Atlantic Yards modular prefab tower is under construction

© Joel Arbaje

A year ago I ate my words as details were revealed about the high-rise modular building proposed for the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. Now the wonderfully named Sydney Brownstone visits the factory for Fast Company.

There are some interesting twists on traditional modular construction, where the speed of the line is limited by the slowest building trade.

FCS Modular and its Swedish partner Skanska decided on using a system called "group technology workcells," in which multidisciplinary groups of cross-trained tradesmen work on different parts of the floor simultaneously. It's the same way airplane engines are constructed, Roger Krulak, a senior vice president at Forest City Ratner (FCR), explains. "A bathroom, for example, takes a lot longer to do than a living room. So if you tried to build them in a line, every time you had something like a kitchen come by, it would slow down," Krulak says.

Sound transmission is a big problem in steel buildings; noise carries a long way through the frame and the lateral bracing makes it hard to seal. They have thought about this too:

To secure the building from winds and seismic shifts, it will feature both a steel brace and a conventional foundation--a hybrid of modular and traditional construction methods. But a more radical innovation takes place in between the mods, when they are joined together by rubber sealant, like the connections between subway cars. The sealant goes on the façade in one of the final steps before the mod is trucked out.

This will be fun to watch. More at Fast Company.

Atlantic Yards modular prefab tower is under construction
Fast Company takes a tour of the factory in the Brooklyn Navy Yards.

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