Earlier this year, I posted about a
30 story hotel that was erected in 15 days. Now, a
subsidiary of that company, Broad Sustainable Building, wants to
erect the world's largest skyscraper in just 90 days. At
2,749 feet tall, the project known as "Sky City" will
eclipse Dubai's Burj Khalifi by some 27 feet. More
impressive, it will take approximately five years LESS time to
build than Burj Khalifi. The project, located in Changsha,
China, is expected to begin foundation work this month, with actual
construction beginning in 2013.
Such breakneck speeds for a building of this magnitude is
remarkable. When I originally posted about the T30A Hotel
Tower, I posited the questions "One has to wonder if this will
be imported to the United States? Prefabricated pieces
shipped to the United States for assembly on site. Or, will
we start to see buildings prefabricated in much the same way, from
pieces built in the United States?" Well, it did not
take long to answer those questions.
Engineering News-Record is reporting that
Forest City Ratner Companies has been given approvals to construct
a 322 foot modular residential tower at the Atlantic Yards site,
known as the B2 Residential Tower.
The project is also the catalyst for the formation of a modular
division within the Building and Construction Trades Council of
Greater New York, which represents local unions. In a major
departure from the norm, the trade council's new division will
allow crews from many different trades—electricians,
plumbers, ironworkers, carpenters, painters and more—to work
together in multi-trade teams in the plant.
Each team will assemble a complete apartment unit. "This is
not assembly-line work," says Robert P. Sanna, director of
construction and design development for Atlantic Yards'
developer, Forest City Ratner Cos. (FCRC). "Everybody is
touching everything within a unit, including the curtain wall, and
each crew is responsible for an entire unit."
Gary LaBarbera, the trade council's president, says the new
modular division and its new type of collective bargaining
agreement address an industry evolving toward modular and make the
building trades more competitive against non-union workers.
"We're seeing more and more modular units and prefab
subassemblies in certain types of buildings," he says.
"This concept will be a job creator, not a reducer, and will
increase our market share in residential work."
Is modular construction the wave of the future? Modular
units made in a factory setting are free from weather delays, boast
a higher level of quality control, and are often safer for the
worker. Time will ultimately tell if this will be the new
normal, or merely a pre-fabricated fad.
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