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Think Inside the Box: A Modular Conversation (1 LU)
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Think Inside the Box: A Modular Conversation (1 LU)

When: Thursday, July 18, 2019
12:00 - 1:00 PM
Where: AIA San Francisco
130 Sutter Street, Suite 600
San Francisco, California  94104
United States

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At a time of exponential increase in construction cost, severe labor shortages, and a crisis in housing availability and affordability, there is an opportunity to leverage new building technologies and processes to promote development, to streamline construction, and to expand the practice of architecture. Offsite construction may be one of these opportunities – and the industry has recognized it. Renewed interest and expanded capability in Modular and Pre-Fabricated construction has led to multiple high-profile projects being executed by several different manufacturers and design teams around the world. Successful execution of these projects, however, requires a highly integrated design process between architect, engineer, modular manufacturer, contractor and the jurisdictional entity.

This session will help all those involved in the design and construction process to determine if and how offsite construction could/should be implemented in their projects, identify the processes and technical differences from traditional site-built construction processes and methods, and highlight some lessons learned from real project experience by a multi-disciplinary team of professionals. Discussion topics include:

  • Code and legislation changes affecting the boom in modular.
  • Modular innovations: alternate building materials and practices more suitable for manufacturing.
  • Permitting process
  • Integrated design/delivery
  • Historical precedents, lessons learned
  • Design limitations
  • Structural: transportation, picking forces, module vs. building structure
  • Envelope strategies
  • Site-built vs. modular project scope

Attendees will gain an understanding of modular and prefabricated construction methods and mitigating factors, with the goal of identifying how and when offsite construction might improve their projects and practices.


Learning Objectives

  1. Understand the differences between Site built, Pre-fabrication, & Modular construction, and identify ways transportation / installation considerations affect the design, carbon footprint, and embodied energy.
  2. Gain an understanding of the Structural differences between site built construction and modular, and how gravity and lateral loads are dealt with in each method.
  3. Identify how modular can efficiently resolve the affordable housing crisis, lower construction costs, and contribute to the sustainability of below market rate housing.
  4. Understand how to permit a modular project, who are the entities responsible for review, and how to facilitate the review process with local officials.


About the Presenters

Thomas Braham, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C
Hospitality Studio Director, Gensler

Impacting organizations and communities, Tom’s approach to design management combines empathy for different points of view and project contexts with creative problem solving and calm, rational judgment. Tom leverages inter-disciplinary project teams to achieve effective collaborations and partnerships. Catalyzing a collaborative practice, he brings together diverse professionals focused on a wide range of complex corporate, institutional and civic projects. Throughout his career, Tom has been actively involved in the architectural community. He served as a member of the national board of directors for the American Institute of Architects from 2007-2010. He was elevated to Fellowship in 2015.

Jeff Brink, PE, SE, LEED AP
Vice President, DCI Engineers

Jeff Brink worked for many years at DCI’s headquarters before transferring to manage the San Francisco team. Active with regional industry organizations, he has spoken at AEC events hosted by BISNOW, San Francisco Business Times, American Concrete Institute, Post-Tensioning Institute Conference, Oakland Construction and Development, and many group panel discussions. Overseeing the completion of Coliseum Connections in Oakland makes Jeff a well-versed expert on how structural engineers can support modular constructed projects. He has regularly presented about the advantages of the modular building approach to those interested in an alternative project delivery in specific market sectors.

Sara Pacelko, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP
Design Director, Rad Urban

As Design Director, Sara operates from the belief that buildings and cities should enhance people’s lives through mindful design and the integration of wellness. Her team values vision, cross collaboration and embraces challenges as opportunities for innovation. Using the tools of manufacturing, dwelling units can be improved to provide more to its occupants for less, utilizing technology and the precision of a controlled factory environment during assembly. Modular housing and development should not only push the boundaries of construction cost and schedule, but also elevate the quality of design and the daily experience of its occupants.