Skip to main content

Featured Post

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what's coming + FAQ (pinned post)

Atlantic Yards down the memory hole: 461 Dean portrayed in New York Post modular roundup as having "proven its worth"

From the New York Post, 9/13/18, New York’s modular building revolution is here, an overview of modular construction efforts, contains a segment on Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park:
Also in 2016, SHoP Architects completed one of the country’s most-documented prefab projects: 461 Dean St. in Prospect Heights, which, at 32 stories, is still the tallest modular building in the world.
Developed by Forest City as part of its massive Atlantic Yards project, its prefab modules were constructed by Full Stack Modular at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, currently the city’s only modular fabricator. (Most prefab factories are located outside major cities, where space and labor are cheaper.) The company, created in-house specifically for the project, later spun off from the developer.
In order to avoid factory-style uniformity, SHoP utilized a variety of materials, colors, patterns, unit types and fabrication techniques for each of the building’s three volumes, creating an intricate play of light, pattern, and texture outside, and an array of spaces inside....
461 Dean first made headlines for delays: From start to finish, the project ended up taking about four years — more than twice the normal time for a high-rise. But both [SHoP principal Chris] Sharples and Full Stack CEO Roger Krulak blame the slowness not on the modular systems, but on disagreements between Forest City and the project’s original contractor, Skanska (replaced by Turner). The project, now owned by Principal Global Investors, has since proven its worth by renting virtually all of its 363 units. Of those, 181 are set aside as affordable, while market-rate pads currently start at $2,710.
(Emphases added)

For more background, here's my 2017 roundup on the building.

The units were not constructed by Full Stack Modular. Rather, they were constructed by FCS Modular, a partnership between Forest City and Skanska, and later FC Modular, after Forest City bought out Skanska. Then Krulak, who as a Forest City executive worked on the project, bought the factory and established Full Stack Modular.

SHoP did indeed succeed in avoiding uniformity, but  at the cost of standardization and speed; those in the modular field have said As Krulak told Wired, the diversity of modules--32 types!--meant "we probably went a little overboard on the complexity."

Also, the building may have been too tall. Krulak told Fast.Co Design, "Our sweet spot for modular in an urban environment is in the 10-to-18-story, 80,000-to-120,000-square-foot buildings." Height adds risks of lack of "tolerance" for fitting perfectly.

The slowness wasn't merely because of "disagreements" but flaws in the building--whether the fault of the design or the implementation--that had serious implications: the structure suffered leaks, mold emerged, and the first four floors "were largely gutted," a state monitor reported, in documents I acquired through a Freedom of Information Law request.

As to whether the building's proven its worth, well, occupancy isn't a full metric. Forest City sold the tower at a seeming loss, given construction costs. Moreover, of course, Forest City's original plan to build the entire project modular was upended.