The first residential tower at Atlantic Yards will be modular, making Brooklyn the home of the world’s tallest prefabricated building, developer Forest City Ratner announced today.

The 32-story B2 building, designed by SHoP Architects, will have 150 studios, 165 one-bedrooms and 48 two-bedrooms. Half of the 363 apartments will be affordable housing. B2, one of 15 residential structures planned for the ambitious $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards complex, will break ground Dec. 18 and open in 2014.

Forest City Ratner is pairing up with construction and development firm Skanska USA to manufacture the building’s 930 modules in a 100,000-square-foot factory in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. B2, located at Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street, will take about 18 months to complete, 10 months shorter than the timeline under traditional construction, the New York Times reported.

The modules measure 14 feet wide, 35 feet long and 10 feet deep, with electric lines, plumbing, toilets, kitchens and facades. Once the “mods” are assembled, they will be transported via truck to the construction site, where they will be lifted by cranes and attached to B2’s steel frame. The modules can be rearranged to create larger apartments with various interiors, avoiding the dreaded “shoebox/Lego stack” appearance of most modular buildings.

Although prefabrication allows for a faster schedule, less waste and lower construction costs, high-rises are rarely modular, given the complicated and expensive engineering required to protect the building from wind shear and seismic forces. In the US, most modular structures are no higher than 10 stories. Currently, the world’s highest modular building is a 25-story dormitory in Britain.

“Construction is by definition about building,” William Flemming, President and CEO at Skanska USA Building, said in a statement. “With this project, however, and with our partnership with FCRC and the Construction Trades, we are also building a new industry that has potential to become New York City’s newest export, a product and process that can transform how construction is done in this century. We are proud to bring our expertise in prefabrication—which we have used extensively on our healthcare and data center facility projects—to the residential market for the first time in New York City.”

Renderings of the B2 tower below, courtesy of SHoP Architects:



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