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Modular Construction for Financial Viability: The Norwalk Project Case Study

Konstatin Daskalov, VP of US operations, Stack Modular
by Konstatin Daskalov, VP of US Operations, Stack Modular

In April 2023, Primestor, a real estate owner, and developer, along with their General Contractor, approached Stack Modular to evaluate their project, named “the Walk.” This multi-family residential complex is situated in Norwalk, California, and comprises two buildings with a combined footprint of 139,150 sq. ft. The development includes 58 dedicated affordable housing units and is slated to be the largest residential modular construction project in North America to date.

The initial on-site construction pricing provided to Primestor exceeded their budget by 25%, making the project financially unfeasible. Primestor enlisted Stack to assess the original project design and explore the benefits of Stack’s modular construction approach.

Stack’s Design team conducted a comprehensive review and Modular Design Analysis (MDA) of the project. They determined that a complete redesign for modular construction was necessary and recommended engaging Assemblage-Works Inc (AWI), specifically Michael Mathews, for the modular redesign.

Stack Modular provided preliminary modular pricing, proving to be significantly more cost-effective than the initial on-site construction estimate. Additionally, they presented a detailed Scope Delineation Matrix for the original General Contractor. Despite this, the updated estimate from the original project’s General Contractor remained higher than Primestor’s target budget. Primestor then sought new competitive bids for a general contractor and selected Bernards Construction based on their modular experience and collaborative approach.

Recognizing the need for an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) approach, Stack Modular organized a 3-day Design Charette in August 2023, fostering collaboration among AWI Architects, Primestor, and Bernards. The combined team of consultants and engineers collaborated in an open forum discussion, preserving the original design intent, and addressing factors like Unit Mix, Retail spaces, open space, and entitlement restrictions. After multiple iterations, a new concept design was finalized in June 2023.

Project Snapshot

Owner: Primestor
Type: Multi-family residential
Modules: 516
Buildings: 2
New Housing Units: 373
Floors: 7 / 5
Total Gross Area: 681,129 sq.ft.
Modular Gross Area: 356,129 sq.ft


The IPD collaborative approach resulted in an additional 20% reduction in pricing for both on-site and modular components, making the Norwalk project financially viable. Since then, all team members have been actively engaged in pre-construction efforts.

Stack Modular is set to build a full 1BR / 2 Module Unit for review by the end of May 2024. This will allow Primestor and the development team to assess the modular structure, MEP systems, and finishes, providing a valuable tool to identify any issues before Stack proceeds with full fabrication in October 2024.

The Norwalk project serves as a prime example of how Off-site Modular Construction, in collaboration with Architects, Consultants/Engineers, General Contractors (GC), and Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, and Fire Protection (MEP/FP) Subcontractors, can make projects financially feasible by closely working with the Owner/Developer under an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) approach.

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