Developer Forest City and construction company Skanska traded lawsuits earlier this month over the stalled construction of Atlantic Yards' first residential tower, and as the legal battle drags on, more dirty details are being revealed. Both sides blame each other for the problems with the 32-story building, which is to be the tallest modular building in the world, but it's currently stuck at 10 stories. Forest City says Skanska mismanaged the warehouse and was essentially incompetent with construction, while Skanska says that Forest City's plans were faulty from the start. Now, the megaproject's self-appointed watchdog, Atlantic Yards Reports, brings more details from Skanska argument.
In a a 146-page letter to Forest City, Skanska says that the whole tower might be super leaky. Oh. Good. The tower is being constructed with 930 steel mods, and the letter says that there is a chance they could leak "at the thousands of joints between module façade elements." "It is impossible to predict that the building when completed will perform as designed; and in particular, it is impossible to predict that the curtain wall joints will be and, over time, will remain effective barriers to the passage of air and water."
Forest City hasn't directly addressed the leaky allegation, but the developer has said that any claims that the designs are faulty are completely false. The Daily News reports that at a summit last week, Forest City CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin reiterated their support and dedication to modular construction. She said that the ongoing legal battle "is not a referendum on modular," and that they "believe the system is compelling and works. The best validation of high-rise modular is a standing building on the corner of Dean and Flatbush — and that is still the mission."
Still, the struggles that Skanska and Forest City are experiencing may scare lenders away from funding modular projects in the future. But that's not to say that modular is dead in the water. The Stack, New York's first prefabricated apartment building, recently opened in Inwood, and renters love it. Additionally, construction was 15 percent cheaper than traditional construction. Since modular construction is still a relatively new trend, it may be getting unfairly criticized. An executive at Capsys, a modular subcontracting company that is building the city's micro-unit building, says, "It's irritating. When there's a problem with a developer and a contractor over a bridge, no one says it's because the bridge is made of steel."
· Skanska warns: "No one knows if the building is going to leak" [AYR]
· PIECE TALKS: As a Brooklyn tower sits unfinished, the debate over modular construction rises [NYDN]
· Atlantic Yards Tower B2 coverage [Curbed]