Modular Building Institute

Modular Studio and Research Learning Lab Suit School’s Collaborative Approach


The Barrie School campus in Silver Spring, Maryland is home to two innovative permanent modular spaces that were built with the school’s collaborative educational methods and concern for the environment in mind.

The “Studio” houses regular classes in its two classroom spaces and allows for additional meetings in a larger general space. When collaborative group work is desired, walls fold away to allow the two classrooms to merge, or enable the entire building to serve as a large gathering space.

Across a connecting outdoor deck is the “Research and Learning Lab,” which “emphasizes the use of new media and the interconnected nature of our 21st century world,” according to the school’s blog. “A variety of spaces and furnishings provide a wealth of options for students to work, study, and research, both individually and collaboratively. Two smaller spaces support smaller workgroups, distance learning, and long distance or even international collaboration.”

The deck in between serves as an outdoor expanded learning space – in line with the school’s mission to respect the environment.

The buildings themselves – which serve the campus’ middle-upper school – also represent this philosophy. According to Damon Pross, President of Modular Genius - the modular contractor - both buildings are LEED qualified and were built with sustainability as a priority.

Twenty percent of the building materials contain recycled post-consumer products; 2.5 percent of the project cost utilizes rapidly renewable materials, and 50 percent of the project cost uses certified wood.

All interior paints and adhesives are non-toxic. With a shared awareness of energy use and comfort, energy and water efficiency reach very high levels and are even tracked on a main dash board just inside the entry.

Because a modular building is constructed offsite in a factory, it’s an inherently greener construction process. Materials can be more easily tailored to the specific job, which produces less waste.

Modular not only helped keep the project green, it sped up the permitting and construction process.

According Charles Abelmann, Head of Barrie School, “Modular construction allowed us to move ahead with an aggressive timetable and have quality control over many offsite and site aspects of the project. We were able to have limited disruption as we installed each building,” Abelmann said.

Pross added that using modular also helped minimize the permit and inspection process at the site because the modules were inspected in the factory of Mobile/Modular Express, the modular manufacturer. Modular Genius subcontracted Prevost Construction to install the modules at the school.

“Also, we were able to provide concurrent construction, i.e., the site was being completed at the same time the building modules were being built in the plant,” Pross said. “This reduced the overall construction schedule.”

The modular process, along with an innovative design from architect firm Hord Coplan Macht, generated an optimal solution for Barrie School.

“We were able to create an innovative design in a cost structure that served the needs of the school. We are left with some remarkable buildings that are connected to create a feeling of one facility with great flexibility in how we use the spaces. We helped change our community in how people think about modular construction,” Abelmann said.

To learn more about the project, please visit the Modular Genius website.




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