Modular construction, on paper, should vastly speed up the process of construction as well as increase the quality. Sections or rooms of buildings are pre-assembled in an environmentally controlled room offsite and then shipped to site as needed. In reality, though, there are many challenges that have kept this type of construction from being more popular. That doesn’t scare hotel giant, Marriott, though, as they are currently underway on the world’s tallest modular hotel.
Beginning in fall of 2019, Marriott has stated that the 168 pre-furnished and prefabricated guest rooms will be stacked within a 90 day period. After the rooms are installed, the building will be topped with a modular roof and rooftop bar. Once opened in late 2020, the hotel, called AC Hotel New York NoMad, will reach 360 feet tall across 26 stories.
There are some areas in the hotel that will be built using traditional methods, however, including the hotel restaurant and lobby.
"In North America, the construction process hasn't changed significantly in 150 years and it's ripe for innovation," said Eric Jacobs, Marriott International, Chief Development Officer, North America, Select and Extended Stay Brands in a press release. "The world's tallest modular hotel in one of the world's greatest destinations will act as a game-changing symbol to ignite even greater interest in modular among the real estate and lending industries."
Marriott has been a leader in recent years in modular hotel construction, according to the press release. They began researching the method in 2014 and a year later began educating owners, franchisees, architects, general contractors, and others about the benefits through factory tours and stacking events. So far, 31 different Marriott-brand hotels have incorporated some type of modular prefabrication into their construction.
Modular construction certainly makes a ton of sense in an area like New York City. Getting materials to site, hauling off debris, and dealing with the tight quarters on-site can are just a few of the many difficulties of working in a bustling downtown.
Although modular construction can alleviate some of the hardships mentioned above, it does have many of its own challenges, highlighted best by another record breaking modular building in New York City, 461 Dean Street. That 32-story project, which is advertised as the current world’s tallest modular building, was supposed to shave 10 months off of the project’s 30 month schedule, but a series of delays, lawsuits, and alleged design and construction issues turned the 2 year project into a 4 year project. For more information on that project, click here.
As more and more designers and contractors begin working with modular construction, many of these challenges will be solved. It’s a completely different way to design and construct a building, so it’s nice that there are companies out there leading the charge, so their buildings can be used as a learning example for future modular buildings.