We took a tour around Forest City Ratner’s fascinating modular apartment factory at the Navy Yard yesterday, where reps from FCRC said they’ll begin shipping out the fully constructed units next week. They’ll stack the units to create the first Atlantic Yards residential tower, the 32-story building under construction next to the Barclays Center that is known as B2. When work finishes next year, the 363-unit tower will be the tallest modular building in the world.
Currently, Forest City expects construction to wrap by December 2014 — a faster pace than normal construction, which would take at least another 18 to 20 months. They also estimate that building modular units will be 10 percent cheaper than typical residential construction, but they hope it will become even less expensive and more efficient as they build more developments in the Atlantic Yards project. The tower will be a 50-50 mix of market rate and affordable housing, of which 20 percent will be low-income housing.
Architects SHoP and Forest City Ratner collaborated on the design and building process for the apartments. Each nut and bolt piece of the apartment is installed before it leaves the Navy Yard facility, including the electrical wiring and plumbing, hardwood floors, appliances, and even the towel bars. The hallways and stairwells are being built at the modular factory as well. Rooms in the apartment are often assembled as separate modules, e.g. bathrooms, bedrooms, and living room/kitchen could all be separate pieces. The variety of shapes allows for 25 different layouts.
After the unit is stacked in the building, contractors and electricians will connect each apartment’s utilities to the building’s common lines. The exterior sides of the apartments have the facade already attached (see pictures after the jump), and the facade will be “self-sealing” because the pieces fit together with seals between each unit.
Atlantic Yards Coverage [Brownstoner]
The labor at the factory is 100 percent union, 47 percent of its trade associates hail from Brooklyn and 11 percent are women, said the developer. The construction process involves no welding, no concrete and no pipe-sweating, and each module is built on a steel chassis. Here are more photos from inside the factory.
You can see pieces of the facade in this one:
Workers construct a bathroom module:
Corner units with facade pieces:
The steel chassis for the modules outside the factory: