Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC), working with Skanska as operating partner and construction manager, have broken ground on the residential component of the Atlantic Yards redevelopment project in Brooklyn, New York. The B2 building will be the first of three residential towers that will be constructed on the 22 acre (89,000 sq.mt) site, which also has a state of the art sports and entertainment arena and retail units, office space and public open space planned.
The B2 residential tower will be 32 floors high and contain 363 units constructed using innovative prefabrication methods, making it the world’s tallest modular building. The estimated 930 modular chassis components will be assembled by skilled workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard close to the development site, trucked in, raised by cranes and attached to the steel frame. Built sections will be approximately 10.7 meters (35 ft) long, by 4.3 meters (14 ft) wide and 3 meters (10 ft) high, and will contain pre-installed floors, walls, bathrooms, kitchens, plumbing and electricity for each apartment.
Fifty percent of the units will be low, moderate and middle-income homes whilst the remainder will be at the market rate, distributed evenly through the building. Scheduled to take around 18 months to complete, environmentally the B2 development also hopes to achieve LEED silver certification: approximately 60 percent of the B2 tower will be prefabricated off-site, therefore 70-90 percent less waste and a 67 percent reduction in energy consumption will occur during the building phase.
The design team from architectural firm SHoP is also responsible for designing the recently opened Barclays Center sports and entertainment arena. The company states that B2 and its two sister buildings will provide a visual balance between the “sweeping repose” of the arena and the verticals of the residential towers. In addition to the arena and towers, the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project will also provide up to 5000 more units of affordable and market-rate housing, 22,947 square meters (247,000 sq.ft) of retail units, approximately 31,215 square meters (336,000 sq.ft) of office space, and 8 acres (32,374 sq.mt) of publicly accessible open space.
A few months after Mayor Michael Bloomberg asked developers to address the challenge of providing micro-units to a city known for its high density living and high housing costs, the Atlantic Yards development is aiming to deliver on high-quality, low-cost high rise construction. Traditionally, prefabricated construction has been used for low-level individual units. The engineering challenges of B2’s vertical modular design are being met by Skanska and the engineers at ARUP, and to date the Atlantic Yards development has already withstood Hurricane Sandy without significant impact. The success of the development could be far reaching; the technology could be applied to vertical manufactured modular construction worldwide and, as is the case for New York, also help to regenerate local manufacturing industries.