Assembly (and rigorous planning) required: Managing pros and cons of modular construction
August 16, 2018
August 16, 2018
While offering efficiency and flexibility, modular construction requires extensive planning and collaboration to avoid potential challenges
As a buildings engineer, I’ve had the fulfilling opportunity to travel for work, experiencing new cities, learning about emerging building techniques, and seeing firsthand how new projects play an important role in complementing the fabric of a community. But it’s not often that I can say my projects are also certified globetrotters.
New York City’s largest modular hotel, the CitizenM Hotel on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, is just that: The project concept originated in Amsterdam, was built in Poland, shipped to Brooklyn in 300 pieces, and then assembled in its permanent home in the Bowery neighborhood. Clocking in at 20 stories tall with 300 guestrooms, the CitizenM is a prime example of how modular can be leveraged on a large scale.
Modular construction—a building process where building components are fabricated off-site in a controlled manufacturing setting, and then constructed on-site—is rising as a construction strategy here in the US after years of popularity in Europe. Valued for offering greater efficiency and quality control, modular construction is gaining ground across all property types, from multi-family and hospitality, to education and lab space.
The CitizenM Hotel and projects like it are paving a new frontier in the US for more efficient and flexible construction. In fact, industry observers expect the number of new commercial projects delivered via modular construction in North America to nearly double over the next five years.
But with such great advantages comes potential challenges that all project teams should prepare for to ensure success.
Valued for offering greater efficiency and quality control, modular construction is gaining ground across all property types.
We often field questions from clients across the country considering whether modular construction is the right fit. The technique certainly allows for several advantages as outlined below:
While there’s much to be said about the benefits of modular building, there can be downfalls if the team isn’t prepared to manage the increased need for collaboration and logistical planning. Our team has learned a great deal through partnering on modular projects to anticipate inherent challenges such as:
With the growing need for innovative building tactics, modular construction presents a very welcome solution for many property developers seeking greater control, efficiency, and productivity. This is especially the case with smaller hotel guestrooms and residences, when design can utilize typical floor plans where the same stacked architectural layouts can take full advantage of vertical infrastructure.
Through proper planning and the ability to be nimble, project teams will find that modular creates great opportunity for creativity and successful delivery.