Grand designs: Skawina firm to build world’s TALLEST modular hotel
Manufactured in Poland before being shipped across the Atlantic, work is underway on what will become the world’s tallest modular hotel.
Set to open at the turn of 2020 and 2021, the 26-floor AC Marriott New York NoMad will feature a total of 168 rooms equipped to a 4-star standard and will replace a 5-storey stone-clad structure in downtown Manhattan that has been demolished to make way for the ground breaking behemoth.
Though the first four floors, comprising of bars, restaurants and assorted common functions, will be constructed using traditional methods, the remaining twenty-one levels will be composed of eight modules on each floor.
Peaking at 96-meters in height, the project has been authored by the acclaimed Danny Forster of Danny Forster & Architecture with the construction, finishing and fit-out of the rooms signed over to DMDmodular, a start-up founded three-years ago in the southern Polish town of Skawina. Bulking out at around 100,000 square feet, the hotel will eclipse the nearby citizenM New York Bowery Hotel by five floors to claim the world record as its own.
Reputed to be costing Marriott in the region of USD 65 million, the project will see the modular units assembled within a timespan of approximately 90-days with signpost elements of the tower including a spectacular rooftop bar with glittering views of the city below.
Having first pledged in 2017 to expand its use of modular solutions, the Marriott group has since added 31 modular properties to its portfolio. The American hospitality giant are not, however, alone in exploring and embracing such technology. In an industry sandwiched between rising construction costs and tight deadlines, the real estate sector the world over is aligning itself closer to modular innovations.
“Alongside efficiency, integration, and innovation, acceleration is the key word that describes the current proptech, construction and real estate industries,” Ewelina Woźniak-Szpakiewicz, the CEO of DMDmodular told TFN.
She added: “Everyone wants to be faster, to improve their methodologies to deliver quicker and be better, and modular construction seems to be one of the very interesting expressions at this moment in time.
“It produces up to 80 percent less waste than traditional construction, and as analysts predict, in the upcoming years real estate industry leaders will learn how to scale up and optimize modular projects and thus will be able to achieve more than 20 percent in construction cost savings.
“If you own rental apartments, hotels, restaurants or student accommodation, the sooner you are in business, the sooner your income stream begins.
“In some cases, your expedited arrival may capture a market demand ahead of a competitor. Modular construction opens the way for quicker development process and that’s the next reason why the market is booming. Recent modular projects have already established a solid track record of accelerating project timelines by 50 percent. Simply put, modular is the fastest ROI-generating construction method.”
More than just a niche, modular has become a multi-billion juggernaut that’s set to grow even more.
“The modular construction industry is booming in the United States and all around the world,” says Woźniak-Szpakiewicz, “doubling in size over the last five years to become an USD 8 billion industry.
“On top of that, forecasts for the industry looks even more promising. Under moderate assumptions of experts from McKinsey, the market value for modular in new real estate construction alone could reach USD130 billion in Europe and the US by 2030 whilst delivering annual cost savings of USD 22 billion.”
Despite their young age, (“though we calculate our age in dog years,” says Woźniak-Szpakiewicz), DMDmodular have undertaken several notable projects both at home and abroad ranging from high-rise buildings to smart living and student housing schemes.
Working from a 15,000 sq/m facility, DMD have sought to assemble the best international team in the sector while integrating technology, quality and aesthetics in a bid to change the image of modular construction. The effects are already telling.
“One of our advantages is that we are run by architects rather than engineers,” states Woźniak-Szpakiewicz, “and as a result aesthetics are extremely important to us. We want to show modular buildings aren’t just efficient, but can also be beautiful.”
A case in point, it would seem, is the Bonifacio Hotel an hour’s drive from downtown Warsaw.
“We started building it in 2017, we signed the contract in March and by November the buildings were ready for guests to stay in,” says Woźniak-Szpakiewicz.
“We provided everything, including the interiors, in a short timeframe and although it wasn’t a big project, it was quite advanced as it incorporated a swimming pool and open spaces which aren’t typical when it comes to modular construction.”
This, though, would appear to be just a precursor to their most headline-worthy project to date. Constructed in two concurrent phases – one in New York, the other in Poland – the AC Marriott New York NoMad has caught the imagination of both the real estate and mainstream media on account of its innovation.
“The site is tiny,” says Woźniak-Szpakiewicz, “which is another advantage of modular construction because if they didn’t use this technology, it’s likely that the site would never been used again due to the logistics related to its location on Sixth Avenue.”
Architect Danny Forster, meanwhile, is equally upbeat about the landmark creation. “We wanted to demonstrate that modular building can do more than just harness the efficiencies of the factory,” he says. “It can also produce a graceful and iconic tower. And yes, it can do so at the rate of an entire floor a day.”