Archive for the ‘#NYC’ Tag

Lego High-Rise: World’s Tallest Modular Apartment Tower Getting Snapped Together In Brooklyn   Leave a comment

Erin Carlyle Forbes Staff, writes on the convergence of construction technologies and willingness to utilize this is transformational and disruptive in housing.

This story appears in the May 5, 2014 issue of Forbes.

Lego High-Rise: World’s Tallest Modular Apartment Tower Getting Snapped Together In Brooklyn.

Inside a warehouse at the Brooklyn Navy Yard steel beams and flat metal sheeting rest atop a workbench. A diagram–which looks an awful lot likeIKEA furniture assembly instructions–spells out where each beam and metal screw belongs. On it someone has carefully checked off each component, one by one.

The metal may not look like much yet, but it’s on its way to becoming part of the world’s tallest modular residential high-rise. Workers will configure these beams into walls, which will become the scaffolding of rooms, which link together to form entire apartments. Then the “mods” are loaded onto a truck and driven 2.5 miles away, lifted by crane and snapped into position like Lincoln Logs at the Atlantic Yards complex being built next to theBarclays BCS -0.24% Center (home to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets). Time to load an apartment: 30 minutes. From the first cut of metal to placing a mod next to the arena, the entire process takes about 20 days. “And we’ll get faster,” says Susan Jenkins, vice president of Skanska , one of the companies behind the mods. “This is bringing the best of manufacturing and construction together.”


Apartments are pre-assembled at the factory to insure they fit before they go to the site.

The space is divided into work stations: In receiving, materials are quickly organized and routed by logistics staff; at wall construction, racks of precisely cut steel beams and plates of sheet metal are loaded on tables and binded into walls.

At the next station four walls connect to make “pods,” the bathroom units, which are filled with toilets and tubs and paneled with engineered stone, which stands ready in nearby racks.

The first 32-story tower, dubbed B2, which will include street-level storefronts as well as 363 rental apartments, is slated for completion in December. Build-out of the $4.9 billion project–6 million square feet of residential (6,430 apartments, 2,250 of them designated affordable) plus nearly 600,000 square feet of office and retail spread over 22 acres in the heart of Brooklyn–is scheduled to last 20 years.

FCS Modular, a joint venture between New York City real estate developer Forest City Ratner (which was forced to build the affordable housing as part of its Barclays Center deal) and Swedish construction giant Skanska, is counting on the new factory approach to urban construction to save on costs and provide greater quality control. The industry, projected to spend some $108 billion building multi-family units over the next three years, according to real estate consultant Metrostudy, is watching. A 1,000-square-foot apartment in New York costs an estimated $330,000 to build; FCS estimates it will knock 15% to 20% off that this go-round–and as much as 30% off with more experience.

“If they can show that here, I think it has potential to have a transformative effect,” says Casius Pealer, a professor of architecture at Tulane. “It’s of interest both to architecture and to developers who are interested in building affordably and fast.”

Workers put electrical, drywall and finishes into the assembled mods and they begin to look like real apartments. All this is done safely away from the elements—no rain or snow to slow the process or rust the metal beams.

The agreement builders struck with New York City’s notoriously feisty construction unions is almost as innovative. Because the work is predicted to last more than two decades, the unions were willing to accept lower per-hour rates. Another key component: Rather than working strictly by trade, plumbers, electricians and carpenters can do whatever tasks they’re good at. This allows FCS to deploy labor flexibly and attack steps in the order that makes the most sense. That’s a big departure from New York City union construction practices, which mandate ridiculousness like framers finishing all their work before an electrician can even tackle the same area.

The labor agreement also led to savings in building materials. Normally subcontractors order materials–and mark them up. Here FCS controls the entire supply chain. The company directly purchases some 1,400 components. By controlling the process, FCS has found some great suppliers, including a company in China that produces smooth sheets of engineered quartz scored to look like tile, eliminating the need for grout in the bathroom “pods.” FCS buys in big volume–no middlemen needed.

But by far the most important innovation is the construction method itself. The factory feels like the love child of Home Depot HD +1.13% and a sterile surgical chamber. “We believe that in factory environments the productivity of the worker is greater,” says Roger Krulak, the Forest City Ratner exec in charge of modular construction.

Trucks loading the mods onto the towers make half their cross-Brooklyn journeys in the dead of night to avoid traffic.

Usually a new building’s façade must be caulked to seal it from the elements. But the mods have self-sealing facades, eliminating the need for workers to dangle off scaffolding with a caulking gun.

Once the mods leave the factory and are stacked into place, there are further savings. Precut pipe connectors are loaded into kits inside each mod so plumbers don’t waste time scrounging for materials. Press-fit pipes, which are quicker and cheaper to install than traditional soldered ones, are added level by level as the building goes up.

Still, until the building is complete the jury has to remain out. “If this modular approach to constructing new housing–including affordable housing–on this scale proves successful,” says Todd Trehubenko, senior vice president of multifamily finance for Boston’s Walker & Dunlop “then Atlantic Yards can serve as a true model for affordable housing development throughout the country.”

See video on the link at the bottom for an interesting view of how it all goes together.


Posted April 21, 2014 by arnoneumann in Pre-Fab Building Technology

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Tech & the City – Next American City   Leave a comment

“New York City’s tech sector might not yet be at critical mass. But it’s booming by nearly every measure. By some, it has transformed itself into a tech city second only to Silicon Valley. Research from the Center for an Urban Future found that some 486 New York City start-ups created since 2007 have gotten some form of private investment, including from angel investors or venture capitalists. The New York Tech Meetup, a monthly geek revival, regularly fills NYU’s 870-seat Skirball Center theater, with additional $10 tickets sold to watch the demos and presentations from an overflow venue. Half of the nearly 300 start-ups on a “Made in New York City” list maintained by the Meetup recently reported that they were hiring.

Cornell’s long-standing academic reputation and Technion’s proven industry expertise were no doubt appealing, says Pinsky, but what was otherwise so attractive about the bid was the schools’ embrace of what’s already taking place in New York City. “Cornell and the Technion basically asked the question the same way” as the city saw it, says Pinsky. “What they asked was, ‘What are the issues we should be tackling given the competitive advantages of the city?’” That the schools were talking about “hubs” and “connective media,” not “majors” and “computer science,” told officials that they were willing to tinker with their academic models, with New York City itself as their muse.”

AN : great, longer article about the technology Hub and growth  in NYC. Roosevelt Is. to be site for Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute, or TCII.

via Tech & the City – Next American City.

Posted December 5, 2012 by arnoneumann in Israel, New York, Technology

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One World Trade Center: Construction Progress – In Focus – The Atlantic   Leave a comment

Caption on picture 24 : “Ironworkers James Brady, left, and Billy Geoghan release the cables from a steel beam after connecting it on the 104th floor of One World Trade Center, on August 2, 2012 in New York. The beam was signed by President Barack Obama with the note: “We remember, We rebuild, We come back stronger!” during a ceremony at the construction site June 14. Since then the beam has been adorned with the autographs of workers and police officers at the site.”

AN : the 104th floor of the 110 floors of the former World Trade Ceneter Towers was a key floor in the crash of the plane into the tower.

via One World Trade Center: Construction Progress – In Focus – The Atlantic.

Posted September 15, 2012 by arnoneumann in NYC

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NYC Digital   Leave a comment

This isn’t just for a large City like New York…it can the pro-active initiative of any progressive community.

“The mission of nyc digital is to create a healthier civil society and stronger democracy through the use of technology that engages, serves, and connects New Yorkers.

To this end, it coordinates digital citywide initiatives that support the efficient exchange

of information and services between the public and the City of New York government.

This includes the user experience and content of, 311 online, crowdsourcing and participatory media initiatives, and the coordination of social media efforts. It is responsible for ensuring that social media policies are up-to-date and followed by all managers, and that design, style, and engagement quality is consistent across the digital experience.

In collaboration with DOITT and edc, nyc Digital also supports the development of public-private partnerships and developer community relations in the digital media sector and advises on the City’s Open Government strategy. nyc Digital works closely with DOITT and edc to support their efforts, and advises citywide on digital strategy, policies, and tools. nyc Digital was established by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in July 2010 within the newly formed Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.”


via NYC Digital.

Posted June 23, 2011 by arnoneumann in Digital_City

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