“Early on, we were always missing people” because of quarantines, said Gilbert Trudeau, president of RCM Group, a modular construction firm in Montreal. Still, he said, business has not slowed; the company recently finished a modular Hampton Inn in Verona, N.Y.
Business & Economy
Before the pandemic, modular hotel construction was growing rapidly thanks to prominent projects like the $100 million, 19-floor CitizenM Bowery hotel that opened in Manhattan in 2018. Since 2015, Marriott has used modular construction in more than 70 hotels in North America.
“We can shave off six months of development, so instead of 18 to 20 months, we’re opening in closer to 12 months,” said Eric Jacobs, the chief development officer for Marriott Select Brands in North America.
In 2019, Marriott started construction on a 26-story, 168-room hotel in Manhattan, which will have prefabricated guest rooms, assembled and furnished off site with bedding, flooring and even toiletries. And when the stalled AC Hotel NoMad finally opens in 2021, it will be the largest modular hotel in the world.
As some sectors have slowed, the demand for multifamily and single-family homes, particularly affordable options in those categories, has only increased.
The modular firm Factory OS has attracted funding from large tech companies to use modular construction to create affordable housing. The firm raised $55 million in November from Autodesk, Facebook, Google and others. Factory OS has created market-rate housing, including corporate housing, and was involved in building the hospitals in China earlier this year.
Eco-friendly materials like mass timber are a major selling point for many modular construction projects. Mithun, an architecture firm based in Seattle, has paired up with Forterra, a nonprofit conservation organization, to create affordable modular housing in Tukwila, Wash., out of laminated timber for a community of East African immigrants. The project, which will open in 2022, will include about 100 residences, a marketplace and community spaces.