Developers turn to modular construction to meet changing needs resulting from the pandemic
Modular construction has been growing in popularity among developers as a method for building multifamily housing, hotels and workplaces. As the pace of hospitality and office projects slowed in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, the process of creating prefabricated units that can be quickly assembled shifted as many developers turned to medical buildings, affordable housing, data centers and restaurants.
A modular coronavirus testing pod at the University of Denver was built in 10 days in a factory in Bakersfield, Calif., and took one day to set up. The pod can be enabled with sensors and cameras that can detect the temperature of people wearing masks and standing six feet apart. Students and staff can either walk up or drive up to have their temperatures screened or to receive a virus test at one of six windows at the center, a 40-foot-long building manufactured out of state in a factory and shipped to Colorado on a flatbed truck. Similar care pods are being used at the University of California Los Angeles and the Vancouver Airport. Proponents say the method is faster and greener than conventional construction.
Before the pandemic, modular hotel construction was growing rapidly. Marriott has used modular construction in more than 70 hotels in North America since 2015, and the $100 million, 19-floor modular CitizenM Bowery hotel opened in Manhattan in 2018. When the AC Hotel NoMad opens this year, it will be the largest modular hotel in the world. Retailers and restaurant chains have adopted modular construction as well. In October, Chick-fil-A opened its first modular location in Roswell, Ga. Six separate modules — including the restaurant’s kitchen, drive-through counter, serving area, office and restrooms — were built in Conyers, Ga., approximately six weeks sooner than it could have through traditional construction methods.
Read the full article in the New York Times.