I had the opportunity to meet with Ann Hand, CEO of ProjectFrog, last week. Project Frog is one of the smartest companies I have seen in the modular construction space, looking at revolutionizing the process of commercial building construction. Traditional stick-built construction makes little sense in this day and age, yet it is still the norm. Why have a linear process (prepare site, lay foundation, build building), when parallel processing means you can dramatically shorten the process with off-site construction? By preparing the site and laying the foundation at the same time that you construction the building, you cut months off the construction timeline, and you end up with a better product: one that is built in a dry, secure location, often with a tighter shell than is usually achieved on-site.
In Keiran Timberlake's treatise, Refabricating Architecture, the two Philly-based architects challenge the building industry to think like the automotive and aerospace industries. By rethinking processes, they posit, the construction industry can begin to catch up with the many manufacturing industries that have rethought every aspect of their logistics since the industrial revolution. The construction industry may have fancier inputs - better HVAC, higher quality materials, standardized components such as 2x4s - however the process it uses has changed little since houses were first built.
Keiran Timberlake's Loblolly House and its Cellophane House installation at MOMA are great examples of using standardized components to build homes that can be constructed - and eventually deconstructed - efficiently. The problem is, they are far from making them financially feasible. Project Frog, in contrast, has focused on the commercial building sector, and thought through every aspect of the supply chain, construction process, and installation phase. By thinking of a building as a system of systems, they are the closest I've seen to making modern modular make sense.
I'm passionate about sustainable architecture + energy + food and how advances in their technology can help save the planet.