Monday, January 28, 2013

CM James Questions AY Modular Development At City Council Oversight Hearing

Contact: Aja Worthy-Davis (212) 788-7081

Council Member Letitia James Questions AY Modular Development At City Council Oversight Hearing 

(New York, NY)— On Tuesday, January 22, 2013, at a New York City Council Housing Committee Oversight Hearing, Council Member Letitia James joined her colleagues, union-aligned contractors, and others in discussing modular building development. Modular or pre-fabricated construction refers to a building method in which building portions are constructed off-site (often in a factory). SHoP Architects have designed modular residential towers that should allow Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner (FCR) to save considerable costs.

Council Member Letitia James, representing Brooklyn’s 35th Council District which houses Barclay’s Arena and the developing Atlantic Yards site, asserted that modular development has the risk of producing low-quality construction. For a comprehensive construction such as Atlantic Yards—where the 32-story modular residential tower currently in development will stand as the nation’s largest modular development—this constitutes an experiment that may not stand the test of time.

Recent media reports have stated that the steel panels that line Barclays Arena “have occasionally dripped rusty orange blossoms onto the sidewalk,” noting that “iron workers have replaced hundreds of bolts that anchor the panels to the building’s structure. Engineers determined that weaker ones were originally installed, raising concerns about the structure’s integrity.”

Representatives of the city’s Department of Buildings and FCR testified at the hearing that there were considerable benefits to high-rise modular construction, while union representatives argued that prefabricated (off-site) construction could permit the developer to work without the supervision of licensed plumbers, electricians, and other experts.

“I am deeply concerned that we are compromising safety for the bottom line,” said Council Member Letitia James.

-- Epoch Times: Prefab High Rises: Future of Construction or Imminent Failure? (
Atlantic Yards Report: At Council hearing, Department of Buildings slammed for allowing Forest City to build modular without licensed trades; did developer get city to bend rules? (

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