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Modular Building Design
Childcare Facility for 126 Students
Gross Size of Project:
- Architectural Excellence
This 13,500 sq ft children’s center was designed to optimize program space, both indoor and outdoor on a restricted site and contribute architecturally to the MIT campus. The two-story solution maximized outdoor play spaces on the constrained site. We chose to celebrate the modularity both volumetrically and in detail. Taking advantage of the inherent structural properties of the steel modular construction, we cantilevered three modules over the entrance, providing much needed weather protection while creating additional useful outdoor space at the opposite end of the structure. Various modules were made shorter to create recessed porches enhancing the indoor-outdoor continuity, fundamental to the early education program. A precise and holistic detailing system was developed utilizing extruded aluminum channels to provide a refined detail resolution at each joint where modules abut. Complex colors were employed in fiber panel siding providing a dynamic and playful overall composition.
- Technical Innovation & Sustainability
This project was required to meet the Mass “Stretch” Energy code adopted by the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The "Stretch" code requires improved energy efficiency, insulation and other building performance measures beyond those defined by national standards. Sophisticated lighting controls and daylight harvesting optimize light quality as well as minimize energy usage. Insulation systems combine traditional batt and rigid board along with spray in foam applications to optimize the thermal integrity of the overall envelope. The prefabrication in an offsite location enabled more precise installation of these systems. Mechanical systems were designed to work with natural ventilation systems such as operable windows and ceiling fans to optimize air quality and comfort while minimizing energy use. Further, this strategy supports the educational objective of connecting children to the natural world.
- Cost Effectiveness
A primary reason for the use of modular construction for this project lies in the nature of the construction challenges inherent to the site. Tightly constrained (with only 10 ft. between the north wall and an active railroad line), conventional construction would have required additional time and costly coordination to complete this complex project in the midst of an active university campus. Further, the site required significant soils remediation, along with driving of over 125 piles to prepare for foundations. This complexity arose from the fact that the site was originally reclaimed via landfill along the Charles River. The work preceded casting of foundations and was time consuming. By pre-constructing the building offsite simultaneous to the site preparation, months and corresponding costs were removed from the project. The 21 modules were then trucked to the site and “set” in three days, minimizing disruption on campus and in the busy and dense urban city of Cambridge.