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Modular Construction being used more for Multi-family Housing

According to no less an authority than the New York Times, Modular Construction is being used more and more in the NYC area for Multi-family construction. And who are we to argue with the NYT?  We thought this was a good survey article about the state of our industry in the New York area. We at Capsys have been building Multi-family building for years.  We hope you enjoy the article.

 

Prefab Lives!

By ALLISON ARIEFF
 
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/23/prefab-lives/?emc=eta1
 
SHoP ArchitectsB2 by SHoP Architects is the first of three new residential towers planned for Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. At 32 stories, it will be the tallest modular building in the world.

It’s an exciting time for modular building, especially in New York, and as someone who has been deeply immersed in the world of prefabrication for over a decade, I am glad to see the much-maligned building technology finding its proper niche. It’s the killer app for the modular industry.

B2, a 32-story tower that is part of a 1,500-unit, mixed-use complex designed by SHoP Architects for Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards, will soon be the tallest modular building in the world. nARCHITECTS recently won adaptNYC’s competition to design a micro-unit apartment building, and will see its concept transformed into a 10-story building by 2015. It will be the first multiunit building in Manhattan to be built with modular construction. A variety of housing types, from single-family to midrise/mixed-use buildings, characterizes the over 300,000 square feet of modular housing that GRO Architects is designing in Jersey City and Baltimore. And THE STACK by GLUCK+, one of New York City’s first prefabricated steel and concrete residential buildings, will provide the city with 28 moderate-income apartments.

The Stack by GLUCK+ was one of New York City’s first prefabricated steel and concrete residential buildings and offers a new model for sustainable construction.
GLUCK+The Stack by GLUCK+ was one of New York City’s first prefabricated steel and concrete residential buildings and offers a new model for sustainable construction.

None of these architects are “prefab” architects, they’ve simply determined that for these projects, prefab makes the most sense. It’s the ideal application in terms of efficiency when building higher density and with that, the larger quantities of repetitive units.

Jackson Green in Jersey City, N.J., by GRO Architects features 22 attached single-family townhomes, which use modular construction to achieve sustainable and affordable housing.
GRO ArchitectsJackson Green in Jersey City, N.J., by GRO Architects features 22 attached single-family townhomes, which use modular construction to achieve sustainable and affordable housing.

As GRO’s Nicole Robertson says, “There is sheer economy of scale that emerges as we build a dense multifamily project, and it is the integration of digital technology on both the design and fabrication side that make the end product sustainable.”

Modular construction not only makes construction more precise, sustainable and economically efficient, it can help relieve New Yorkers (and of course, any other urban inhabitants) of the typical congestion and extended construction times associated with conventional building practices. “We believe a modular approach to high-rise housing will lead to a better quality of life for communities living near and around modular-based building sites,” says Gregg Pasquarelli, architect and principal of SHoP Architects. “Why shouldn’t we use assembly line techniques to build higher quality buildings? Modular construction offers the possibility of safer sites and better-manufactured buildings at standard construction costs. It’s a win-win proposition.”

nARCHITECTS’ Ammr Vandal concurs. Her firm’s micro-unit, she says, “makes a big impact with small moves. The smaller units are complemented by residential amenities provided in the building, promoting the concept of living beyond one’s four walls.”

Microunits in New York City designed by nARCHITECTS.
nARCHITECTSMicrounits in New York City designed by nARCHITECTS.

In contrast to regular old housing construction, which happens pretty much the same way it has for decades, if not a century, prefab has long been promising better design and innovation and — the key to its intrigue — a more affordable path to good architecture.

Much of that effort has been directed toward the design of single-family homes, what The Wall Street Journal described in 2004 as a “push to turn houses that come on trucks into objets d’art.” But using prefab for single-family homes, given the reality of current trends in financing, construction and development, will never quite achieve the desired goals of efficiency, affordability and good design. One custom prefab home is expensive and complicated to produce; the second one, less so. But it’s not until one can get to say, 20 or more homes that we’re looking at a new way of building. So single-family prefab remains largely in the realm of the prototype. Almost without exception, the wheel is at least partially reinvented every time.

Just over a decade ago, when I published my book “Prefab,” the potential for factory fabrication to improve housing was tenable (and explains why so many architects have been obsessed with taking on the challenge). But after I evangelized for years after about prefab’s transformative potential — including, while I was editor in chief of Dwell magazine, the introduction of an international home-design competition to design a modern affordable prefab home, which in turn led to the development of a line of Dwell-licensed prefab homes — one thing became clear to me: Prefab is best utilized in the design and construction not of single-family homes but of multifamily housing.

In 2004, over 500 people traveled to Pittsboro, N.C., to preview the Dwell Home by Resolution: 4 Architecture.
Bryan BurkhartIn 2004, over 500 people traveled to Pittsboro, N.C., to preview the Dwell Home by Resolution: 4 Architecture.

Absent economies of scale, the dreamed-of cost savings are basically impossible to achieve. Imagine building a custom car on a Ford assembly line and you can get a sense of how that might work. The repetition involved in creating a multi-unit building simply aligns with prefab’s capabilities in a way that single-family homebuilding does not.

Though prefabrication has a long history of capturing the public imagination dating at least as far back as Sears, Roebuck & Co., which sold nearly 100,000 houses by mail between 1908 and 1940, it has run up against numerous obstacles, from financing to factory standards to social stigma. And, despite a MoMA retrospective in 2008, that hasn’t changed much in recent years. The economic downturn of the mid-2000s decimated every part of the housing industry, and prefab was no exception. “When the credit market collapsed so, too, did the prefab market,” Leo Marmol of Marmol Radziner Architects (whose firm had been part of the Dwell prefab competition) told me recently. His firm, which had acquired and then shut down its factory facility) is today busy focusing on custom design work, using prefab only rarely.

Resolution: 4 Architecture is doing a healthy business in prefab homes like the Dune Road Beach House, which survived Hurricane Sandy with nary a scratch. They have been getting more and more queries for multi-family projects of late.
Resolution: 4 ArchitectureResolution: 4 Architecture is doing a healthy business in prefab homes like the Dune Road Beach House, which survived Hurricane Sandy with nary a scratch. They have been getting more and more queries for multi-family projects of late.

It’s not that architects shouldn’t use factory fabrication to design and build homes. Many do with great results. Yet architect-designed homes account for a scant 5 to 7 percent of the nation’s housing stock, architect-designed prefab ones even less. Multifamily opens the door for those numbers to increase. According to Joseph Tanney, the architect and principal of Resolution: 4, which focuses now on single-family prefab but is getting numerous inquiries about multifamily these days for everything from dorms to micro-units, “The residential modular industry is salivating at the prospect of building more multifamily projects. It’s a natural extension to think in terms of aggregation of the modules into higher density patterns, both architecturally and economically.

“I don’t think that they are just now discovering prefab for multifamily,” he continues. “It’s just taking time for it to evolve into a higher level of design.”

It’s a natural evolution for architects to seriously (once again) contemplate the use of prefab in multifamily applications. Thus far, other building sectors — commercial, institutional — have been, frankly, more innovative, more willing to embrace new tools like parametric software, which is used to create 3-D models that help orient buildings for optimal energy efficiency. Residential is playing catch-up on this and it’s about time.

More innovation in factory-produced housing, says GRO’s Robertson, “prevents the cookie-cutter sameness often associated with the process and allows for novel architectural form, nuance and variation” as well as efficiency. This is critical to moving from highly individuated single-family home design to multifamily buildings where individuality can find architectural expression.

Now that the market for housing has rebounded and indeed is booming in some cities, multifamily prefab makes sense for many reasons. The demand for rental housing is rapidly increasing as the interest in home ownership has waned post-housing bust. For the first time ever, California cities are seeing the need for more multifamily housing over single-family homes. And a recent study by Smart Growth America that examined three distinct housing development types revealed that mixed-use infill (when buildings are constructed to occupy the space between existing ones) produced 1,150 times more net tax revenue per acre than suburban development. The sort of community a growing percentage of the population is seeking takes the form of a denser, walkable urban neighborhood. Prefab can make that happen more quickly, efficiently and economically than conventional construction — and increasingly, it’s doing exactly that.

Capsys Builds an Apartment Building in One Day!


Setting of 315 Jerome Street Building – Time Lapse Video

On Thursday, May 2nd, we erected a nine-unit apartment building on Jerome St. in Brooklyn.  We showed you still photos a few weeks ago of the first of the two buildings going up on Linwood St.   Together, these two buildings make up the Cypress Gardens project we fabricated for the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation from a design by Magnusson Architecture and Planning.

For this building, we had such a pretty day that we had our good friend and professional photographer, James Shanks set up his time lapse camera so we thought we’d share James good work with you.

The nine modules were each 20’ x 47’ containing 940 sq. feet of area encompassing an complete 2-bedroom apartment.  The erection of the entire building was accomplished in one, 9 hour day.

This is the beauty of modular construction.  Not only do you get the precision of factory fabrication where the building construction takes place under roof in controlled conditions, but you save your neighborhood from months of disruption, dust, and noise by reducing the construction schedule to just one day!

“Off-Site Modular Construction Improves Quality and Safety of Projects”

We thought we’d share with you the following article from “Constructor” magazine, the magazine of The Associated General Contractors of America, the Construction Industry’s premier association for the nation’s largest and finest General Contractors.  It seems like everyone is coming around to the notion that we have held for years; that factory precision production of building  modules in combination with the services of a quality professional site contractor is the speediest, safest and best way to build buildings.  Call us to discuss your next project.

http://www.constructormagazine.com/index.php/2013/02/28/off-site-modular-construction-improves-quality-and-safety-of-projects/

We Have Reached a New Milestone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are excited to announce that Capsys has built a total of:

1,424  buildings

2,279  modules

2,571,489  modular square feet

We want to Thank Everyone who helped us to accomplish this!

City Council Tour

On a fact-finding tour of Capsys, members of the city council learn about modular construction in New York City at Capsys, the only modular manufacturer operating in New York City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pictured are:

Elizabeth Crowley, Councilmember

Nick Lembo, President of Capsys Corp.

Erik Martin Dilan, Councilmember

Tom O’Hara, Business Development at Capsys Corp.

Gale A. Brewer, Councilmember

Jumaane D. Williams, Councilmember

 

Winning Uses for Modular Construction from the World of Modular Annual Meeting of the Modular Building Institute

Recently we were fortunate enough to be a participant in the Modular Building Institute’s annual meeting they call the World of Modular held in mid-March in Scottsdale, AZ.  It was good to meet with over 540 of our colleagues working in the Modular building industry from across the US, Canada, Mexico Europe and China.  We shared many ideas and took away several new bits of wisdom.

While there, our Director for Construction Services, Dave Parlo and I gave a presentation about our winning entry – MyMicro NY – in the NY HPD RFP contest to design and build micro apartments in lower Manhattan.  This project has generated a lot of industry buzz and we were proud to share with our colleagues a little about that project and about how well received Modular Construction is in New York these days.

At this conference, MBI unveiled several willing entries in their annual search for innovative ways to use modular construction to solve specific project parameters.  We thought you might like to see some of these winning entries.  The like below is to an article placed by our friends a Building Design + Construction at their website.  Enjoy.

http://www.bdcnetwork.com/5-award-winning-modular-buildings?utm_campaign=BD%2BC%20Weekly%204%2F3%2F13&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_source=BDC%20eNews%20Weekly&utm_content=2981250

Our Friends Down Under Say “Modular Construction Becomes a Winner in Manhattan”

The folks at Australia’s DesignBuildSource.com – a leading source for industry information Down Under published the following.  And we’d like to thank them for their recognition and agree with them.  We have been seeing a lot of interest in our industry in the NYC area lately as the following illustrates.

 

http://designbuildsource.com.au/modular-construction-becomes-a-winner-in-manhattan

Modular Construction Becomes a Winner in Manhattan

Building at Inwood

Photo – Courtesy of Peter Gluck and Partners Architects and Jeffery M Brown Associates, LLC

The use of modular construction is becoming increasingly popular in New York City due to changes in public perception and greater enthusiasm for the practice amongst members of the building industry.

While New Yorkers have traditionally been averse to living in buildings fashioned from pre-fabricated parts due to the enduring association of such materials with cheap, low-end housing, its embrace by members at the upper end of the construction industry has engendered a sea change in attitudes.

New York City’s inaugural micro-unit apartment building design contest recognized an entry by Monadnock Development LLC, Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation and nARCHITECTS. Their winning project is set be the first multi-unit building to make use of modular construction.

The project, entitled My Micro NY, will see the construction of 55 micro-apartments on a site at 335 East 27th street in Manhattan, and is expected to be ready for occupancy by September 2015.

Towards the end of last year, Forest City Ratner also announced that it would use modular construction to build a residential tower at the Atlantic Yard development, situated in Brooklyn, as part of a major overhaul of the Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal Area.

According to one leader in the design and construction industry, people are slowly warming to use of modular building practices. David J. Burney, the commissioner of the New York City Department of Design and Construction, told the New York Times that despite its traditional lack of status attitudes towards modular building are fundamentally shifting.

“Historically, people have had negative associations with modular construction, and certainly within the design industry it didn’t have much cachet,” he said. “But there has been a sea change, and now there is much less of a distinction over whether a building has been assembled off-site or on-site.”

Developers have been among the first to embrace the potential of modular construction, with Capsys Corp, a manufacturer of steel-frame prefabricated buildings and modular homes based in New York, reporting that it receives “a dozen calls a week” from developers who are interested in what the new technology has to offer.

DeLuxe Building Systems, a veteran in the field pre-fabricated construction, is also working on several projects in New York at present, including an 11-storey rental building in Harlem. The company is also is currently in negotiations with a developer for the construction of two 24-storey rental high rises.

By Marc Howe

PUBLISHED ON 21 March 2013

New York City Modular Construction Summit

Source:

Modular Building Institute

http://modular.org/HtmlPage.aspx?name=NYC_Summit_MA

 

Modular Building Institute and Pratt School of Architecture to Host New York City Modular Construction Summit 

With interest in modular building in urban areas on the rise, the Modular Building Institute and Pratt School of Architecture will co-host a Modular Construction Summit in Brooklyn, New York on May 16, 2013, to help distinguish fact from fiction on this construction process.

Do modular buildings last as long as stick built? Are they less expensive? Can they be as attractive as their traditionally built counterparts? While the answer to all of these questions is yes, the summit will provide an opportunity for people to find out exactly why this is the case – and get answers on many more issues.

The event will feature two morning sessions with panels of high-profile architects and builders, as well as the Commissioner for the NYC Department of Design and Construction. In the afternoon, attendees can tour the factory of Capsys Corporation, the modular builder for the My Micro NY project – a 10-story Manhattan apartment building slated for occupancy in 2015.

Tom Hanrahan, Dean of Pratt Institute School of Architecture, will moderate the first morning session: Permanent Modular Construction for Multi-family Applications. Confirmed speakers include James Garrison, sustainable design pioneer and architect with Garrison Architects; Ian Peter Atkins, BIM Application Manager for architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates; and Tom O’Hara, Director of Business Development at Capsys Corporation.

The second panel, moderated by Modular Building Institute Executive Director Tom Hardiman, will focus on Modular Solutions for Disaster Relief and Emergency Housing. The confirmed speakers are David Burney, Commissioner, NYC DCC; William Begley, Director, Modular Housing and Hotels, Sea Box Inc.; Douglas Cutler, architect with Douglas Cutler Architects; and Norman Hall, National Manager for Factory Built Structures, Simpson Strong Tie.

Sponsored by Capsys Corporation and open to the general public, the event will take place at Pratt Institute, Higgins Hall Auditorium at 61 St. James Place in Brooklyn. Registration is $25 before May 10, and $35 thereafter. To register, please visit theMBI website.

 

Modular Housing and the Future of Affordable Housing in New York

Industry fights for affordable housing on multiple fronts Feb. 27, 2013
 Real Estate Weekly
Steven Spinola

President, Real Estate Board of New York

New York City needs more affordable housing and the Bloomberg Administration and the real estate industry are working towards ways of achieving that.

Recently, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced the winning bid to build a micro-unit apartment development. These new units-the size of a hotel room- will be part of an apartment tower built on city-owned land and would be the first in a wave of tiny apartments aimed at meeting the market need for more studio apartments. This PILOT project is intended to provide lower cost housing units that will enlarge the city’s inventory of housing and become a crucial aspect of new market rate projects in the future.

In addition to micro-units, modular or pre-fabricated construction, which has been around for years, could also become an effective way to address the demand for affordable housing. Building units in a quality-controlled, union run factory for most of the construction process will accelerate development, and increase safety which will make modular building an appealing alternative to conventional construction.

Modular construction is a process by which full sections of a building are built in a fabrication facility and then delivered to a project site where modules are erected and building systems are connected. Thus, construction work is split between the fabrication facility and the actual construction site.

In the past, modular construction did not catch on in New York because it was not designed for multi-family housing which is dominant here and it was antithetical to union labor, which is part of the DNA of New York’s multi-housing construction industry.

These issues were addressed by the Forest City Ratner Company (FCRC) who is using modular methods to build the first residential building at the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. In January, the Real Estate Board of New York testified in favor of modular building and FCRC’s project at a NYC Council Oversight Hearing on the Future of Prefabricated Construction Practices.

FCRC, a REBNY member, has worked tirelessly to adapt this method of construction for the type of multi-family housing that is commonplace in neighborhoods across our city and worked with our colleagues in unionized labor to keep the production of this housing both local and union. REBNY applauds these accomplishments.

Other benefits of modular construction includes less impacts on the surrounding community; reduced  traffic with fewer truck trips to and from the construction site since much of the construction is done elsewhere; and 70-90 percent less waste, according to estimates.

FCRC’s project holds the potential for more significant long-term benefits.  It could generate demand city-wide and throughout the region for more modular housing. If so, then the 125 union workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard associated with the FCRC project will only be the beginning.

Modular housing and micro-units can be an important and effective way to address our city’s chronic shortage of affordable housing by bringing the cost of new housing to a level that more New Yorkers can afford.

 

Three Story Building Erected in Just One Day!

The Linwood Street building, which is one out of three buildings of our Cypress Village project, was erected in just one day!  Joined by the owner and architect plus the local neighborhood residents, I watched in amazement as the building was set in place so quickly. This is just another example of the many important benefits of modular construction.