Fabrication for the Future: The Modules


The Modules at TempleTown is an impressive project. It embodies what many in the industry believe to be the benefits of off-site fabrication: waste reduction, speedy construction, and cost savings. Designed by Interface Studio Architects, The Modules is a student apartment building in a double-H shape specifically designed to allow natural lighting in all of the rental units.


Importantly, this is expected to become one of the largest, modular, LEED certified buildings in the country.  The aim is Silver certification under the LEED for Homes Mid-rise pilot program.

The 72-unit building has ground-level parking, four levels of apartments, and a top level with a green roof terrace.  The storm water management system, which includes a rain garden, green roof, and pervious paving, reduces water runoff by 50%.

The Modules is located near Temple University in Philadelphia and units are now available for rent.  I was able to email with Brian Phillips, principal and LEED AP at Interface Studio Architects, to get some feedback on using modular construction for the project.


Q: Do you think prefabrication offered any advantages throughout the construction process?

Phillips:  At this scale there appear to be clear advantages on cost of construction and speed of deployment.  This 80,000 square-foot, 5-story building was built from excavation to finish work in 9 months.  The ability to fabricate elements of the building outside of Philadelphia County allows for a more competitive labor rate.  Also, if time is money – the speed of modular is a savings.

Q: Did you learn any lessons to apply with future projects of this nature?

Phillips: Lessons are coordination, coordination, coordination.

Since this is a student housing project, there is an annual cycle for completing a project.  If you don’t get it open in August, you’ve lost a year.  We basically started design 12 months before construction was finished which is quite a quick schedule.  Unlike field building, where last minute changes can be accommodated, the pre-fabrication process requires the documentation to be complete well in advance of fabrication – as the modular manufacturer needs to procure material, produce shop drawings for approval and then fabricate.

While modular prefab can save a lot of time in construction – it almost takes more time on the design and coordination side.

Q: Now that students are moving in, do you still expect LEED certification?

Phillips: Yes, the project was designed under a pilot called LEED for Homes Mid-rise.  We are anticipating a LEED for Homes Silver rating, which we are quite proud of considering the building-type, budget, and rapid schedule.

The Modules was developed by Carlisle Street Partners, LLC, with Equinox Management & Construction, LLC as the general contractor and Excel Homes as the modular manufacturer.

Modules-temple-town-exterior Modules-temple-town-exterior5


See interior photos of the apartments in The Modules at TempleTown.

Credits: The Modules.

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