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Living the “American Dream” means consuming the most product while spending the least amount of time and money as possible. With that being said, it is no wonder that modular and pre-fabricated construction has seen exponential increases in popularity over the past few years. Companies in different fields are recognizing the various benefits that modular buildings have to offer.
New York forged the path for modular buildings last year with the construction of the worlds tallest pre-fab building reaching 322-feet in the air (Click here to read more). The architect of a New York City apartment building set in “the hipster capital of the world,” Jim Garrison, has a plan to make a “pod hotel” using modulars (Click here to read more). Even the mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has recognized the time-saving and cost-efficient benefits of modular buildings in his “tiny-apartment” initiative. The popularity of modulars in New York has a lot to do with time and money, but also safety and loss prevention. Since modular buildings are constructed in an off site building, the chances of theft are substantially less than a building constructed on-site, in an open area.
Not only are modulars popular in the big cities, but are the top choice when re-building communities after a disaster. After hurricane Sandy hit the east coast in 2012, modulars that met the requirements to withstand harsh weather were built to replace destroyed homes. The quick install time and lower costs makes modulars the perfect choice for helping to re-build homes and lives. Read more about how modular buildings help disaster-stricken communities, here.
Modular Construction News released a great article on how modular units are now being used in the Department of Corrections using steel units for cells. You can find a full version of the article here: www.modularconstructionnews.com
|Modular Units: Construction Method Offers Quick, Inexpensive Solution
By Peter Krasnow, FAIA
By Peter Krasnow, FAIA
|Modular construction is an option that can accommodate program and building needs within a short time frame at a cost that is usually significantly less than conventional construction.
For correctional industry application the construction method has generally been narrowly focused on housing low-security populations in modular buildings, or higher security populations in precast concrete or steel-cell modular units. It is a method that has helped numerous jurisdictions get out of a bind, and decision makers at federal, state and local levels responsible for funding criminal justice building programs regularly consider it. However, modular construction is not always a catchall solution and some key factors must be considered before it is used at a new or existing facility.
Available Units and Systems
Early modular buildings used in the correctional setting were often created by combining12-foot-by-60-foot pre-manufactured units. Several companies manufactured the units — including SpaceMaster, Arthur Industries and Gelco — but the buildings sometimes had trouble enduring the wear-and-tear atmosphere at correctional facilities.
“New Jersey’s Department of Corrections built an entire minimum-security prison with Arthur system in the early 1980s in southern New Jersey,” says Robert T. Goble, AICP, principal at Carter Goble Companies. “I did an assessment of it for NIC after about five years of operation and found it to be deteriorating (as you would expect with wooden member structures in a correctional environment) and questioned whether it would last the entire 15 years the state had expected.”
Another early entry into modular building construction was built in New Jersey in the early 1990s.
“We successfully completed a 42,000 square-foot multi-story, medium-security correctional facility and administrative/visitor center for Hudson County, N.J., using modular unit construction,” syas Mickey Rosenberg, director of Mark Correctional Systems at Kullman Industries.
There are several modular building designs available that address the low-security needs of facility administrators. General Marine Leasing, Sprung Instant Structures, Miller Modular Construction and American Modular Technologies are some of the companies that specialize in modular buildings. They essentially provide large rectangular enclosures with open floor plan configurations that include bunk beds, and in some units, a separate toilet/lavatory/shower area. A few manufacturers have had success providing their products to correctional facilities for temporary use that occasionally result in permanent housing environments.
Manufacturers such as Rotondo/Weirich and Old Castle Precast Modular Group supply concrete modular cells. Kullman Industries specializes in steel-cell modular units.
Modular building and modular cell construction both provide viable solutions. The option that is best for an individual facility is determined by security needs.
Security and Safety
Security will always be an important, if not critical requirement for facilities that house prisoners.
When planning modular buildings, clear lines of sight must be included in the architectural design to enhance an officer’s responsibilities for good management. Although officers are encouraged to walk about the space in a direct supervision environment, it is important that they also have clear observation from a desk position. During planning, it’s a necessity that communication between the manufacturer, facility operator and professional advisor be open and unimpeded.
Modular concrete cells provide a uniform secure holding area for high-security inmates and they also can provide significant savings if the cells are poured and manufactured on-site.
“Precast modular cells provide the security benefit of uniformity in quality, tolerances and finishes for joints, cast-in doors and frames, and fixtures and furnishings,” says Steve Weirich, owner of Rotondo/Weirich Enterprises. “Eliminating possible hiding places for contraband is inherent to their concrete construction. With on-site precast modular construction, modular contractors are pouring quad cell modules with monolithic mezzanine balconies, further reducing joints and adding to the long-term integrity of new facilities.
“When cell modules are cast on prison job sites at dimensions larger than the allowance for road travel, the number of building components decreases, thereby providing a more seamless, secure structure.”
Relative Costs of Modular Units
Prefabricated unit costs vary significantly. Units can be purchased on a square-foot basis or, more typically, on total building size based on typical housing units of 50 to 100 prisoners.
Estimating the cost of a modular unit system against conventional building must consider the amount of time saved with modular construction to obtain the true value for cost comparisons.
Speed of delivery to respond to immediate housing needs may be the primary reason for choosing a modular unit rather than pursuing conventional construction. In some instances, although these temporary structures outlast their life expectancy, they remain in place in lieu of building permanent units requiring a commitment of funds. In other cases, once they have served their purpose on a short-term basis and funding becomes available they can be removed and a permanent facility constructed.
“I have found that although the cost for modular units can parallel conventional construction, depending upon the region of the country, the speed clearly makes the difference,” says Roger Lichtman, AIA, of The Lichtman Associates (see Page 16 for more on Lichtman). “More often than not, time translates directly to money. In one previous experience, utilizing modular technology we were able to design and build, through the toughest weather of the year, a 192-bed permanent facility. These units are not the wood frame trailers of the past. They are built of the same materials used in conventional construction.
“From the time our contract was signed for architectural services until the time that inmates were moved in was a period of less than six months. Conventional design and construction would have taken three times as long. Twelve years later, the facility still houses 192 inmates in the best of conditions with minimal facility maintenance. To this day, the client remains an excellent reference for us.”
Your Project Needs
With budgets running out of control at all levels of government, it may be prudent to consider modular construction for upcoming projects since the method can be more affordable, faster to deliver and the potential procurement pitfalls of conventional contracting processes could be avoided.
In certain jurisdictions, these units can be purchased directly from a manufacturer without the requirement of procurement regulations associated with retaining services through a conventional request-for-proposals solicitation process. The RFP and interview process can often become very time consuming. If overcrowding or another crises at the facility is particularly bad, emergency measures can sometimes be declared to secure funding.
In many jurisdictions throughout the country, there are methods to purchase modular buildings directly from the product provider. Prefabricated units can often be modified to suit a specific program by adjusting the design elements of a unit without time penalties. In fact, the development of “new models” for modular construction seems most appropriate during these stressed economic times.
A modified modular model could be used during an expansion project at the county jail in Johnson County, Kansas.
“We are currently evaluating and conducting research on the various construction approaches and structural systems applicable for our 416-bed jail addition,” says Neal J. Americano, AIA, Johnson County deputy director of facilities. “A modular system is being considered mainly as a means to speed design and construction. Such a system must allow appropriate functionality of the facility while also providing the aesthetic continuity with the AIA award winning original building.”
Although modular units are still being utilized at correctional facilities, manufacturers have remained tied to early concepts and no significantly different new concepts have been released. And new modular systems do not appear to be in development in today’s marketplace.
One wonders why no one has taken up the challenge of new designs suitable for correctional settings, considering that most jurisdictions have an immediate need for additional bed space with limited funding streams available to them. Units that are secure and rapidly deployable and site-specific could fill the gap between need and cost.
Gregory Offner, principal at Jacobs Facilities Inc. outlined a modular unit he would like to see: “Refine the development, manufacturing, shipping and installation so a complete 200-bed housing building in modular, stackable design … fully outfitted, could be readily available to my clients.”
A key issue regarding modular units is their life expectancy. Most modular buildings on the market have a defined length of use based on the type of inmate population housed at the facility and the nature of the materials and structures employed. A product should be secure, easily maintained while simultaneously providing an environment that is suitable for prisoner containment and rehabilitation.
If the corrections community is committed to the rehabilitation of inmates, then environment plays a key element in behavioral change of those incarcerated. Modular units could also include educational, recreational, and socially relevant programs important for reorienting prisoners to return to a normal and productive life in society. n
Peter Krasnow, FAIA, is an Advisory Board Member of Correctional News and the author of “Correctional Facility Design And Detailing” (McGraw-Hill) a 1998 publication. He is a member of the AIA Justice Committee.
Prevost Construction is proud to participate with Modular Building Institute. A brief history can be found on their website: www.modular.org. Founded in 1983, the Modular Building Institute (MBI) is the international non-profit trade association serving non-residential modular construction. Members are manufacturers, contractors, and dealers in two distinct segments of the industry – permanent modular construction (PMC) and relocatable buildings (RB). Associate members are companies supplying building components, services, and financing.
This is a great association to be a part of to get the latest information on modular buildings as well as discuss information with other contractors, manufacturers or dealers. Being that Prevost is a big part of school and modular buildings, education is a big part of this association. Below find an article that can be found here, to learn more about the school system’s involvement with modular buildings.
From single classrooms to complete campuses, permanent modular construction offers public, private, and charter schools what other construction methods cannot: accelerated project timelines, more economical pricing, and less disruption. Permanent modular schools are indistinguishable from other schools and can be constructed to any architectural and customer specifications. MBI members design and build schools of all types and sizes using traditional building materials like wood, steel, and concrete. Virtually any size permanent school can be built, installed, and ready for occupancy, some in as little as 90 days. Perhaps most importantly, by using off-site technology, open construction sites are eliminated while school is in session. Students are safer and teachers compete with less disruption.
High Tech High in Chula Vista, CA by Williams Scotsman. Find case study here.
Millmont School, Reding, PA by Triumph Modular & NRB Inc. Find case study here.
Relocatable buildings have become a critical factor in managing student demographics and increasing enrollments. Relocatable classrooms are also ideal for use during new construction or renovation. Convenient, flexible, cost-effective buildings can be delivered and operational in as little as 24 hours. Relocatable classrooms are measured for quality and code-compliance by state or third-pary agencies through routine and random inspections, testing, and certification services. Single classrooms or multiple buildings can be arranged in clusters to create a campus feel. MBI members supply steps, decks, ramps, and even furniture. Members also offer lease, purchase, and lease-to-purchase financing for a variety of public and private school needs.
Harvard University, Child Care Center by Triumph Modular.
Performance IQ, High Performance Green Modular Classroom design by M Space Holdings LLC.
Dearcroft Montessori School, Oakville, ON by Provincial Partitions Ltd.
Modular classroom design by Perkins+Will.
Case Study-North Andover Early Childhood Center:
Johns Manville’s formaldehyde-free fiberglass building insulation offers superior thermal and acoustical performance while improving indoor air quality. Products from Johns Manville’s complete line of formaldehyde-free fiberglass building insulation have qualified for SCS Indoor Advantage Gold + Formaldehyde Free certification from Scientific Certification Systems.
fiberAmerica’s Green Seal cellulose fiber insulation product line includes offerings with all Class 1, Type A building materials that are best fit for attic, sidewall and ceiling applications. Made from recycled newspaper, these products are treated with non-toxic, naturally occurring fire retardant minerals and allow moisture to dissipate through the material, thereby preventing mold.
GreenFiber natural fiber blow-in insulation is made from 85 percent recycled-paper fiber specially treated for flame resistance. This natural fiber insulation provides outstanding resistance to heat flow for thermal applications and noise suppression for acoustical treatments.
SAFETOUCH Fiberglass-Free Insulation, a product from Dow Building Solutions, is environmentally friendly and incorporates technological developments to promote an indoor environment that is comfortable, healthy and energy-efficient. SAFETOUCH insulation is manufactured from polyester fiber, a percentage of which is derived from post-consumer recycled materials. The product is safe to touch and easy to install.
UltraTouch Natural Cotton Fiber Insulation, manufactured by Bonded Logic Inc., is comprised of post-consumer recycled cotton fibers sourced from denim. The UltraTouch line of batt insulation offers R-8 to R-30 thermal values. UltraTouch contains no chemical irritants or formaldehyde.
Sustainable Insulation from CertainTeed is a new fiberglass insulation product meeting the strictest California indoor air quality requirements. The product, which has a low-impact manufacturing process, incorporates recycled materials and a bio-based organic binder. It contains no phenol formaldehyde, harsh acrylics or dyes.
Qualified Remodeler released Top 100 Product Choices* and among the list of awesome products, we picked out a few to mention for our followers:
* To view the complete list of Qualified Remodeler’s list of top 100 products, click on this link. To view the products listed in this specific blog post, click on the link next to the product number.
#23: Flo-Free Leaf Guard:
DCI Products designed a Lead Guard to prevent clogged gutters. The black nylon is 3/4-inch-thick and fits inside any gutter size as well as in seamless gutters. This guard prevents leaves, pine needles, snow, twigs and other debris from clogging.
Esca Tech developed a D-Lead Paint Test Kit to detect the presence of lead on serfuraces. It detects lead in surface coating at a level of 1.0mg/cm2 in only 3 to 13 minutes. This kit can be used on drywall, plaster, wood and some metal surfaces.
#80: The Striker
The Striker was developed by Simmons Tool Company and used to stake driving tools. The Striker increases work efficiency by using a larger strike surface and adding the stability of a shock-absorbing handle, eliminates injury and protects your stakes from damage. Four models are available in this product.
To improve performance of existing windows, consider storm windows, window films, and exterior roller shades before buying replacement windows.
Below are four ways to help improve window energy efficiency:
1. Replacement windows– full window replacement, insert windows (the old sashes come out and a whole new window inserts into your old window frame), and sash replacement (primarily for double-hung windows, this option requires jamb liners into which new sashes are installed).
2. Low-e storm windows- airtight storm windows with low-e coatings can rival the performance of just about any window replacement. And now you can buy low-e storms with high solar heat gain for colder climates and low solar heat gain for warmer ones.
3. Window films can be temporary or permanent– There are two primary types of window films: more permanent, surface-applied films and the stretch-plastic that you install temporarily to interior window trim.
4. Exterior roller shades keep the sun out– If keeping the heat out is your main concern, the most effective window treatment options are exterior; you keep the sun out before it gets in
For more information or a link to this article by Peter Yost, please click on the link: www.GreenBuildingAdvisor.com