Late last year, when Skanska and Forest City were battling over construction of B2, the modular apartment tower at Atlantic Yards (now called Pacific Park), a 146-page letter revealed that the tower might have a serious leakage problem. And now, documents acquired through a Freedom of Information Law request by Atlantic Yards watch dog Norman Oder, show that yep, there was a serious leakage problem. The information comes from reports that consultant STV sent to the Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing the entire development. The reports are from 2013-2014, a period when construction of B2 was being closely watched, so delays were closely tracked in the press. When work started in late 2013, it was already delayed, but Forest City said it would be complete by the fourth quarter of 2014.
According to the FOIL documents, issues started almost as soon as the 930 mods started to be stacked at B2. They did not fit together as seamlessly as planned. At one point, STV's William King wrote that workers "reportedly have had to shave drywall in past in order to squeeze in mods, then caulk."
But the bigger problems came when it rained. "On April 4, 2014, King reported that, after a very rainy weekend, 'a rain barrel filled up' in one third-floor unit, and water entered second-floor mods." He wrote that was "significant water damage" in half of the units. A few days later, he reported, "Jury is still out on gaskets which may be under increasing stress under weight of additional floors." Things only seemed to get worse:
"The third worst occurrence of leaks into the building occurred after a heavy rainstorm" on July 2, 2014, King reported. Workers had to rip out the ceilings and walls of one sixth-floor unit, while water infiltration was noted in other units. Representatives of Skanska and MG McGrath, the facade contractor, "were at a loss as to how water got into the building," King reported. By then, the ninth and tenth floors were being installed with some drywall sections omitted. On Aug. 1, 2014, King noted that all the floors, from 2 through 8, "have suffered significant water damage."The documents end in September 2014, right around the time that Skanska and Forest City sued each other. Since then, Forest City bought out Skanska and construction finally resumed. Forest City representatives had no comment, aside from what spokesperson Jeremy Soffin told City Limits: "Progress on B2 has been excellent since work resumed earlier this year and we are on track to complete the building next year. We remain enthusiastic about the potential for high-rise modular construction in New York."
A few modular building experts weighed in on the issue, and noted that problems like those outlined in the documents were bound to happen in a building that was pushing prefab construction to new limits. B2 was going to be the tallest modular building in the world (China beat us), and Forest City chose to go their own way with a new company (the thing they had to buy Skanska out of) rather than work with established modular building experts.
Currently, B2 is scheduled to be complete sometime next year. For a more thorough rundown of B2's history of issues and the FOIL documents, head over to City Limits. To look at the documents themselves, hit up Oder's blog, Atlantic Yards Report.
· Documents Reveal Woes at Pioneering Atlantic Yards Building [City Limits]
· Skanska Says Atlantic Yards Modular Tower Could Be Leaky [Curbed]
· All Atlantic Yards Tower B2 [Curbed]