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Materials Practice Guide for Modular Construction

An increasing number of building projects across several markets are using modular construction, the process by which components of a building are prefabricated off-site in a controlled setting and then shipped to the project site and assembled. This approach allows projects to capture the efficiencies gained by integrating the processes and technologies of design, manufacturing, and construction— without having to compromise on aesthetic intent. According to research conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction, when implemented effectively this approach has been shown to result in a higher-quality building, delivered in a shorter time frame, with more predictable costs, and fewer environmental impacts—for example, through reduced material use and waste.

While a range of factors are driving increased use of modular construction, a number of barriers are preventing its wider adoption. And although the planning and design process involved in modular construction is in several ways similar to that of traditional on-site construction, there are some significant differences and a number of considerations that project teams unfamiliar with the modular approach must understand before committing to it. For example, with modular construction many decisions have to be made much earlier in the process. And because a large amount of work is performed off-site, a much higher level of coordination between the various parties involved—on such matters as construction tolerances and scheduling—becomes critical.

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Salvatore Verrastro is one of the contributing partners in the Materials Practice guide for Modular Construction.

Spillman Farmer Architects is an interdisciplinary practice of design professionals focused on the delivery of innovative building solutions based on human-centered design. Since 1927 we have been working closely with people and communities to deliver high quality, effective, and inspiring places to live, work, play, and learn. Our design process empowers people to make responsible, thought provoking and inspiring decisions related to the built environment. Through this process, we explore each project’s unique opportunities for honest, expressive solutions specifically suited to the building’s site and use. The materials we work with are familiar; however, our curiosity about them and their methods of assembly are not. Our priority is to develop an architecture that is rational, leveraging a distinct, precise and honest building vocabulary that shows clear evidence of how and why it was made. We are deeply influenced by place and choose honest materials which honor the location and achieve a lasting patina as they age. In the end, our works are authentic, responsive to the environment, sustainable, resourceful, and grounded in the unique history of each context, a tangible result of our critical thinking and thoughtful approach to the practice of architecture.

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