Decoding Design

NYC SHoP Architects take modular construction to new heights

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The Atlantic Yards design and development team reveal plans for what would be the world's tallest pre-fabricated tower.

Designs for the the first residential building at the Atlantic Yards project in New York revealed what would be the world's tallest prefabricated tower. The B2 condo building, sitting next to the Barclays Center, will be 32 stories tall and make up 340,000 square feet of residential space.

Modular construction reduces material waste, costs, and time, and is energy efficient. But the system loses economical advantages in tall buildings since towers require lateral bracing (to protect from wind shear and seismic forces), which means more structural material and more waste.

To arrive at the decision to build modular, the design and engineering team, ShoP Architects, Arup engineering, and XSite modular, developed two parallel building designs, one using a modular system and one in pre-cast concrete. The team found the modular option would cost 15 to 20 percent less than a traditional pre-cast system and produce 70 to 90 percent less waste. Reduction in energy use was calculated at 67 percent.

The modular, prefabricated design includes 950 steel frame modules, complete with electric and plumbing hookups. One innovation to the modular process is placing the structural connections on the outside, allowing for easier assembly. The design team's biggest challenge is to devise the modular bracing system.

Forest City Ratner, the developer, expressed every confidence that the team would "crack the code" of building a tall, modular residential tower with adequate yet economical bracing.

2012 is the targeted groundbreaking for B2, with an ambitious completion schedule of 18 months.

ShoP Architects focus on design and development projects that consider not just the physical but also the economic context. The architects have also been shortlisted for Chicago's Navy Pier development.

via: NYTimes, Curbed

Image: SHoP Architects

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Sun Kim

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sun Joo Kim is an architect and creative consultant based in Boston. Her projects include design and master planning of museums, public institutions, hospitals, and university buildings across the U.S. She holds a degree from Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure