On Tuesday, officials in New York City held a groundbreaking ceremony for what will be the world’s largest pre-fabricated building. The 32-story apartment tower will be built in Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and will house 363 apartment units

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Proposed Atlantic Yards Prefabricated Towers (Image source: SHoP Architects)

On Tuesday, officials in New York City held a groundbreaking ceremony for what will be the world’s largest pre-fabricated building. The 32-story apartment tower will be built in Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and will house 363 apartment units. Located on Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street, the modular building is the first of 15 pre-fabricated buildings planned for the site, according to the New York Times, which notes that “[f]or half a century, builders have sought to capture the promise of modular construction for high-rise housing: substantially lower construction costs, a quicker schedule, better quality and less waste.”

Manufactured off-site, pre-fabricated (or simply prefab) buildings are assembled on-site in blocks or ‘modules’ and until recently, have typically been reserved for homes due to the engineering challenge related to height. With the engineering achievement behind them due to improved technologies, the developers look to being construction in the spring, as the New York Times notes:

…next spring, 125 workers at the factory in Building 293 at the [Brooklyn] Navy Yard will begin churning out 930 modules — typically 14 feet wide, 35 feet long and 10 feet tall — equipped with floors, walls, electric lines, plumbing, kitchens, toilets, exterior facades and even towel racks.

The engineering feat was reached through the use of computer models that allowed the developers, SHoP Architects, to test the engineering, as the New York Times adds:

The solution to producing high-rise modular buildings came, in part, from the ability to create computerized three-dimensional models that allowed them to test the integrity of the engineering, Christopher Sharples of SHoP Architects said.

Once completed, the new 32 story building will be the tallest in the world, but planned construction for adjacent buildings call for high-rises of 50 stories. As an engineering marvel of the 21st century, modular high-rises could be a solution for future development around the world.