Friday, June 23, 2017

Europe's Tallest Modular Tower Almost Completed

Construction of B2 BKLYN, the tallest modular tower ever attempted in the US was at a standstill after developer Forest City Ratner Companies and construction company Skanska USA sued each other.

Today B2, the modular tower located at 461 Dean Street, next to the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, is completed and open. However the total project got bad press almost from the start. Unions sought to block it, building tolerances were off and a dispute between the developer and the builder stopped it for quite some time.

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But things work a little different “across the pond” in London. With London’s growth pushing the city skyward, news that a 28-story student dormitory is nearing completion won’t grab many people’s attention.

However once you look closely at the Apex House structure you will notice that it a real modular commercial modular work of art.

According to Rory Bergin, an architect with the UK firm HTA Design, which designed the project, the building exemplifies the economical and environmental advantages of this style of construction. The volumetric assembly style has been called “scaled-up Lego bricks,” and offers a speedy, cost-effective way to add dense, vertical housing to cities.

Assembled at the Vision Modular Systems factory in Bedford, 15 miles outside of the capital—every individual room was pre-made, with furniture and decorations as well as the bed and closet already installed before it left the assembly line—the 560-room student dorm was built a year faster than a similar-sized structure using traditional methods, and is now the tallest modular tower in Europe.
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After the concrete core was put together on site in the London borough of Brent, modules, or “boxes,” were trucked in and then assembled atop a concrete base, with a facade of glass-reinforced concrete panels added for the final touch. Up to 60 boxes were added per week. After the final floor was placed in April, the building is on track to open for the new school year in September.
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Factory assembly not only accelerates construction, but offers a number of environmental benefits. By centralizing production, travel and delivery time of the completed modules, carbon emissions from transportation are cut.

Factory quality control enables the builders to standardize and achieve tighter building envelopes, allowing for more energy-efficient units. The building and construction waste from this project was one-tenth that of typical construction site construction. The construction noise in the neighborhood is also reduced. There are many aspects of modular that bring benefits that normally aren’t considered with standard building criteria.”
Eventually European factories will crack the 30- and even 40-story barrier.

In the US, modular steel construction is making major inroads into bigger and taller buildings. The residential/commercial wood framed modular factories are also pushing deeper into site construction’s commercial business with big projects already completed and even bigger ones in the planning stage.

With all this happening in Europe one has to wonder why commercial steel modular factories like Markline and DeLuxe recently closed their doors.

Maybe the US isn’t quite as advanced as other countries when it comes to large modular towers.

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