Posts tagged with "Prefab":

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Forest City Breaks Ground at Atlantic Yards’ B2 Tower, Shows Off Modular Design

At Tuesday's groundbreaking of B2, the first 32-story residential tower to be built at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, New Yorkers got a sneak peek at how the world’s tallest modular building will be constructed. Just beyond the podium stood what officials call the “chassis,” a steel framed box that makes up an essential structural element of the building. “You don’t need to compromise on design when it comes to modular,” said Developer Bruce Ratner. Located on the corner of Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue, the SHoP Architects-designed tower will rise above the Barclay Center, also designed by SHoP, and offer 363 units split evenly between affordable housing and market rate units. Ratner told the audience that the affordable units at Atlantic Yards will be equipped with the exact same appliances and amenities as the market rate apartments: “You will not know an affordable unit from a market rate unit.” The bulk of the construction of the modular components will happen in a 100,000 square-foot space at the Brooklyn Navy Yard with the help of 125 unionized workers, which MaryAnne Gilmartin, executive vice president of commercial and residential development at Forest City Ratner, said would help in the “reduction of traffic, dust, and waste” and Mayor Bloomberg hailed as “cheaper and less disruptive.” B2 is just the first of more than a dozen residential buildings to come.
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SHoP Updates Atlantic Yards Design as Forest City Confirms Prefab

On Wednesday, Forest City Ratner made it official: the world's tallest prefabricated building will be coming to Brooklyn with a groundbreaking date set for December 18. As AN outlined in our recent feature on Atlantic Yards, the SHoP Architects-designed B2 Tower will climb, modular unit by modular unit, 32 stories on a slender wedge-shaped parcel adjacent to the new Barclays Center on the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street. Renderings released with the groundbreaking announcement also revealed design revisions to the B2 Tower since it was unveiled in November 2011, and Chris Sharples, principal at SHoP, told AN what's new. The B2 Tower's massing remains the same as before, conforming to strict guidelines for setbacks mandated by the Empire State Development Corporation, but the facade treatments for each of the three massing types in the building have been refined. "When we first started, we were doing a conventional design," Sharples noted. "We decided to move away from emphasizing the frames or boxes. It doesn't have to look like a modular building." The red mass, nicknamed "the wedge" in SHoP's offices, has been updated to de-emphasize the repetition of modular units. Previously, the facade was comprised of a rigid grid of charcoal-colored rectangles forming deep reveals with red accents."There's still relief, the red L-frames project out from the charcoal," Sharples said. "It's a bit more subtle." The new arrangement creates a series of variegated vertical stripes, helping to create a singular unit rather than a stack of boxes. Similarly on the top-most mass, the grid was softened. "At the top, we emphasized the bevel with pewter gray and silver gray," Sharples noted. The slight color variation helps to emphasize shadow on the facade and unify the mass. ShoP also refined the cladding on the third mass, with a skin of anodized aluminum perforated panels, creating an intricate play of light on the structure. Set back, one final facade—"the glue that brings all three volumes together"—will feature black glass. Sharples noted that prefabrication is a dynamic process. "As we go into production, we'll evolve even further like we did at the arena." Each of the 930 prefabricated modules—called "mods"—will be manufactured at the nearby Brooklyn Navy Yard, part of a collaboration between Forest City and construction company Skanska, where controlled conditions will speed construction times. Each mod will arrive at the construction site fully assembled with all interior finishes and appliances installed. Up to three mods, measuring nearly 400 square feet, will make up each apartment. SHoP has designed the mods with hinged panels on the exterior that can fold down to cover joints during installation. Sharples said these "mate lines" present a unique challenge with prefabricated design and will be some of the only finish work construction to take place on site. On the interior of the units, he noted, walls where two mods are joined will appear slightly thicker than traditional wall construction. When complete, the B2 Tower will house 363 residential units over retail space and will feature roof terraces, indoor bike storage, common areas, and even a yoga studio. Developers are anticipating an opening in 2014.
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Chinese Firm Plans to Build World’s Tallest Building in 90 Days

Move over Burj Khalifa, a group in China has its eye set on building the next world's tallest skyscraper, and they plan to do it in just 90 days. Called Sky City Changsha, the tower envisioned for central China's Hunan province could rise nearly 2,750 feet over 220 floors. That's 32 feet higher than the current world's tallest in Dubai. Broad Sustainable Building (BSB), an air conditioning manufacturer behind the proposal, will prefabricate building components to achieve the impossibly short deadline. BSB has already proven their speed. In 2010, the company built the 15-story Ark Hotel, also in Changsha, in a mere six days, followed by a 30-story tower built in only 15 days (see video below), both using prefab construction. In contrast, Dubai's Burj Khalifa, built with traditional construction techniques, took six years to build. The secret is in their pre-planning. An extensive amount of construction materials—93 percent in the Ark Hotel—are prefabricated, which leaves the final act of putting them together all the easier to speed through. BSB estimates that using factory-built prefab components produces less than one percent of the usual waste associated with traditional building methods while consuming less steel and concrete. The company also claims its prefab structures are earthquake resistant up to a magnitude of a 9.0 earthquake. If completed, Sky City would be a city unto itself. Included in the building's one million square feet is living space for 17,400 people, a 1,000 person hotel, retail, schools, office space and a hospital. Pending approval from the Chinese government, Sky City could be completed as soon as January of 2013. [Via WSJ and geek.com.]
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Video> Visit A Prefab In The Mojave Desert

On September 15th and 16th modular home builder Blu Homes is hosting its own home tour in Joshua Tree in the Mojave Desert. The three-bedroom house on view was factory built, transported by truck and recently unfolded on site (see video after the jump). Of course large windows, shaded outdoor spaces, and a constant connection to the outdoors work in other places too, but it's certainly dramatic in the desert. If you want to see for yourself, RSVP here (and bring your sunscreen). But how do you find the land to build a home like this? Blu and real estate site Redfin are teaming up to help potential buyers identify and buy properties on which to build their prefabs. This seems to have been the missing link for this type of home, so perhaps they're on to something?
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CUNY’s Brick Paneled Back-to-Schoolhouse to Open at WTC

In a neighborhood of glass and steel, Fiterman Hall stands out. The new building, part of the CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College downtown campus, is designed by Pei Cobb Freed and sits adjacent to the World Trade Center. The 17-story building is fronted in large prefabricated red-brick panels rhythmically relieved by square glass windows revealing multilevel interior atria. At a cost of $325 million, this is not your grandmother's little red schoolhouse. The vertical seams between the brick-faced precast panels betray the interlocking nature of classic red brick and the smooth prefab surface contrasts the tactile quality of hand laid masonry. Regardless, the panels certainly place Fiterman apart as an institutional structure amidst corporate America’s continued penchant for glass. Brick paneling is hardly new, but with prefabricated buildings making inroads, it’s hard not to view them as another form of value engineering requiring less union hands at the construction site. But David Sovinski, director of industry development for the International Masonry Institute (IMI), said that their membership doesn’t have a problem with the material. IMI is an alliance between the International Union of Bricklayers, Allied Craftworkers, and contractors who promote masonry construction. He noted that IMI union members are better trained to install the panels, as they are with most enclosure methods except glazing. Their main goal, regardless of the method, is to keep trained union hands on the site. “They get man hours off all kinds of construction,” said Sovinski. “You can always go to a factory in rural Pennsylvania for nonunion cheaper labor, but our training is more productive. If you use a trained craft person you don’t get callbacks to fix mistakes.” The completion of Fiterman Hall is probably one of the more high profile uses of the material in Manhattan, but with the Gotham West tower swiftly rising on Eleventh Avenue and 44th Street, it won’t be the largest. There, more than 1,200 apartments will stretch over almost an entire city block. Gotham’s 11th Avenue tower and midblock low-rise are already getting brick panels slapped on as fast as you can say "prefab." Once again, at Gotham, the panels appear smooth, uniform, and manufactured. “I prefer laid in place, I think it’s a better system,” admitted Sovinski. “When you see these fake solutions, it just looks poor.”
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LEAPfactory’s Gervasutti Refuge

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Built to withstand extreme weather conditions, the alpine pod explores new frontiers for prefabricated architecture

Climbers on the Freboudze glacier can now take refuge from the punishing terrain of the Italian Alps thanks to a new prefabricated shelter commissioned by Italian alpine club CAI Torino. The New Gervasutti Refuge, which cantilevers from the rocky landscape in front of the east face of the Mont Blanc Range’s Grandes Jorasses, was designed and fabricated by LEAPfactory, an Italian firm specializing in modular structures with low environmental impact.
  • Fabricator LEAPfactory
  • Designer LEAPfactory
  • Location Courmayeur, Italy
  • Status Complete
  • Materials Vinyl ester epoxy based matrix, E glass unidirectional fibers, PVC cores, polyurethane paints
  • Process Finite element analysis, resin molding, helicopter installation
LEAPfactory, whose name stands for Living, Ecological, Alpine Pod, began designing the shelter in 2009. Its construction bears little resemblance to that of traditional alpine structures; instead, LEAP used nautical and aeronautical fabrication techniques to create a self-sufficient pod that could withstand extreme high-altitude conditions. The team used finite element analysis to apply wind loads of up to 124 miles/hour and snow loads more than 26 feet deep, while keeping in mind the weight of furnishings and occupants inside. The structure’s primary components were prefabricated by infusing glass-fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP) into female molds with PVC cores. These pieces are glued together with methyl methacrylate-based adhesives. Luca Olivari, the project’s structural engineer, applied his expertise in designing boats and high-speed train components to the Gervasutti Refuge project. In a Q&A with Composites and Architecture, a blog by composite fabrication expert Bill Kreysler, Olivari said GFRP is an ideal material for extreme conditions because the fiber’s weight and orientation can be precisely defined in every area of the structure to support high concentrated loads. “The sandwich construction is the best way to absorb and distribute elastically the stresses of the wind gusts and the snow weight,” he said. Additionally, the components were strong and stiff enough to be transported by helicopter to the mountainside site. The shelter is designed for strength outside, but its high-visibility pattern, reminiscent of a classic ski sweater, is meant to welcome mountaineers—as are its interiors. Lit with daylight through a panoramic, anti-scratch acrylic window overlooking the valley below, the 250-square-foot pod has kitchen, dining and living areas, twelve bunks and storage space for gear, as well as a built-in weather monitoring station. Photovoltaic panels integrated into the hut’s outer shell produce 2.5 Kwh of solar energy. The entire structure weighs almost 3 tons and cost the equivalent of nearly $327,000. With individual modules designed for specific functions like eating or sleeping, LEAP’s design allows the pod to be rearranged or expanded over time. The design also allows for replacement of one module should it be seriously damaged. As the LEAPfactory team studies how their first installed shelter withstands conditions in its new home, they will be making plans to deploy similar helicopter-delivered structures in other mountainous locations—a reward for anyone willing to make the trip on foot.
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Prefab Alpolic Units: Rapid type and SUM

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A coffee stand prototype explores new possibilities for small-scale modular construction.

As part of a push to get its products into the hands of young architects, the Alpolic division of Mitsubishi Plastics sponsored a spring design/build studio entitled “Rapid type” at the California College of the Arts (CCA). The goal was for 15 students, led by CCA adjunct architecture professors Andre Caradec and Kory Bieg, to explore new design uses and assembly techniques for Alpolic aluminum composite materials (ACM), which are most commonly used for exterior cladding and signage. The students had at their disposal not only the school’s resources, but also those of Bieg’s San Francisco-based design and fabrication firm OTA+ and Caradec’s Oakland-based design and fabrication firm, Studio Under Manufacture (SUM). Given the college’s location at the nexus of a burgeoning San Francisco food truck scene and students’ proclivity for caffeine, the team landed on design of a mobile coffee service unit as a means of testing Alpolic’s limits.
  • Fabricators Rapid type, Studio Under Manufacture
  • Designers OTA+, Rapid type, Studio Under Manufacture
  • Location San Francisco, California
  • Status Prototype
  • Material Alpolic
  • Process 3-axis CNC mill
The team envisioned a structure that was reliable and cost-effective while bringing a higher level of design and prefabrication to the food truck industry, which has received a boost in Northern California due to relaxed permitting and code requirements. After feasibility and marketing studies, the team began to design a rolling steel structure wrapped in a waffle grid of Alpolic. The cart would shade employees inside while incorporating a wraparound counter that would allow customers to linger or talk shop with the barista after placing their order. Though an encircling plywood base supports the grid structure overhead, the interior is floorless; employees stand on the ground at the same level as patrons. “It also makes cleanup easier,” jokes Caradec. The 9-by-11-by-8-foot structure sits on industrial casters, allowing it to be pulled into place by a vehicle or by hand. The team designed the cart’s waffle grid in Rhino, with each rib section connecting the corresponding perpendicular section with a long notch. After assembling a scale cardboard model, fabrication of 80 ribs from sheets of 62-by-196-inch Mist White Alpolic began in SUM’s shop using a three-axis CNC mill. Exterior plywood shear panels and ribs for the counter and service window structure were milled on the same machine. Those ribs were then wrapped in waterjet-cut 16-gauge mild steel to create the completed work surface. Once interior Alpolic milling was complete, exterior plywood was installed over the hollow steel frame and final measurements for exterior ribs were verified before milling. After interior and exterior structures were built, the countertop structure was put into place. The entire project was manufactured and assembled in less than a week—in time for the students’ final review, complete with coffee service. Caradec’s firm recently applied a similar concept to a prefabricated studio. The design is the workspace version of the coffee station, an 8-by-10-by-8-foot-high office for a writer who requested that the space allow him to recline, sit, and stand during the workday. Like the coffee station, the box is built with white Alpolic sheets, but these have been routed on one side, then folded to create a faceted shape. Because of the panels’ construction, they create a hermetic exterior even after folding. A 14-inch marine-grade teak window wraps the structure, creating visibility from any position. The coffee station prototype design has already received attention from investors interested in putting a line of prefabricated food service stations into production. And other iterations, like the writers studio, could create a new generation of prefabricated structures for a range of applications. “The design can be based on the environment it’s going into,” says Caradec.
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Doban Architecture′s Academic Center: Think Fabricate

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A custom-built environment allows faculty and students to work collaboratively at a new academic center in the Bronx.

Doban Architecture has a longstanding history with Monroe College. In 2009, the Brooklyn-based firm founded by Susan Doban completed a modular pod design for the Bronx school’s loft-style dormitories at 565 Main Street, a building for which they had also worked on an award-winning facade restoration. Last fall, the firm completed a renovation of the school’s 2,360-square-foot academic center with a scheme that allows students and faculty to interact in a collaborative environment. Neither of these projects would have been possible without Think Fabricate, the firm’s sister company. Co-founded by Doban and Jason Gorsline in November 2009, the design studio handles design projects across a range of disciplines—furniture, product, graphic, and industrial—in addition to operating its own fabrication shop in a shared East Williamsburg workspace. The academic center’s mission of tutoring students in English and math challenged Think Fabricate to design furnishings that would create a functional environment for students and teachers, some of whom would have an office there. “The student body has a lot of adult learners and people taking classes in the evening,” said Doban. “The college wanted the academic center to be really appealing to students, and they wanted faculty to be drawn to the space as well.” Oriented in storefront spaces off the Main Hall’s corridor, the academic center is distinguished by dark colors and a new security and reception desk, while glass in a range of transparencies lets students see in and out. In the main workspace, laminate tables allow two students and a teacher to share a sliding white board or computer, for which each individual has his own keyboard. Group meeting tables are similarly designed for collaboration with a “headless” shape, where anyone can be seen as the table’s leader. Built-in maple and laminate seating nooks further encourage students to congregate and share ideas.
  • Fabricator Think Fabricate
  • Architect Doban Architecture
  • Location New Rochelle, New York
  • Completion Date September 2010
  • Material Panel-Lam, maple
  • Process CNC mill, table saw
Nearby, five prefabricated offices function as cubicles for faculty. “The appeal is that they don’t look like cubicles,” said Doban. Designed as one-on-one meeting spaces, each office has a built-in workstation and four walls, one of which is a sliding door mounted on Haefele hardware hidden in the header of the office system. The panelized walls are a combination of maple, chosen for appearance, price, and durability and milled with CNC equipment, and pre-laminated Panel-Lam sheets. As in its dormitory project, Think Fabricate opted to work with Panel-Lam because of its range of colors and textures coupled with its relatively low cost and durability. Because the material is slightly brittle, the approximately 4-foot-square, ¾-inch-thick sheets are cut with a table saw. “We try to minimize material waste so we weren’t really considerate of the grain directions at all times,” said Gorsline, whose background is in furniture design and fabrication. “It became another detail of the system.” Wall panels were prefabricated in the workshop, then attached with screws to wooden frames. Save for the corner office, the cubes are 6 by 8 feet, providing enough room for a student and teacher to sit comfortably. Hall-facing panels have windows to ensure the rooms are never fully closed off, and if the offices ever need to be moved or reconfigured, the system can easily be broken down and relocated. Doban and Gorsline see the prefabricated offices as a prototype design that could work in a range of settings; they plan to explore mass and limited production options in the future. In the meantime, they are perfecting the design by hand.
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Video: Chinese Hotel Climbs Fifteen Stories in Six Days

Would you stay in a 15-story structure built in six days?  Through the magic of prefabrication, one new hotel in Changsha, China was built erector-set-style at just such a fantastic pace and recorded through time-lapse photography. The better term might be constructed in six days, however, as the building's foundation and the factory-made pieces were already finished at the beginning of this architectural ballet, but the feat proves rather amazing nonetheless. While you might have never heard of Changsha, China, home to the new Ark Hotel, the country's 19th largest city mirrors the building's rapid growth.  Changsha tripled in size between the 1940s and 1980s and today contains an estimated population of 6.6 million. While such a quickly constructed building might seem prone to shoddy construction, the Ark Hotel is reportedly built to withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake, meaning a quake over 1,000 times more powerful than January's quake in Haiti.  Call us skeptical, but we'd opt to be out of the building when disaster strikes. Prefabrication, architecture's "oldest new idea," can have its green benefits. The Ark Hotel is thermally insulated and boasts only one percent construction waste. [ Via Gizmodo. ]
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Mind Your Manors

In these days of shrinking endowments, museums have to do what they can to make a buck. In the case of Delaware's Winterthur Museum, that means endorsing a new line of pre-engineered houses from Vermont company Connor Homes. The Winterthur estate, designed by antiques collector and horticulturist Henry Francis du Pont, now houses one of the country's most prized collections of Americana. According to Connor's press release, the design inspiration for its new line of homes will come from the museum's archives and from interpretations of the estate's architecture, which is based on that of 18th- and 19th-century English manors. Endorsements are nothing new for Winterthur: The estate's Licensed Products division has put its stamp of approval on sundry home furnishings, allowing it to maintain the museum and its educational programs. We'll be interested to see the house plans when they're rolled out this summer, but even more interested to see if architectural endorsements are the next big trend in home design ... not to mention museum solvency.