable demand for these services; and quantify NASA’s long-term demand for activities in low-Earth orbit.”At the time of writing, Axiom and NASA are still hashing out pricing and a timeline for the capsule. The company’s ability to deliver on the space hotel in a timely manner is especially important as direct government support of the ISS is set to expire in 2025, putting the station’s future beyond that in doubt.
China’s Wuhan City, the capital of Hubei, is building a 1,000-bed hospital in six days in response to the coronavirus outbreak that has the city on lockdown, and it plans to build a second dedicated hospital with 1,300 beds over a two-week period. Sitework for the first hospital began last Thursday, when dozens of bulldozers began clearing land on the outskirts of Wuhan, a city of 11 million, where the novel coronavirus reportedly originated. Since then, more than 100 workers have converged on the site in Wuhan’s Caidian district. Local authorities are spearheading the construction effort and have set February 3 as the target date for completing the first facility, the Wuhan Huoshenshan Hospital. According to the South China Morning Post, Huoshenshan Hospital will be both a quarantine and treatment center reserved for people infected with the rapidly spreading coronavirus, which has been blamed for causing the deaths of 80 people and infecting thousands since last month. The primary reason the first facility can be built so quickly is that much of it will consist of prefabricated structures, more than 20 in all, built elsewhere and then installed on the site. A site plan published by the Morning Post showed that the first Wuhan hospital will be a low rise structure with a series of wards for patient care. The prefabricated modules, one to two stories high, will be separated by outdoor space and connected by central corridors. The completed facility will be 269,000 square feet and will hold approximately 1,000 beds, according to The People’s Daily, a state-run media agency. Construction workers are reportedly being paid three times their usual wages because the government considers it an emergency. CITIC Pacific Properties, a subsidiary of CITIC Limited in Hong Kong, has worked with local officials and China’s Ministry of Health to design the Huoshenshan Hospital. China State Construction Engineering is one of the lead builders. “It’s basically a quarantined hospital where they send people with infectious diseases so it has the safety and protective gear in place,” Joan Kaufman, a lecturer at Harvard Medical School, told the BBC. “China has a record of getting things done fast, even for monumental projects like this,” Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the BBC. Because it is an authoritarian country, China can overcome bureaucracy and financial constraints and mobilize a large workforce quickly, added Huang, who is also a professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. “Engineering work is what China is good at. They have records of building skyscrapers at speed. This is very hard for Westerners to imagine. It can be done.” People with the 2019-nCoV virus develop flu-like symptoms that can lead to pneumonia, including a fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Existing hospitals and “fever clinics” in Wuhan and other cities have been overwhelmed by people exhibiting symptoms and seeking treatment; especially as the country has locked down Wuhan and a total of 56 million residents in quarantine. Construction of the new medical facilities is one of many measures the Chinese government is taking to address the spread of the virus, along with closing tourist destinations such as Shanghai Disneyland and Beijing’s Forbidden City. On Saturday, the People’s Daily reported that Wuhan plans to build a second hospital, Leishenshan Hospital, designed to accommodate 1,300 patients. The target occupancy date for that project is mid-February. Government leaders say the process for both projects is modeled on a hospital that China built in 2003 to treat patients during an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). That facility, the Xiaotangshan Hospital, was built in Beijing in seven days and eventually was the location where one-seventh of the country’s SARS patients were treated. At the time, the project set a world record for hospital construction. More than 4,000 people worked day and night to build the SARS hospital in 2003, according to news reports at the time. In addition to patient wards, it had an X-ray room, intensive care unit, laboratory and other medical facilities, and according to officials, Wuhan’s hospitals will be comparable in size to the 2003 facility.
Eagle Village, a new pilot community in Seattle’s South of Downtown District, is the first transitional housing project in King County to go fully modular. At the heart of the community are six modular trailers, previously used to house transient Texan oil workers, that have been divvied up into a total of 24 self-contained, dorm-style living units. The units, each outfitted with a bathroom, kitchenette, and ample closet space, are geared to accommodate single-occupancy residents as well as couples and roommates. Pets are also allowed. Even more impressively, Eagle Village is the first transitional housing project anywhere to exclusively provide shelter and related services to Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders experiencing homelessness. Completed last October, the $3.3 million development is situated on a parcel owned by King County Metro that will eventually be redeveloped for other purposes. The village, which features a medicinal garden and drum circle, began welcoming its first residents weeks later. In total, Eagle Village has capacity for 31 full-time residents, all of whom, in addition to safe and secure housing, are provided with onsite support services from the Chief Seattle Club, the nonprofit spearheading the project alongside several county agencies. As NPR Seattle affiliate KUOW reported, 30 people, all of them trying to secure affordable housing of permanence in the near future, currently call Eagle Village home. Providing what Chief Seattle Club executive director Colleen Echohawk called “culturally responsible housing” is a challenge that’s somewhat unique to Seattle and King County, where there are an estimated 1,000 homeless people of Native descent. “We make up less than one percent of the total population and make up over 10 percent of our homeless population," Echohawk explained to KUOW. In a press release, King County executive Dow Constantine stressed the ongoing need to provide dignified housing to indigenous peoples experiencing homelessness:
“We know that people of color, and particularly Native Americans, are disproportionately represented in the homeless population, and we are committed to tackling that challenge. With our first completed modular housing project, we are partnering with the Chief Seattle Club to focus on providing safe housing and onsite services for urban Native residents. With Eagle Village, we are turning plans into action, and dreams into hope.”While there currently aren't plans to expand Eagle Village at its current site, King County will develop other transitional housing communities in Seattle and beyond. Like Eagle Village, all of these future sites will revolve around modular living units once used to house oil workers in Houston. In addition to the six converted trailers now housing the residents of Eagle Village, King County has purchased another 14 Texas-sourced trailers for $90,000 each, with the goal of generating 75 new housing units—units that have the potential to make a world of difference to those who live in them, even if they’re only there a short spell.
Mexico City-based studio Zeller & Moye has developed a sustainable, modular housing prototype made specifically for warm, rural locales. Casa Hilo, a 2,900-square-foot single-family home, features a concrete framework that can be arranged in a variety of configurations and with spaces interconnected without a central spine. The adaptable architecture is inspired by the way low-income Mexican families in countryside communities interact with the land—and other locals—surrounding them. Zeller & Moye collaborated with social housing group INFONAVIT to study the living conditions of these areas and then shape their design to create a series of homes across Coquimatlán in Mexico. Completed in May, Casa Hilo’s base layout includes a set of individual box-shaped rooms—each a separate space with its own front door and roof terrace—with open green patios between them. This prototype includes two bedrooms, one kitchen that doubles as a dining room, and a bathroom. The outdoor spaces making up the garden, where residents might grow their own plants for food or sale, are slightly shaded by the modular structures and provide a pleasant microclimate for communing. The design team added an outdoor tub, wood fire stove, benches, and another dining table for nice days. During the hotter months, the adobe blocks that make up the solid walls within the concrete frame cool the interiors by absorbing extra humidity. The windows and doors are made of large bamboo lattice structures and dually provide air circulation as well as shade when opened up to the exterior. According to the architects, the residence can be expanded based on the needs of the family, though Casa Hilo only has four rooms. Chrisoph Zeller and Ingrid Moye, principals of Zeller & Moye, led the experimental development of Casa Hilo. Both architects formerly worked at SANAA and Herzog & de Meuron. Previously completed works by the firm include a remodeled 1930s townhouse in Mexico City and several furniture collections.
According to the recently released Commercial Construction Index (CCI), an economic indicator that tracks trends in the commercial construction industry, demand for modular construction is on the rise, and general contractors expect the trend to continue. Modular construction uses prefabricated and preassembled building components that are built in a factory and shipped to the job site for assembly. They meet the same standards and use the same materials as a traditional building but, advocates say, they offer a range of additional benefits. As reported by The National Real Estate Investor, over the last five years, the modular construction business has doubled in size to become an $8 billion industry. What amounts for the new interest? Previous studies have shown that increased productivity and lower costs are driving contractors to embrace modular construction. Now, with materials costs continuing to rise around the world, these potential savings have become even more critical. But they're not the only issue. The CCI study found that more than 70 percent of surveyed contractors reported eight clear benefits of modular construction: increases in efficiency, productivity, safety, and quality; reductions in risk, cost, material waste, and construction times—an particularly important benefit for revenue-earning buildings whose owners want to start collecting rent as soon as possible. A few of those benefits go hand-in-hand with one another, but the report is promising for the industry. The nonprofit Modular Building Institute also predicts an increase in modular construction over the next few years. However, in their view, it's not just the above-mentioned benefits driving change, it's also the accelerating loss of skilled labor that will push the industry further toward industrialization and automation. The reports are a potential boon for the industry, which hit some bumps during what might be called its “start-up” phase a few years ago. Notably, 461 Dean Street in Brooklyn’s Pacific Park development hit setbacks that included manufacturing disruptions, disputes, and delays that ultimately lead to a four-year construction period and giving it, as AN wrote at the time, “the dubious honor of having one of the most languid construction timelines for a tower of its size in city history.” The plan for more modular buildings in Pacific Park was abandoned, but, after the project got back on track, the building now stands as a model of the potential and the pitfalls of modular construction. The stories that have since followed have suffered from fewer hiccups, like the 21-story CitizenM New York. The tallest modular hotel in the United States, the CitizenM is composed of 210 modular units, each housing two hotel rooms. Housing, hotels, and hospitals, which depend on the repetition of identical rooms and spaces, are the areas that stand to benefit the most and, in turn, drive the growth of modular construction. What could stall the rise of modular construction? Upfront costs can be large and securing loans can be difficult. And although the manufacturing technology is becoming more sound, the much-touted savings aren’t as significant as predicted yet. That could change as demand rises, as more factories are built to produce modular components, and as other factors, like the use of autonomous vehicles to reduce shipping costs and advancements in BIM make it easier to build stronger partnerships between architect, fabricator, and contractor. The last hurdle? A lack of awareness. More than 70 percent of general contractors say their reason for not using modular construction is that clients aren't asking for them and architects aren’t designing them.
Mexican practice Escobedo Soliz recently completed two schools in Mexico's Puebla region, which was devastated by an earthquake in 2017. According to the architects, over 200 public schools were destroyed in the region, which spurred a group of private investors to commission the firm to create two primary schools in the town of Santa Isabel Cholula. The team had only nine months to design and build both structures, leading to the selection of a modular, prefabricated system. The two schools use repetitive, single-story, barn-like modules with skylights along their ridges and red-pigmented precast concrete panels on their exteriors. The modules are arranged along covered porticos that act as outdoor hallways.
Brought to you with support fromModular construction is gaining steam in New York City, with the technique being utilized for new projects ranging from affordable housing to academic facilities. In September 2018, modular technology reached a new height with the tallest modular hotel in the United States, the 21-story citizenM New York Bowery located in Manhattan. For the modular units, Concrete Architectural Associates, Stephen B. Jacobs Group Architects and Planners, and DeSimone Consulting Engineers reached out to Polish manufacturers Polcom Modular, and Aluprof S.A. The units, which measure 48 feet by 8 feet by 9 feet and incorporate two hotel rooms and a central corridor (following a pattern of guestroom-corridor-guestroom), were specifically designed to navigate the street width of New York City. Each module was assembled with the street-facing facade included.
Red Hook Terminal. From Brooklyn, a convoy of flatbed trucks transported the units across the East River to the construction site. The project began with the construction of a four-story concrete base, topped with a 36-inch-thick slab that spans up to 38 feet. This podium, which houses larger amenity spaces below, serves as a transfer slab to support the modular pods above. While the bulk of the citizenM New York Bowery hotel is composed of modular units, there are certain structural elements that span the building’s height. Prior to the craning in of prefabricated components, the construction team poured a full-height concrete structural core along the sites southwest corner and a sheer wall to the north. These concrete structural elements are the primary lateral system for the tower, with the sheer wall largely preventing the modular units from twisting. "Diagonal strap bracing on the module ceiling acted as the floor diaphragm to transfer the floor lateral loads back to the sheer walls," said DeSimone Consulting Engineers Managing Principal Borys Hayda, "the sheer wall's steel connection plates were bolted into the module ceilings and the female end of a Halfen stud embedded into the concrete structure." Once on site, the modules were lifted by crane and stacked module-to-module, each tied to the one directly below by bolted connections. According to DeSimone Engineers, "countersunk bolts were typically used for the diaphragm connections to prevent boltheads from interfering with the bearing of the module above." During construction, the prefabricated units were effectively cocooned within a watertight membrane, with the central portion later being cut out for the hotel’s corridors. After a brief learning curve at the start of the project, the construction team was capable of installing one floor of modular units per week. The top two floors of the tower are framed by structural steel, allowing for larger amenity spaces.Following fabrication, the 210 modular units were transported hundreds of miles from the manufacturing facilities in Goleszów, Poland to the northern port city of Gdańsk where they began the second leg of their trip to New York’s
CitizenM, the boutique hotel company founded in Amsterdam that prides itself on offering affordable luxury lodging, is opening its second hotel in New York and in the United States this week, on the Bowery on the Lower East Side in a building designed by Stephen B. Jacobs Group. The new hotel will be the brand’s first in the U.S. to use its prefabricated construction system, which no doubt helps make its luxury affordable. According to Rob Wagemans, the brand’s creative director who is also the founder of Concrete, an Amsterdam-based design firm, many citizenM hotels feature modular guest rooms that are prefabricated in a factory north of Gdansk, Poland, and then shipped by sea in containers to the hotels’ location. The Bowery hotel’s 300 165-square-foot prefabricated guest rooms, made of steel, with concrete floors covered with a wood laminate. were shipped containing most of their furniture, all pieces attached to the rooms’ walls or floor. The furniture includes a California king-size bed that is placed directly below the guest room’s window, which is located in one of its walls, and that lies flush against two other walls facing each other; an HD TV, with wiring done in Poland, that is located at the foot of the bed, mounted on the wall; a table next to one wall that contains the room’s iPad, which controls its lighting, blinds, and TV; a Corian vanity on the opposite wall that contains a sink, minibar, and mirror; and table lamps and a George Nelson lamp above the bed. The room’s frosted glassed-in combined shower and toilet space is also prefabricated; appliances here were made in Germany by Hansgrohe and shipped to Poland for installation Not sent by container is the rooms' movable furniture, such as a red-upholstered Eames chair from Vitra with an accompanying bench; decorative and visual art; and toiletries and toilet paper. Each modular unit consists of two guest rooms connected by a hallway, and 210 units were shipped to New York for the Bowery hotel. The hallway carpet here is decorated with local landmarks and was installed on-site. Wagemans said citizenM’s first hotel in the United States—located in Times Square—was not constructed with modular rooms because when it opened in 2014, the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) would not permit installation of a sprinkler system that was built overseas and not been inspected locally. Robin Chadha, citizenM’s chief marketing officer, said that the administration of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio now looks favorably on prefabrication and is permitting DOB inspectors to go to Europe to inspect sprinklers in citizenM’s modular guest rooms. CitizenM declined to quantify savings afforded by guest room prefabrication, but said the units’ small size means they “generate up to 35 percent more hotel keys per property than a traditional hotel” and undoubtedly more revenue. Not all of the new Bowery hotel was prefabricated. Spaces that were not include the lobby, a ground floor cafe, a “living room” one floor below the first floor, and a rooftop bar with 360-degree views of the city. CitizenM, which owns and operates its 13 hotels worldwide, constructed the 246-feet-tall building the Bowery hotel occupies and claims it is one of the highest in its Lower East Side neighborhood. Eight of the brand’s 13 hotels feature modular guest rooms.