There have not been a lot of highrise prefab projects; there are major issues of building code compliance, testing of assemblies, all kinds of unknowns. That's why I was a bit dubious about the proposal for the Atlantic Yards; at 32 stories you have added complications of having to separate the structural frame from the modules, which creates a whole new set of issues of firestopping and wasted space.
But at eight stories, life is much simpler. Peter Gluck & Partners have designed a prefab project for Broadway up at 204th St in New York City, that was originally proposed in 2009 and appears to be going ahead now.
It appears from the drawings that the modules are simply stacked on top of one another, much like low rise modular structures have been done for years. The architect writes:
The project makes use of prefabricated or off-site construction to radically reduce the construction costs, while maintaining quality and a very aggressive project delivery schedule. The offsite fabricator in Pennsylvania is capable of building the entire project in three months, with an on-site assembly time of eight days.
I do like the way the technology is represented in the design of the facade, pushing the boxes in and out.
The facade on Broadway expresses the unitized process; the prefabricated units are able to cantilever out of the facade plane since each one is a structurally isolated box. An overarching "plaid" pattern of colored panels and window systems accentuates the impression of boxes coming in and out of the facade plane.