Modular construction has been heralded by many as the next big thing in building structures quickly and cost effectively. By being able to construct parts of the building in a controlled environment, like a factory, workers can perform more efficiently, comfortably, and safely, ideally translating into shorter schedules and smaller costs. That theory got one of its biggest tests on a new 32-story residential building that recently opened in Brooklyn, NY.
461 Dean Street, being heralded as the world’s tallest modular building, is a 363-unit residential tower located directly adjacent to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Designed by SHoP Architects, the tower design was expected to reduce construction costs by 20% and trim 10 months off of the proposed 30 month schedule, according to City Limits. Each modular section, of which there were 930, were built at a new factory at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and shipped to the site in a 10 foot high by 15 foot wide by 30 foot long chassis. The groundbreaking ceremony took place in December of 2012 and the building was scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014.
Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go as smoothly as everyone was hoping. For the past 4 years, the project has been plagued by delays, lawsuits, alleged design and construction issues, and water damage. According to documents obtained by City Limits, half of the first 39 apartments suffered “significant water damage,” which then lead to accusations from both the builder, Skanska, and the designer that the other was at fault. In the summer of 2014 reports surfaced that floors 2 through 8 all “suffered extreme water damage.” The damage caused considerable on-site rework, some mold growth, and additional delays. At one point, the factory left off some of the drywall of the new units, in fear that more water damage would occur. Other reports showed that the modular units were misaligned, even causing loose façade panels to visibly flap against the side of the structure. In September of 2014, Skanska closed the Navy Yard factory down, after the developer, Forest City, refused to pay additional costs for delays and other design problems, according to reports. You can read Skanska's 146 page contract termination letter here.
In January of 2015, around 4 months after the factory closing, Forest City reopened the factory and began building the modules again. In May of 2016, the tower’s final modular unit was set into place, according to Curbed. Though the schedule took around twice as long as originally planned and media outlets have projected budget overages of millions of dollars, the building is almost ready to welcome its firs residents.
As of November, leasing options are available for potential residents and media members were able to tour the new building. You can check out a virtual tower of some units, put together by Inhabitant, below this article. Many of the units boasts some impressive views of both the city skyline and the Barclays Center green roof.
Through it all, the 32-story building still managed to open and currently have apartments available for lease. Although your company should be counting its blessings that they didn’t have to be involved with this project, this isn’t a story that should discourage modular construction from continuing in the future. Though modular construction has been talked about for a long time, it’s still a fairly new concept in implementation, especially on the level of 461 Dean Street. Contractors, developers, and designers alike can use this project as a learning experience for additional modular buildings. As the concept becomes more commonplace, we should expect project timelines and costs to shrink considerably.
More Information: Documents Reveal Woes at Pioneering Atlantic Yards Building | City Limits
When construction companies initially started to adopt mobile technologies like tablets and smartphones, there was a race between many construction technology companies to be the future leader in the area. As the years rolled on, it became less and less likely that one app was going to be the end-all-be-all, like AutoCAD became in the architectural design world. There’s not one app out there right now that provides every single function that a construction company needs, because each company is very unique. The solution? Integration.
[guest post] A punch list is a vital part of a construction project’s contract. It helps ensure that the contractor has completed the project in a satisfying manner and that all issues, such as damage to any structures as well as incomplete or incorrect installations, are taken care of before being paid.
Communication is key to a safe and productive construction environment. One of the biggest challenges of effective communication on job sites is the complexity and size of the project, which inhibits being able to contact the correct people in a timely manner. Tracking devices have been a hot button issue in construction news for the last few years. Some examples include RFID tag sensors in hard hats, such as the one being used on certain job sites in Washington DC and time sheet applications, which allow employers to track their employee’s locations using the GPS on their phone’s or tablets.
[guest post] The progress of construction sites is usually captured by taking still photos of different areas that have been subject to change. Documenting a full construction site requires a lot of pictures (usually more than ten per room), and even then not every corner of a room can be captured.
Augmented and Virtual Reality has always been designated for large headsets. Even with recent developments in the construction industry, like Microsoft Hololens and the DAQRI Smart Helmet, if you want to experience AR, you have to get used to wearing something you’re not used to around a job site. As cool as both of those technologies are, it seems that the ole trusty smartphones and tablets have been overlooked. A Danish BIM company has developed a smartphone and tablet application that leaves the headsets behind.
For many construction superintendents and project managers across the world, tablets are becoming one of the most important tools on the job site. They’re great for looking at plans, taking pictures, making notes, and running your favorite construction apps. Carrying a tablet does take up at least one of your hands, however, so it can be a hindrance if you need to help a co-worker lift material or climb a ladder.
According to OSHA, more than 40 percent of all heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry. Many more workers also become ill from extreme heat and humidity. With summer now in full effect, it’s time to re-evaluate your personal steps for keeping safe in the heat and how your company is going to help their employees stay safe.
On Tuesday, June 20, OSHA is set to propose a delay on new requirements for cranes and derricks in the construction industry at a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH).
Trenches are dangerous, but many companies and workers continue to deny it. Or their actions make it seem like they do, at least. There’s never an excuse to let someone into a hole if it hasn’t been properly sloped, benched, or shored. Nevertheless, dozens of construction workers are killed and injured by trench collapses every year.
In order to get the bad taste of last week’s botched demolition, in which an adjacent building also got destroyed in the process, we needed to share a highly successful one. Priestly Demolition, a Canadian demolition contractor, has been the subject of our articles in the past and the company has even won awards for the best demolition in the world.