On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.
Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article:
At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.
The challenge with a modular building is that all of the building’s major components, whether constructed in the field or the factory, must come together and be assembled at one location much like the frame and components of a car comes together for assembly on the factory floor. Workers on a factory floor should not be improvising or force fitting components. Accordingly, the designer of a modular building, like the designer of car, must not only consider how each component will be designed, but how all of the components will fit together and ultimately be assembled into one, integrated whole. As a result, the modular building designer has a much greater obligation than the designer of a conventional building that simply includes some prefabricated elements.
When Skanska made its agreement with Forest City, Forest City had claimed that it had "Cracked the Code" of modular design and construction. Skanska had no design responsibility for the B2 Project. In fact, Forest City agreed that Skanska was entitled to rely upon the information supplied to it by and on behalf of Forest City. Thus, Skanska expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment.