Modular Building Institute

MBI and BD+C Modular Advantage | Fall 2011

Modular Industry Has Commitment to
Disaster Rebuilding

Natural disasters can come when least expected leaving an unprecedented need for rapidly deployable buildings in devastated areas for a wide variety of uses. The modular construction industry, perhaps more so than any other industry is well positioned to help rebuild after natural or man-made disasters.  Due to the accelerated, factory-controlled modular construction process, there is simply no better means of providing fast, transitional shelter, schools, and medical facilities in times of great need than relocatable buildings. Many modular builders have whole fleets of code-compliant relocatable buildings on hand that can be quickly and efficiently deployed for emergency housing medical, educational needs, or to accommodate relief workers. The industry can also help with longer term rebuilding efforts with permanent modular construction that saves 30% to 50% more time than traditional construction. 

Members of the Modular Building Institute (MBI) have a long history of assisting with rebuilding efforts during these emergencies working with the local, state, and federal government and NGOs, school districts, hospitals and many more to respond as quickly as logistical details allow. Members assisted in natural disaster relief efforts during Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Katrina, providing over $250,000 in donations of relocatable modular buildings, construction materials, and cash. Members were also able to dispatch buildings to New York City and Washington, D.C. within hours of the catastrophes of September 11. 

In fact, one of William Scotsman’s modular units used during 9/11 recovery efforts will be part of an exhibition, entitled "The World Trade Center: Rescue, Recovery, Response," at the New York State Museum in Albany. The mobile office on display at the exhibition demonstrates how some relied on modular space after the terrorist attacks. In the weeks following 9/11, notes and mementoes were left on several of Williams Scotsman's modular units by those who lost loved ones or felt compassion for the lost and those left behind. In addition to serving as memorial spaces, modular units also provided much-needed respite for rescue workers as well as counseling centers.
MBI members have also worked extensively to provide relief for victims of the Haiti and Chile earthquakes last year and are continuing their efforts after the recent devastating tornadoes and floods in the U.S.  MBI also recently teamed up with the International Code Council to assist local Building Officials and Fire Officials in tornado-stricken states that needed temporary office spaces and formed an ongoing partnership to help provide temporary space solutions after natural disasters.

Following are case studies to highlight the advantages of using modular construction to help with rebuilding efforts in disaster stricken areas.

Restaurante Rucaray in Santiago, Chile

Recognizing that many middle class businesses were left completely destroyed after the Chilean earthquake in February 2010, Tecno Fast ATCO donated two units to a local restaurant owner. With the help of architect Mathias Klotz, these units were transformed into a restaurant and residence for the owner of the restaurant. This colonial style designed unit served as both a place of business and residence. Its rustic look involved a number of exposed wood beams. The first floor consists of a restaurant that can accommodate up to 50 people, a kitchen and serving area. The second floor residence was designed with two bedrooms, kitchen, full bath, laundry room, living area and terrace. It also incorporates a third story terrace that can be used as an overflow for the restaurant as well as an outdoor living area for the owners.

Well insulated, steel frames were used for the overhanging terraces and stair landings, along with thermal panels and insulated doors. This has a mix of wood siding and wood frame building blending with a structural steel overhang for the terraces.

The product was manufactured in two weeks with the install being completed in the third week. The price was well under stick building and the owner was able operate the restaurant three weeks after the plans were completed. This is now the central meeting place of this town while the rest of the town is slowly being rebuilt.


Temporary Classroom in Joplin, Missouri

The Joplin School District was in desperate need of temporary classroom space after a tornado tore through the city. The school district’s goal was to have temporary facilities constructed in time for school to start in the fall. Working seven days a week, M Space was able to provide Joplin School district with 26,360 square feet of classroom space at two different locations in record time; contract to occupancy was just 17 days! M Space provided Joplin Memorial High School with two modular buildings that contain classrooms, a wood shop and sciences labs and provided Joplin East Middle School with two buildings that contain science classrooms, an orchestra room, a band room, a choir room and equipment storage rooms. Site-built decks, ramps and stairs were added to the facilities at both locations and covered walkways connect the buildings, allowing the students to easily pass from one to the other.

Due to the speed of the project, an alternate foundation method was used. The buildings were set on an engineered base system with lateral and longitudinal supports. By using this system, the site-preparation time was minimized allowing the buildings to be delivered to the site faster. In order to accommodate band, orchestra and science equipment, several of the rooms in the buildings that M Space provided were larger than a typical classroom. It was important to the school district that the larger rooms have as much open space as possible. The buildings were engineered to allow the support pillars to be placed 25’ apart instead of the standard 10-12’. In addition, portable fume hoods were added to the science classrooms. The fume hoods are easily transferred between classroom stations allowing students to work safely without exposure to dangerous and toxic fumes. Lastly, fire alarms and security systems were installed in each building.

The fact that M Space was able to provide the buildings in such a short time frame saved the school money. The facilities were installed and ready for occupancy in time for the first day of school saving the district from having to postpone the official start date or from having to find alternate space for the first few weeks of school. The district also saved money on transportation costs by having the modular buildings located within the existing school district. In addition, all construction took place in the summer, eliminating site disruption to educators and students.



© Modular Building Institute. All media copyright of their respective owners and no portion of this story may be reconstituted or printed without owner permission.


Pinegrow Bootstrap Blocks