Posts tagged with "Modular Construction":

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New York City issues first call for affordable housing requiring modular construction

New York City’s affordable buildings are now going up in blocks as part of Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York 2.0 plan released late last year. The more ambitious sequel to 2014’s original Housing New York, the new plan calls for a shift towards modular construction on affordable housing projects as a time- and cost-saving measure. Now, the first request for proposals (RFP) has been issued for a city-owned modular development. As reported by The Real Deal, NYC's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) first issued the RFP for a modular, 100 percent affordable building in East New York on May 24. The L-shaped plot is owned by the city and covers approximately 49,397 square feet at 581 Grant Street, between Pitkin and Glenmore Avenues along Elder Lane, adjacent to the Grant Avenue A station. For the city’s first mandated modular project, HPD is looking to develop a mixed-use building with 100 percent of the units allocated for affordable housing across all income levels. Ten percent of the units will be set aside for the formerly homeless. Interested parties have until September 10, 2018, to submit their proposals. Modular construction has taken off in a big way as of late and is one of the many tools that the de Blasio administration wants to use to hit 300,000 units of new or preserved units of housing by 2026 (up from 200,000 units in the 2014 plan). Boston is gearing up to open a new modular unit factory, and modular design/build start-up Katerra is continuing its impressive expansion across the West Coast. AN will follow this article up after a team for 581 Grant Street has been selected.
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Renderings unveiled for Yeezy Home’s first affordable housing prototype

Less than a month after launching the Yeezy Home architecture studio, Kanye West and collaborators Jalil Peraza, Petra Kustrin, Nejc Skufca and Vadik Marmelado have unveiled initial renderings for a prefabricated affordable housing prototype. Renderings for the speculative design project were unveiled via Peraza’s Instagram account over the weekend. The images depict photorealistic renderings of concrete paneled apartment interiors and are labeled as a “low-income housing scheme” by Peraza. The slick interior images betray the minimal-meets-sumptuous vernacular West favors, showcasing views of a sleek, sun-lit kitchen and an atmospheric courtyard. A third view acquired by Highsnobiety depicts a white-walled room that connects directly to the aforementioned, window-paneled courtyard.  The project images come as West attempts to expand into the world of architecture and urban design following a visit to the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc). West recently unveiled views of the Yeezy Offices in Calabasas, California undertaken with the designer Willo Perron. In the past, West has worked with OMA, Family, John Pawson, and Alex Vervoodt on personal design collaborations, as well. Peraza is a long-time collaborator with West and has worked on the rapper’s DONDA clothing line in the past.  A project timeline or site for the low-cost housing scheme has not been announced, but considering Peraza’s ongoing work with Face Modules, a prefab commercial pod system, it could be that the scheme is designed for mass application. West’s interest in low-cost housing comes along amid languishing urgency surrounding a nation-wide housing crisis. Experts widely agree that a shortage of affordable housing units nationwide is fueling income inequality, economic stagnation, and a growing homelessness epidemic, though little has been done about it. The designers’ efforts mirror those of another celebrity-turned-developer—Elon Musk—who has proposed making bricks from the mud excavated from his tunnel boring activities in Los Angeles, in order to build affordable housing.
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A London startup wants to bring Adjaye-designed housing to the masses

Catalog homes could soon be seeing a resurgence, as London-based startup Cube Haus has enlisted several big-name English architects to design modular, off-the-shelf homes for design lovers on a budget. Adjaye Associates, Skene Catling de la Pena, Carl Turner Architects, and furniture designer Faye Toogood have all signed on to design high-density housing that will infill “awkward” sites throughout London. London homeowners have the option to subdivide their property and build on the unused portions, resulting in awkwardly shaped plots. Cube Haus claims that its modular designs can be scaled to fit these unorthodox lots and infill areas naturally and that their homes will cost 10 to 15 percent less than a conventional model because of their off-site manufacturing. Each home will be framed from solid sheets of cross-laminated timber and moved into place at the construction site, then clad in sustainable materials. Cube Haus is also offering up its designs for consumers building in more traditional lots as well. Adjaye Associates is no stranger to residential housing in London, and their rectangular Cube Haus design closely resembles Adjaye’s 2007 Sunken House in Hackney. Excavated gardens in the home’s yard plays a central role in this scheme, as do tall windows and ample natural light. Everything else about the timber-clad home’s layout is up to the landowner, and all of the rooms have been designed for a plug-and-play approach. Carl Turner has brought two schemes to the table. The first is a two-story house with a flat courtyard area on the roof, which splits the upper level into two pitched volumes. Cube Haus notes that the pitch of the roof can be adjusted, rotated, or flattened out according to the client’s whims. The second model is single-story slab pierced with a square courtyard, with the home’s programming arranged around this space. Consumers have the choice of cladding their homes in opaque glass, zinc, charred timber, or dark brick. Skene Catling de la Peña engineered their scheme as a “building within a building,” designing a masonry-clad central column that serves as a fireplace, staircase, hot water heater, and storage space around which the rest of the rooms are organized. Homeowners have several options for how they can clad the shaft, from tile to marble–or it can be left undecorated, exposing the precast concrete structure below. The homes themselves will be malleable to the irregular sites, linked through their spacious rooms and ubiquitous views of the main column. Faye Toogood has offered up a simple scheme in two material palettes; one light and one dark. A central garden placed between two pitched peaks breaks up the rectilinear massing of the house, creating a form suitable for both the urban environment as well as the countryside. Cube Haus is the child of entrepreneurs Philip Bueno de Mesquita (himself an owner of an Adjaye-designed home in London) and Paul Tully. The company is already building, with two sites in Forest Gate, London under construction and others in pre-planning throughout the city. Cube Haus hopes that its three-bedroom homes will sell for anywhere from $880,000 to approximately $1 million.
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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.”
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A modular apartment factory is set to touch down in Chicago

Chicago-based general contractors Skender are getting into the modular manufacturing game, with an announcement that they will be building a factory on Chicago’s southwest side that can crank out hotel rooms and entire apartments. Skender is going all in on the new factory and modular fabrication startup, which they claim will put 100 people to work (an impressive number, as Skender only has 300 employees), and is using the opportunity to shift towards a design-build model. The company has bought out local firm Ingenious Architecture and will use the 10-person studio to guide the design and manufacturing of the modular units. Tim Swanson, formerly the head of CannonDesign’s Chicago office, will be joining as Skender’s chief design officer, Kevin Bredeson has been named the chief technology officer, and the company is hunting for a CEO to lead its factory. The move represents a huge expansion in scope for Skender, which has also changed its name from Skender Construction as part of the new direction the company is pursuing. “We are asking new questions,” said Skender President and Partner Justin Brown in a statement. “Why can’t we apply sophisticated design principles to modular manufacturing? How can we eliminate weather delays by bringing large parts of the process indoors? How can we significantly boost productivity without sacrificing quality?” Skender is expecting to roll full apartments, hotel rooms, and pieces of both multi-family residences and healthcare buildings off its new assembly line. Everything can be fabricated at the factory by tradespeople, from cabinets to light fixtures to units that have been pre-wired and set up for plumbing, then shipped to the potential construction site and unloaded via crane. Besides being able to construct modular buildings from the ground up (similar to New York’s Carmel Place), Skender plans to use the factory to work on both the interior and exteriors of its projects simultaneously, and standardize production. To say that modular architecture has had its ups and downs in recent years would be an understatement. While the world’s largest modular hotel, the Stephen B. Jacobs Group-designed CitizenM, is nearly complete in New York, the industry is still smarting from the bruising battle it took to complete 461 Dean Street in Brooklyn. The Pacific Park tower eventually became the world's tallest modular building, but was mired in lawsuits between Skanska and developer Forest City Ratner until the latter cut their losses and sold their modular manufacturing factory to architect Roger Krulak and his company, FullStack Modular. It remains to be seen if Skender can make the model work for them, but their smaller scope should help. If all goes as planned, Skender expects to pick a site for the factory in the coming months and to begin production in the fourth quarter of this year.

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
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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.
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Brooklyn-based CAZA is designing a modular hospital and trauma center in the Philippines

Construction is set to begin this month for a joint hospital and trauma care center in Baler, Philippines. Designed by Brooklyn-based Carlos Arnaiz Architects (CAZA), the Ospital Pacifica de Juan and Juana Angara will be the firm’s first healthcare design project and the first hybrid hospital and trauma center for the Pacific island nation. The $8 million, 65,817 square-foot medical complex will have a daily patient capacity of 75 and will offer an array of services, including maternity wards, imaging, operating rooms, a chapel, and a café. The proposed facility will also seek to foster the therapeutic presence of Baler’s natural, tropical aesthetic, by incorporating a series of undulating canopies that will also shelter an extensive courtyard, surfaced with tiles and grass, in the center of the hospital.  According to a press release, CAZA designed the hospital and trauma center in three parts, with “adaptable modularity and operational growth” in mind, offering an array of different arrangements for patient and examination rooms. The first modular form is the structural skeleton—a prefabricated concrete structure that’s bolted into place and organizes the facility at an infrastructural level, weaving gas, plumbing, and ventilation ducts through its beams and columns. The second modular aspect is the facility’s doors, walls, and windows, which are made of lighter materials, that fasten into the concrete. Insulating packets inserted where the wall structures meet the concrete create a seal that permits higher levels of hygiene, for example, in an operating room where sterility is a matter of life and death. The perimeter of the building will be produced onsite—a series of awnings and gardens built locally, with rather inexpensive materials and where labor is also affordable.  “Normally trauma centers in urban areas are big and separate from hospitals,” principal architect Carlos Arnaiz said. “The idea of doing a small scale trauma center for rural communities and small towns was really unusual,” and given that there was no “precedent or case study, we had to really hybridize techniques and knowledge from different sectors.” Research for the project spanned over the course of half of a year, during which time the firm consulted with different trauma center specialists on both the planning and operations side in the United States, as well as a host of contacts in the Philippines who would provide culturally specific insights. “In the Philippines, we talked to a number of people in the government, people in the [Department] of Health with familiarity about health and trauma centers, and people at the university level,” Arnaiz said. The University of the Philippines School of Health Sciences has a campus located adjacent to where the hospital is set to be built. Anraiz said he's excited to be the first boutique firm to design a health and trauma center and take a different approach, saying that healthcare in the design and architecture world has “been monopolized by large corporate firms that have a lot of experience doing this.” “Given the fact that it’s being done in a community where costs will be a major factor, we’re not focused on high-end finishing, or focused on the 1%. We’re focused on communities where healthcare doesn’t exist,” Arnaiz said.  Arnaiz also said the chapel is an important part of the design, allowing "space to retreat from the intensity of a hospital and to commune in silence." While the non-denominational meditation space is removed from the central facilities, it's the first thing one sees upon entry. The chapel is clad in the stone used for the landscape walls, while custom-designed screen bricks were used to wrap the apse and admit light in an ethereal manner. "The intent here is to fuse the ground with the sky and connect people with the dual belief that our souls come and go to both places upon death," Arnaiz said. CAZA has set March 2018 as an anticipated date for medical center’s completion.
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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.

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Terreform ONE builds modular cricket farm at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

When the apocalypse hits, one New York–based firm makes the case that you'll want to be inside a modular cricket farm. Terreform ONE has debuted an insect farm that doubles as a shelter at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The structure is comprised of 224 cells that sustain the crickets, which, when ripe and firm, can be harvested and ground up into insect flour, eaten whole, or added to sweets as an extra nutrition boost. “The farm will be the Mack Daddy of cricket-growing processes—it’s a super-sanitary way to harvest crickets locally,” Terreform ONE principal Mitchell Joachim told the Brooklyn Paper. The firm cites United Nations research that suggests the consumption of insects—a high protein, low-impact food source—as one solution to feed a growing population in a time of increasingly scarce resources. The farm is easily replicable: A CNC plywood archway is lined with off-the-shelf plastic containers, modified with ventilation screens, louvers, feeder ports and "insect sacs" where the crickets live and germinate. The containers are aligned parametrically to conform to the archway splines, and creates beauty from its inhabitants' sonic emissions by magnifying their chirping via columns of vibrating air. The project brief notes that sushi, once rejected as anathema to American dietary norms, is now pre-packed for consumption at major national grocery chains. Over two billion people eat insects each day, and the modular cricket farm could be a great way to ease the critters into the Western diet. Unconvinced? Check out the video below to see the insects in action:
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David Umemoto's scaled down Brutalist city scapes

Based in Montreal, architect and sculptor David Umemoto has created a number of Brutalist cubic volumes and sculptures. The forms, which derive from Brutalist principles, have been amalgamated in one work as part of a three-dimensional tessellating cube. When disassembled, the forms clearly resemble architectural elements and spaces. They can then be rearranged in any manner of compositions to create a series of both additive and subtractive volumes. Subsequently, Umemoto has repeated this process in some cases to generate modular city-scapes. Speaking of his work, Umemoto said: "This scalable modular building system is based on the theory that there is a universal order. Molecules, cycles, ecosystems, the order is the norm and chaos an accident." "Everything is connected, organized and structured; it is only a matter of place, time and scale. Thus, we can speak of a cellular system rather than modular elements that not only can be interchanged but also transformed. They obey rules in a rigid frame but with an organic development." In terms of process, the forms were created by Umemoto as reliefs using styrofoam as a placeholder for the concrete. Here the concrete, when wet, inhibits the space left within the styrofoam and once dry, can simply be removed to reveal the negative of the styrofoam form. Umemoto hasn't just used this technique for volumetric purposes, either. In one instance, a pattern using a more complex array of curves was carved onto a styrofoam sheet and impressed onto the concrete. "The work is an exploration of the patterns and codes, sometimes obvious, sometimes obscure, that govern our environment," said Umemoto.
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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.