- San Francisco Bay-area modular builder Intermodal Structures is using shipping container-like units sourced from China to create a "future-proofed" line of offices and classrooms, according to North Bay Business Journal.
- Intermodal receives the 320-square-foot, 40-foot-long welded units and then outfits them with mechanical, electrical, ductwork and other high-end equipment at its Mare Island facility in Vallejo, California. The six-ton units can be connected horizontally and stacked two high, and the sturdy, steel frame allows the modules to be installed without walls. However, if holes are cut into the sides, crews must add additional framing to compensate for the openings in the metal shear walls. Intermodal's construction process and outsourcing allow the company to charge approximately $200 per square foot for the structures, which can be assembled on site in about two hours, making the modules particularly attractive to school systems.
- The company's "future proof" concept means that its end product, be it an office building, classroom or transitional residential unit for use after a natural or other disaster, must have an extremely long life. Intermodal says its units last 100 years. A future-proofed structure, according to Intermodal, must also be transportable; flexible in its uses and in its ability to be resized by adding or removing modules; sustainable through eco-conscious construction practices and materials and resource efficiency; and intelligent through automation and remote control of the module's systems, as well as through installation of high-tech audio/visual systems.
Intermodal's approach to modular construction is just one of many, all geared toward shaving time and money off a construction project. In fact, the New York City Department of Preservation and Housing recently launched its Housing 2.0 modular construction program when it issued a request for proposals requiring that prospective developers for a new mixed-use affordable housing project in Brooklyn use modular construction methods.
The housing department, like other proponents of modular construction, wants to speed up construction and reduce costs, but it also wants to be able to have a more rapid response to the changing demographics of residents.
Modular construction has also been able to begin to solve Berkeley, California's problem of too-few affordable workforce and student housing spaces. To that end, developer Panoramic Interests' 22-unit, four-story apartment building there will feature 365-square-foot units with nine-foot ceilings, energy star appliances, bike storage, efficient lighting and plumbing fixtures.