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Forest City Shakes Up Construction

Forest City Shakes Up Construction
The music industry had iTunes. The publishing industry had Amazon. But what project could revolutionize the construction and development industries? For that, we look in Brooklyn, future home of the world’s tallest modular tower, Forest City Ratner’s B2 building at the $4.9B Atlantic Yards.
Forest City Rattner senior VP Susi Yu
FCR SVP Susi Yu, in Boston for Monday’s NEWiRE lunch, says modular can be faster, less costly, safer and more precise than traditional building methods. B2—363 rental apartments in a 322-foot, 32-story high-rise—will lead the residential roll-out for Atlantic Yards. The mixed-use project that’s been nine years in the making will have 6,400 apartments, 247k SF of retail, and 336k SF of office space. Susi expects to close on the financing this month, break ground Dec. 18, and follow with the modular construction in April.
Reznick (CohnDebut) MBOS
Atlantic Yards, Brooklyn, NY B2 facade
The modular approach—sections are manufactured, assembled and then transported to the site to be joined—will save 10% to 20% on construction costs and 10 months on the schedule. “We got the façade we wanted at a price we could afford,” she says. Other features: materials kept out of the weather are less likely to warp, and errors with parts or assembly can be caught in the factory, so there's less improvising on-site. It’s also safer because there’s less work to do high up on scaffolding, and it's less bothersome to neighbors since fewer trucks rumble through streets delivering raw materials.
Bisnow (PropManage)
Atlantic Yards, Brooklyn, NY B2 modular factory
FCR is partnering with Skanska for the construction and expects first occupancy within 20 months. The 150 to 175 workers in the factory (above) are in trade unions that have agreed to wages and hours through collective bargaining. The two companies built the plant in the Navy Yard near the B site. Complete kitchen and bathroom modules will arrive on-site, be lifted, and floated on a stream of air into place. Stacking modules creates double ceilings and floors within and between apartments, meaning less noise and smells from neighbors cooking, and it's more energy efficient. FCR aims for LEED Silver.
Atlantic Yards, Brooklyn, NY B2 interior
The ultimate test of modular is how the interiors function for every day living. Susi says she fought for ceilings that will be at least 8’6” high and expansive windows that bring light and air into the units that are standard size: 500 SF studios to 1,000 SF two-bedrooms. If it works out, Susi says the construction team hopes to continue using the factory (where 60% of B2 construction will be done) for more projects with FCR and other developers.Office towers may be a possibility—with the right design and manufacturing—since open layouts with raised floors are popular.  
Related Topics: Forest City Ratner, Navy Yard