New York is set to become home to the world’s tallest modular building.
A groundbreaking ceremony attended by Mayor Michael Bloomberg saw the first earth turned on the 32-storey, 340,000 square foot residential tower, which will be known as B2. The building is part of a large mixed-use development by Forest City Ratner Companies and is being built on the 22-acre Atlantic Yards site.
“B2 is really a remarkable building,” said Forest City Ratner Companies chairman and CEO Bruce Ratner. “Designed by SHoP Architects and with Arup as the engineers, this will be the tallest building in the world using modular technology, and I must tell you that it will also be beautiful.”
Ratner added that the building will prove that modular buildings do not require compromises when it comes to the quality of design.
“This type of construction is very exciting, but what is most important, and what I care most about, is that it’s affordable – that is the most important thing,” he said.
The project started off as a research study to determine how modular construction techniques could be optimized for a high-rise application in New York City. A desire to minimise the impact on the community and the state of the local construction market has driven a need to focus on engineering solutions which could maximise the extent to which the modules could be completed in a controlled factory environment to ensure construction safety, efficiency and speed.
Modular buildings built in New York City must meet standards laid out in the NYC Building Code as well as all fire and life safety codes. Modular construction is safer to build than conventional construction as it reduces work at heights and removes environmental factors such as snow, ice, water and mud. On-site workers are also safer as they are primarily working within finished, enclosed portions of the building, away from the typical risks of an open construction site.
Each unit will be a fully-equipped apartment, with the units stacked and bolted together at the construction site. The team has been able to reduce the construction schedule from 28 months to just 18 months.
Given that much of the work will take place off-site, there will be significant reduction in truck traffic, noise and dust in the community surrounding the project site. It is also estimated that modular construction will result in 70 to 90 per cent less waste than traditional construction. B2 is expected to achieve LEED® Silver certification.
Building Information Modelling (BIM), in both 3D and 4D, was central to the design process, allowing for a truly collaborative approach and ensuring decisions could be made instantaneously to enable the tight construction sequencing.
Forest City and Skanska have set up a joint venture FC + Skanska Modular LLC to assemble the modules, which will be fully fitted out in the factory, complete with interior finishes, MEP and facade systems. They will be delivered to the site on a flat-bed truck where they will be stacked and connected.
Construction on the site is expected to be completed in 2014.