What’s LEGO got to do with high-rise construction in Brooklyn, New York?

LEGO may be the inspiration of the soon-to-rise tallest high-rise residential building in the world. Or so it seemed…

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The Future Of Affordable Housing
Inside Brooklyn Navy Yard’s warehouse, the future of affordable housing is slowly taking shape. Slated to rise next to the new Barclay’s Center Arena is the world’s tallest high-rise building, with flat metal sheeting and steel beams resting atop a workbench. This modular architecture doesn’t look anything like the typical high-rise construction site but it’s more like a furniture assembly line in a factory, where certain components are processed for production.

Factory-Style Assembly Of Modular Apartments
In this particular case, the “apartments” are assembled in factory style at the warehouse before they are brought to the building site where they will be snapped into place in the first 32-story tower. The first tower is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year and it will consist of 363 apartments for rent. It is only a part of a larger project worth $4.9 billion which includes a total of 6,430 apartments, of which 2,250 are allocated for “affordable housing.”

Assembly Instructions
Inside the warehouse, a diagram with assembly instructions is displayed, specifying which beam, metal screws and Marson rivet nuts go together. Someone is in charge of checking each component carefully, making sure that the right parts go according to the diagram.

Construction / Assembly Of One Apartment For 20 Days
Construction and assembly workers configure the beams into the apartment walls. The resulting rooms will be linked together in the process to form an entire apartment module. It takes about 20 days to assemble a complete apartment module.

One of the companies contracted by the city for the modular construction, Skanska, is optimistic that this production rate can still improve, considering the best manufacturing and construction methods and skills provided and made available for this project. The assembly line style of constructing the modular apartment is seen to cut costs by 15% to 20% at the minimum.

Beams, walls, and other components are attached and linked together to form an entire apartment.

Next Stage: Snapping The Apartment To Position
Once the modular apartment is completed, it is loaded onto a truck and driven to the construction site about 2 ½ miles away to then be lifted by a crane and snapped into position. Workers are able to load an apartment in about half hour.

Target Date For Tower 1: December 2014
The first tower is 32-stories high and is dubbed B2 and is expected to be finished by December. It will house:

  • street-level storefronts
  • 363 rental apartments
  • about 600,000 square feet of office and retail space spread over a 22-acre piece of property

This high-rise modular building is designed to last 20 years.

Crane lifts the modular apartment and snapped into position to the 32-story apartment tower.

Target: Affordable Housing
The project is a joint venture between the construction giant from Sweden, Skanska and Forest City Ratner – a New York City real estate developer who is responsible to build affordable housing as part of the Barclay’s Center Arena deal. Builders estimate the cost of building a typical 1,000 square-foot apartment in New York to cost around $330,000. The project developer’s cost projection for the modular apartment is $275,000 – making a savings of about $55,000 per apartment.

More Housing Units For NYC
The City of New York plans to embark on an ambitious affordable housing plan – adding 200,000 affordable housing units in the next 10 years. For the incumbent mayor, Bill de Blasio, this would be New York’s highest number of housing units than what the former New York mayors Koch and Bloomberg had contributed to the city.

Can you imagine what a high-rise LEGO building would look like?

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3 thoughts on “Lego-Style Assembly of High-Rise Residential Building”

  1. When I think of the Barclay’s Center Arena, I just think of a one story arena where the NBA’s New Jersey Nets play basketball. I had no idea that it is a high rise building…Or is this nothing more than a concept building at this point? I do know that the Barclay name has something to do with a soccer club in Europe and it appears they are continuing to expand in other areas.

  2. In the wake of the foreclosure crisis, the FHA is under increased pressure and scrutiny, yet their role in ensuring underserved borrowers have access to credit, particularly in times of crisis, is indispensable. I know it’s not popular to support the Federal Housing Administration, but the reality is that it has been critical to balancing the housing market during the Great Recession. I hope that one day soon, there will be a total solution to eradicating the problem of homelessness in America.

  3. By producing the parts of the building at the assembly line and then assembling them to form the building at the construction site, is this a more cost effective or efficient way of building a high rise building? Could this be the future of construction? Or is this a test concept that has yet to be assessed? I guess only time will tell. The success of this construction will ultimately answer some questions.

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