World's tallest modular building
breaks ground in New York


B2 at Atlantic Yards

News: New York mayor Michael Bloomberg will today lead the groundbreaking ceremony for the world's tallest modular building, a 32-storey residential tower in Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards development by Manhattan-based firm SHoP Architects.

At the groundbreaking, developers Forest City Ratner will display one of the 930 modular chassis that will be combined to build the tower, called B2. More than 60% of the construction will be completed off-site at the Brooklyn Naval Yard before being transported to the site as pre-fabricated modules.

B2 at Atlantic Yards

B2 is the first of three new residential towers planned around the Barclays Center, the 19,000-seat indoor sports and music arena that opened this September. Both were designed by Manhattan-based firm SHoP Architects as part of the controversial Atlantic Yards development, which has attracted criticism from residents over its lack of transparency.

The three buildings will provide around 1500 residential units in total, half of which will be earmarked as affordable housing. B2's 363 apartments are expected to be available for occupancy in summer 2014.

B2 at Atlantic Yards

While developers and city officials hail B2 as the world's tallest modular building, construction is also set to begin this month on a modular tower in Changsha, China, which at 838 metres, or 220 storeys, would be the tallest building in the world – and construction firm Broad Sustainable Building says the tower, called Sky City, will go up in just 90 days.

We reported on the opening of the Barclays Center in September, while back in May we reported on plans for a 425-metre-high skyscraper by architect Rafael Viñoly on New York’s Park Avenue, which will become the tallest residential tower in the US if built – see all our stories about New York.

B2 at Atlantic Yards

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Images are by SHoP Architects.

  • vincent

    So this is a modular building. #moreinfo

  • zizi

    Goodbye architecture. Welcome blade runners!

  • sauckng

    The communists were making “modular” buildings decades ago.

  • Derek

    Another building meant to be consumed as an image, but will it work as a human-scale structure?

  • yep

    Clearly none of you have heard of SHoP before, or understand how difficult it is to get NYC union construction workers to take half their normal pay to work in a factory. Did the communists have to deal with unions when they built their “modular” buildings?

    • Klaus

      I don’t get Your point. I don’t think that the problem is how much the NYC union construction workers will be paid, but it’s all – and it should be all – about the quality of space (socially, economically, architecturally). The real problem here is how they are addressing it: “the tallest modular building”. Really? in 2012 we are still here arguing about who has the biggest or tallest building? Isn’t architecture all about social and living qualities?

      An other problem is the evolution. Decades ago all the efforts were focused on urban planning, composition, technology, materials, social relations and there was a continuous evolution in one or more of those subjects. Nowadays, most of the times, it’s just fake economics, fake sustainability and fake themes.

  • marco

    I fail to see the fundamental difference – or advantage – between “modular” and normal pre-fabricated construction.

    For the latter, this is hardly the world’s tallest example. In the Netherlands only (the Hague, Rotterdam, Eindhoven) I can name several examples with the same height or higher that are entirely or mostly pre-constructed.

  • Is pre-fabricated construction the future? I love architecture but not this!

  • DTF

    My understanding is that much of the innovation associated with this project pertains to the fact that the entire module, facade included, is fabricated offsite and dropped into the frame without ever having access to the building exterior after placement.

    This would clearly pose many complicated technical/engineering issues. From what I have gathered, this is a new/innovative approach to modular high-rise construction, but I am not familiar with some of the examples other comments have mentioned.

    If you watch video of the Chinese hotel projects that employ modular, pre-fab units, they drop boxes into place, attach a curtain/window wall (perhaps prefab, but not part of the modular unit) and then complete the interiors. These units are essentially complete (minus furniture) as soon as they are attached to the framing (allegedly).

    Not quite sure why people are slamming the design. It isn’t particularly beautiful or iconic, but it appears to me that it reinforces the street front well (in a rather traditional, but functionally urban manner), and the interiors look to have great natural lighting and are no smaller/cramped than apartments in traditionally constructed residential buildings in NY (or any dense city). It’s a rather modest building architecturally (by SHoP standards at least), but not offensive. This is architectural innovation on a technical front only, perhaps, but it doesn’t seem like the “quality of space (socially, economically, architecturally)” has suffered for it. Just one person’s long-winded opinion though.

  • Dave Gronlie

    Maybe it’s a result of the rendering, but the middle set of windows in the first image looks like they are being put in a shadow by the parts of the structure to the left and the right.

  • Marcus

    Good news with this project. It covers up part of the Barclays Center facade.