The Speed of Construction...Is There Any Limit?
A noticeable modern trend in construction has been the accelerated rate that buildings are now being built, due to new methods, techniques and technology. Under the old adage that "time is money," there seems to be a movement to even further accelerate this trend.
In 2007, our office was involved in the design and construction of a building at the Greene Town Center in Beavercreek, Ohio, which utilized industrialized unit construction. The first floor of the buidling was retail/assembly use, but floors two through four were designed to utilize the pre-manufactured units that were constructed off site in a factory, and then installed with cranes into the superstructure of the building. According to Ward Singer, Architect at M+A Architects and Project Manager for the project, using this construction method, they were able to set 70+ modules in 4 weeks time, which shaved 6 months off the construction schedule! The overall building has 52 apartments. The module sizes were maximized in size for shipping purposes to gain even more cost efficiency in construction.
Units Being Set at The Greene Town Center
Completed Building - The Austin
Work at Night on the Hotel in Changsha, China
While I was very impressed with the construction time benefit of this approach, I recently came across an article in Building Design + Construction, which told of a hotel in Changsha, China where a 30-story hotel was constructed in two weeks! The article, "China's High-Speed Building Boom," discussed how townspeople watched as the 30 story building was constructed before their eyes in just 15 days! The foundations were poured in advance, but once construction began, the building utilized pre-assembled floor and wall panel systems, that had the wiring, plumbing and ventilation construction within the panelized systems.
To see a time lapse video of the construction click here.
I do not believe such a fast pace is possible in the United States, nor do I believe it should be done in the essence of safety. The article had indicated that inspections are not as stringent in China as they are here in the U.S. Such a building as this would require Special Inspections for the steel connections, whether they are welded or bolted connections. Also, the daily field inspections that would be required for a building of this size and importance would not allow for construction to be covered without inspection of the critical components within the building. Also, proper curing time for the concrete foundation system would be required prior to allowing construction of 30 stories of building structural loads to be imposed on the foundation.
Nevertheless, the current trend is for faster and faster construction methods to be employed. However, whatever method of construction delivery is utilized, this must be done with the balance approach of safety in mind.
by Jim Mitchell
Principal, Executive Vice President, Director - Civic/Community Studio
As a registered architect for over 27 years and a State of Ohio Certified Master Plans Examiner and Chief Building Official, Jim is a wealth of knowledge regarding building codes. His favorite place to eat is Polaris Grille, and his favorite movie is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.