Major development: Forest City Ratner will restart work at the stalled B2 modular tower whose construction problems led to lawsuits between it and former partner Skanska.

It will start by “tightening up the tolerances” of the current top floor of modules, then it will realign some modules, and possibly lift and reset some modules with the crane, wrote the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Report, based on a construction bulletin. That will set the stage for stacking the next bunch of modules, to build the 11th, 12th and 13th floors.

Mind you, this doesn’t mean Forest City is admitting there’s an issue with the design, just that they’ve solved whatever the problem was.

Work will resume at the site on the first of April, weather permitting, the bulletin said. Click through for more photos of the stalled tower. We took them in late January.

Modules in B2 Prefab Tower Must Be Realigned [AYR]


driggs-pod-hotel-080713Another hotel is going up in Williamsburg, this one at Driggs Avenue and North 4th Street. The Pod Hotel will be the chain’s third outpost in New York (the other two are in Manhattan) and will have 200 rooms, Capital New York reported. Williamsburg is shaping up to be hotel central: This makes at least the fourth new hotel going into the neighborhood, which already has at least four others, including the Wythe Hotel and King & Grove. Designed by Garrison Architects, the Pod Hotel will be 50 feet tall with more than 100,000 square feet of space, said Curbed. It will also house retail, courtyards, a restaurant, bar, rooftop bars, and a rooftop garden. The architect is thinking of using modular construction to build the hotel, in which case it would be made of prefab 10-foot-by-30-foot components consisting of two rooms and a hall, Curbed reported. The B2 tower at Atlantic Yards is going to be 60 percent modular, potentially saving 15 percent in construction costs and four months of construction time, according to Capital New York. The downside of modular construction is that it wastes space with double ceilings and walls and can take place overseas, the story said.

New York Moves Into a Modular Construction Phase [Capital New York]
Rendering by Garrison Architects Via Curbed

Atlantic Yards Report spots building permits filed yesterday showing that Forest City Ratner is serious (at least on the paper-trail front) about using modular construction for the towers it will build at Atlantic Yards. AY Report notes: “However, the DOB has so far rejected the plans, including construction equipment, plumbing, and mechanical/HVAC. It’s unclear whether the DOB’s rejection is based on substantive qualms or less critical procedural issues.” Still, it’s rare to see the DOB approve a project when it’s initially filed, so the rejection might not mean much. The latest word from Forest City execs was that work on the first Atlantic Yards high-rise was supposed to begin in earnest early this year. As with the countless delays and setbacks the project has faced, it’s no surprise that the firm hasn’t made good on that yet.
Forest City Takes Firm Steps Toward Modular Plan [AY Report]
Forest City Still Mulling Modular Design for Atlantic Yards [Brownstoner]
Forest City and the Development of Prefab Plans [Brownstoner]

Atlantic Yards Report’s Norman Oder has an extremely in-depth look at a lawsuit between two companies that Forest City Ratner worked with that sheds light on how the developer has been examining using modular construction at Atlantic Yards. The lawsuit, which was settled in August with confidentiality clauses, was brought by a company called Kullman Buildings Corp. against a firm called XSite Modular. XSite is comprised of several former Kullman employees. The suit alleged that Forest City “was effectively able to circumvent Kullman’s refusal to turn over the ownership rights in this system by the fact that Kullman’s key employees collaborated a plan to work directly with FCRC under the formation of a new rival company.” XSite entered into a contract with Forest City early this year and the developer paid for XSite’s defense. Kullman, which had been working with Forest City for a couple years, had also been up for the contract, which involved helping the developer develop a system for designing and manufacturing heretofore-untested super-tall modular buildings. Here’s a bit of Oder’s analysis on what Forest City may have gained out of the whole deal: “[T]he deal XSite signed represented a significant discount, saving the developer $3 million for each of the first three planned towers, and more after that. Crucially, with that contract Forest City keeps full ownership of emerging intellectual property: the design of the system to produce modular units for buildings of such heights. Kullman had wanted to share ownership of such methodology.” It’s still unclear whether Forest City will use modular construction for the first residential tower at Atlantic Yards or for any of the subsequent skyscrapers planned.
The Secret History of Forest City’s Prefab Plans [AY Report]
Photo by Loozrboy