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Detroit turns shipping containers into condos

Posting in Architecture

We've seen a shipping container Starbucks, office building, and hotel. Now, Detroit is the latest to join the recycled shipping container architecture fad.

The condo development, known as Exceptional Green Living on Rosa Parks, is a four-story, $2.3 million, 20-unit development that will break ground next month near Wayne State University in midtown Detroit.

When it's finished (sometime next year) it will be the first multifamily housing complex built in the United States.

Leslie Horn, CEO of Three Squared, which is developing the project, has high hopes for shipping container architecture, Detroit Free Press reports:

If successful, the prototype project in Detroit could lead to widespread other uses of empty containers, Horn said, including student or emergency housing, temporary construction offices, and infill houses in urban neighborhoods.

Horn is already looking ahead to similar projects in other cities. She added, "We believe it's just the beginning of the capacity of our company."

Not surprising, then, her company has invested more than $100 million in modular projects across the United States.

On the other hand, I'm a bit skeptical. I love that these projects use less waste on construction and make use of shipping containers (there are over 700,000 unused shipping containers sitting in port cities across the United States, by the way). But actually purchasing a shipping container condo? I get that one of the benefits of container architecture is how versatile they are. But, if I were making a real estate investment, that would be the problem. Even if it does cost 5 percent less than condos of a similar size.

Still, it's an innovative project (here are more images) and, hey, it's better than an empty lot.

Shipping containers get recycled for residences in Midtown Detroit [Detroit Free Press]

Photo: Steven C. Flum, Inc.

— By on November 16, 2012, 3:10 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure