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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.

 

More Modular Buzz

IT’S A MOD, MOD, MOD, MOD WORLD

 

Forest City Ratner’s modular building in Brooklyn garnered big headlines last year, but aspects of modular construction are becoming increasingly common across the city–and the world

By Al Barbarino 7:00am

http://commercialobserver.com/

madworld

Two years ago, Bruce Ratner sought to ease a shrinking budget and appease swarms of critics who lambasted the original rendering for a residential tower at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn as a “Lego-like” atrocity.

Like a frustrated schoolboy, he punted the plans to erect a set of oddly arranged giant blocks, shoving designer Frank Gehry aside and bringing in a team of modular consultants who—ironically, given the reputation of modular buildings—transformed the blueprint into a much sleeker 32-story structure.

“It will be beautiful,” Mr. Ratner said at the groundbreaking last month. “You do not have to compromise on design when you build modular, and this building will prove that.”

The success of the B2 building, set to become the tallest modular building in the world, will serve as a catalyst for the growth of modular construction among high-rise and commercial buildings, a market that has exploded elsewhere in the world and that modular builders in the United States have hoped to tap into for years.

The project also highlights the growth of modular design across property types throughout New York City, as real estate companies look to trim costs and save time by incorporating modular methods into commercial buildings, using prefabricated façades, paneling, doors, roofing and computerized interfaces.

“There is no such thing as site building anymore,” said Tom O’Hara, director of business development at Capsys Corporation, a modular builder. “Every single site is using prefabricated construction. Something is componentized, whether it’s the roofing or the doors. Modular takes that one step further—it’s the zenith of that process.”

The 32-story, 363-apartment B2, which will almost rub up against the new Barclays Center, is one of 15 modular towers said to be coming to the site. Like other modular buildings, much of it is being manufactured in a factory setting, and it will eventually be hauled nearly two miles from the Brooklyn Navy Yard and snapped together on-site.

It’s unlikely that 32-story modular buildings will begin popping up across the city anytime soon, but Mr. Ratner’s decision shines a spotlight on a building method that has existed for decades.

Proponents of the method have treated modular design as gospel for years, and real estate industry professionals (even those not directly involved in modular building) agree that the cost and time savings afforded in smaller-scale projects translates into larger, taller buildings.

“It’s one of the best-kept secrets in the real estate industry, but I think that this building will change that,” said Amy Marks, owner and president of XSite Modular, the modular consultant on the Atlantic Yards project. “If you’re building a building today and not considering some sort of modular or prefab, you’re missing out on a tremendous value.”

Modular buildings consist of multiple sections, or modules, that are built in a remote facility and then delivered to a construction site and assembled. Because components are created in a factory setting, the method can save time, money and reduce water and energy consumption.

Modular builders procure less-expensive materials from a range of global distributors. While the controlled assembly line-like environment offers factory workers a steady 9 to 5, they are generally paid much less than their on-site counterparts. On-site carpenters earn as much as $50 more in wages and benefits, some experts said.

Consultants on the B2 project have said modular design will shave 10 months off of the 28-month construction schedule, and others said a fully modular design could cut the schedule by as much as 50 percent.

“Whether that means hospital are getting patients into beds sooner, or landlords getting tenants faster, that makes a big difference,” Ms. Marks said.

The B2 isn’t the first building to thrust modular design into the public eye. In 2009, a 24-story, $34 million high-rise dormitory was completed in Wolverhampton, England, in less than 12 months, becoming the tallest modular building in Europe. And several years ago, China set off a firestorm in the industry when it started building modular hotels and completing the projects in a matter of days.

The 902 modules used in the Wolverhampton tower and adjacent low-rise units were constructed in Cork, Ireland, before being transported to the construction site, culminating in 657 student bedrooms and 157 postgraduate apartments. The construction would have taken twice as long using conventional on-site methods, its developers said at the time.

The new 69,000-square-foot mid-rise Lehman College Science Building, designed by Perkins + Will, is another modular building drawing attention locally; it is expected to become the first LEED-certified building in the City University of New York system. The 13,000-square-foot Lehman College Child Care Center, designed by Garrison Architects and completed last year, is also modular.

But prefabrication techniques are also being incorporated into conventional buildings throughout New York City, even if the buildings’ structure itself isn’t modular, with builders using factories with lower costs to prefabricate kitchens, bathrooms, paneling and the like. Others are being built as hybrids between modular and conventional buildings.

For example, the Cambria Suites Hotel, being built by Capsys Corporation in White Plains, N.Y., will stack five modular hotel suites atop three site-built floors. Last summer, the firm also built the MacDougal Street Apartments, a six-story, 65-unit supportive housing facility at 330 MacDougal Street in Brooklyn—which took a total of 12 days to complete. The firm’s factory employs about 70 workers year round, five days a week.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, it doesn’t matter if it’s snowing. And all of their tools are right there. It’s very comfortable work compared to on-site construction work,” Mr. O’Hara said. “Those trade guys work hard and they earn their money … it’s hard being a trade guy. We try to streamline it and make it good work for people, make it comfortable.”

While modular building dates back at least a century, it gained national attention as troops returned home after World War II, when it became the preferred building method for housing in rural and suburban settings across the United States.

The 1960s and 1970s gave rise to more complicated designs as consumer demands became more sophisticated, and in the 1980s, even more intricate modular homes began to take shape across the Northeast, in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and, to a lesser degree, New York.

“The New Jersey suburbs are full of beautiful, custom-designed houses that were executed in modular factories,” Mr. O’Hara said.

Slowly, modular seeped into the commercial industry, becoming popular for building low- to mid-rise structures—affordable housing, hospitals and other medical facilities, schools and office complexes—with companies like Capsys, Deluxe Building Systems and NRB among those paving the way in the Northeast.

But it was buildings like the one in Wolverhampton and those in China that highlighted the dreams of modular hopefuls and captured real estate’s collective psyche, slowly convincing developers like Mr. Ratner that modular is viable for high-rise buildings. Mr. Ratner admitted that a YouTube video of the 15-story Ark Hotel being erected in China in two days (the building was ultimately completed in six) was the last straw.

“That was the icing on the cake,” Mr. Ratner told The New York Observer in December 2012.

In December 2011, Broad Sustainable Building Corporation, the same company that built the Ark, completed the 183,000-square-foot, 30-story Tower Hotel just outside Yueyang in China’s Hunan Province in 15 days. It was reportedly built to withstand a magnitude-9.0 earthquake.

Given the space constraints in a city as densely packed as New York City, transporting modular buildings to certain parts of the city is simply impossible—and adding modular components into a renovation project can be a insurmountable challenge as well (imagine trying to haul four stories of a Midtown high-rise through the Holland Tunnel, or hoisting fully constructed kitchens into an existing office building).

But most agree that incorporating at least certain elements of modular design is beneficial, with firms across the city opening up to the idea.

“It’s something that needs to be embraced, just like any other option we have in our arsenal,” said Scott Spector, a principal at the architectural firm Spector Group. “I think there are pieces of it we can use, and we’ve definitely incorporated it, but it depends on the aesthetics and the type of space.”

Mr. Spector believes warehouse and suburban office environments are ideal for modular building. It also has its place in larger commercial buildings, in terms of sophisticated video teleconferencing or “telepresence” units, and for certain specialty conference rooms that incorporate glass partitioning not built on-site.

“You would never know it wasn’t built on-site with five different trades coming in,” Mr. Spector said. “Instead the panels are made in a factory … and there’s no way you can tell if it was done on-site.”

But Mr. Spector remains skeptical about its use in commercial high-rise buildings. The “menu” of options a modular builder can provide often do not fulfill the requirements of owners—or the creative aspirations of conventional architects, he said. It’s something like being limited to the dollar menu at McDonald’s—it’s definitely cheaper, but it’s not surf and turf.

“You lose the more detailed design and customization options, and that is one of the things that make modular design difficult in a commercial setting,” he said. “I just can’t tell you that they would give me all of the options that I want … it doesn’t lend itself to the type of architecture on these custom-designed office buildings being built in the city.”

Some union workers fear that the rise of modular skyscrapers could mean fewer hours as they’re replaced by factory workers. Forest City Ratner worked closely with New York City building trade unions to address those concerns, striking an agreement that B2’s fabrication facility will employ 125 union workers earning $55,000 per year (about 25 percent below the average construction wage).

The B2 agreement reflects an “innovative approach to development that will allow us to realize the vision of the Atlantic Yards project and create traditional construction jobs that may otherwise have been at risk,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, when the deal was announced.

Mr. O’Hara, the director of business development at Capsys Corporation, agreed.

“To a certain degree, our people used to work in the field,” he said. “There’s no reason a carpenter or electrician working in the field can’t come work for a company like ours.”

 http://commercialobserver.com/2013/01/its-a-mod-mod-mod-modular-world/

Sandy Reconstruction Considerations

Our prayers go out to those who have been affected by our recent hurricane Sandy disaster.  As people look toward rebuilding efforts, many folks have called us here at Capsys.  Modular construction is obviously stronger and inherently more “floor resistant” to use a FEMA phrase simply due to the suite of materials we use and to the strength we build into our modules due to our transport requirements.  However, more than just the materials to be used in the new structure need to be considered.  The supporting foundation system should also be modified when building in flood-prone areas.

We decided to post two documents here about both design considerations and about substructure considerations.  The first is a FEMA document published in 2008  entitled “FEMA Flood Resistant Materials” which discussed various options you might consider including in your reconstruction efforts.  The second is a reprint from “Structure Magazine” called FEMA 550 and is an article that attempts to interpret a very technical FEMA structural engineering document so we non-engineers can understand it.

 Please continue to call us with any questions you have and we will continue to try to assist our neighbors who received damage from Sandy.

FEMA 550

FEMA Flood Resistant Materials 2008 doc

Greenpoint Comfort Station in Brooklyn is Now Open to the Public.

 Check out the latest photos taken on January 2, 2013.

“Hurricane Sandy Housing Lessons: How to build a Better Home”

Hurricane Sandy has brought misery to many folks in the NY, NJ area.  Many of us at Capsys had damage to our homes though thankfully our facilities were spared any significant damages.  As people begin to think about rebuilding, we think they should keep in mind the advantages modular construction can bring to the rebuilding process.  Many of these advantages are spoken to in the following article by Sheri Koones.  Sheri is the author of six books on home construction, four of them on prefabricated construction. She has won two Robert Bruss Gold Book awards by the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Her latest book, Prefabulous + Almost Off the Grid: Your Path to Building an Energy-Independent Home, was released in October.

http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2012/11/05/hurricane-sandy-housing-lessons-how-to-build-a-better-home/

NY1 about Modular Construction

 

By: Monica Brown

Modular construction may soon catch on in the city, but a Brooklyn factory has been building homes, floor to ceiling, for 16 years. NY1′s Monica Brown filed the following report.

 

Modular construction can have a house almost entirely built in a factory. The pieces are brought on trucks to their final destination, and the finishing touches can be done on-site. This method could mean big cost savings for the Big Apple, where experts say construction costs are skyrocketing.

“Housing is becoming out of reach for too many New Yorkers,” says New York Building Congress President Richard Anderson. “And if this could bring down the cost somewhat, then a significant sector of the New York City population might have a chance to buy or to rent an apartment.”

In Fort Greene, Brooklyn, Capsys Corp. has been building modular homes for 16 years in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Its affordable housing units, assisted living facilities, hotels and more other buildings are dropped off at sites in all five boroughs and beyond.

Company officials say the average savings can be 5 to 20 percent with modular construction, and that business has been picking up a lot in the last several years.

“Some of that is because we’re coming out of the recession and we’re seeing more activity, but a lot of is it really is just catching on. We like to say that we’re the oldest brand-new idea in construction,” says Tom O’Hara, the director of marketing at Capsys.

Forest City Ratner Corporation might also be trying to change minds. It announced last year that it may look to build the world’s largest modular tower at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. The company declined to be interviewed for this story.

But New York Building Congress officials tell NY1 that project, and other modulars like it, might go a long way toward helping to keep New York’s building industry competitive.

“Innovation in the construction industry is always important because we’re the highest cost construction market in the country, and we are encouraging our members to look for ways to economize, to look to do things differently, and in a better way,” says Anderson.

http://www.ny1.com/content/ny1_living/real_estate/170975/bit-by-bit–builders-come-to-appreciate-modular-construction