Design Unveiled for the World’s Tallest Prefab Tower
November 17, 2011
Image via Curbed.
Prefabrication saves up to 90% of waste during construction. It also costs less, takes less time to complete, and is more energy efficient. So why don’t architects design high rise prefab? Because lightweight, cheap, materially-efficient buildings lack expensive, heavy, materially inefficient but structurally-vital cross-bracing, which protects against wind and lateral loads. The higher you build, the greater the wind loads, and thus, prefab towers don’t make much structural sense, despite the medium’s many positives.
So it was with great shock that the architecture community reacted to Forest City Ratner’s announcement that they would build a prefab tower at Atlantic Yards earlier this year. Many inferred that the idea was a cost-saving measure on the part of Ratner, whose agreement with the city specified that he would have to build a certain amount of low- and medium-income housing in exchange for plunking down a massive New Jersey Nets stadium in a small-scale Brooklyn neighborhood. It’ll never happen, said many, assuming that structural engineers would nix the idea once it really got rolling.
Today, Bruce Ratner defied naysayers, presenting renderings of what will eventually become the highest prefabricated structure in the world. The developer, who is working with SHoP Architects and Arup Engineers, reportedly told the audience that “if anybody can crack the code, this group can.” Curbed reported from the press conference, describing a series of “930 steel chassis modules around a lateral system of steel braced frames, with all the connections on the exterior of the modules, a method the developer describes as ‘process, not product innovation.’”
Technological prowess aside, very few are likely to be happy with the arrangement Ratner presented today. The massive structures dwarf even the nearby Target, and leave hundreds of neighborhood residents in perpetual shade. When Ratner was negotiating for permission to build the stadium (he faced a furious community that is, really, still furious about the project), he promised that the project would bring as many as 17,000 construction jobs to the area. How many people — including factory assembly workers — will this prefab scheme employ? 190.
Full story over at Curbed.