MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL IS taking modular building to the next level. The company has announced plans to build the tallest hotel constructed using the building technique in which stacks of pre-assembled components, including entire rooms, are stacked on site into a building.
The AC Hotel New York NoMad is scheduled to open in late 2020. The 360-foot-tall tower will be “stacked” over 90 days using prefabricated and pre-furnished guestrooms, according to Marriott. It will even come with a modular roof and modular rooftop bar.
More than just another addition to the Marriott portfolio, the NoMad is part of a mission the company undertook in 2015 to spread the use of the modular building technique.
“In North America, the construction process hasn’t changed significantly in 150 years and it’s ripe for innovation,” said Eric Jacobs, Marriott’s chief development officer for North America for select and extended stay brands. “The world’s tallest modular hotel in one of the world’s greatest destinations will act as a game-changing symbol to ignite even greater interest in modular among the real estate and lending industries.”
The 168 rooms for the 26-story NoMad will be fully constructed in a factory and brought to the Sixth Avenue construction site. Each room’s walls will be painted and will come with beds (complete with linens), flooring and toiletries. Only public areas like the hotel’s restaurant and lobby will be built using traditional methods.
Marriott executives like modular building because it reduces construction time, curbs site waste and noise and is of higher quality. The time saving comes from simultaneously building the public spaces on site while manufacturing the guest rooms offsite.
“This is the moment where modular construction takes center stage,” says modular building advocate Danny Forster with Danny Forster & Architecture, the NoMad’s designers. “This hotel takes every advantage of off-site manufacturing, as you might expect. But it does so in a way that defies expectation. We wanted to demonstrate that modular building can do more than just harness the efficiencies of the factory. It can produce a graceful and iconic tower. And yes, it can do so at the rate of an entire floor a day.”
Marriott began serious research into modular building techniques in 2014 and by 2015 the company was promoting it to owners, franchisees, architects, lenders, consultants, general contractors and others by hosting town halls, factory tours and stacking events. Since the beginning of that initiative 31 Marriott-brand hotels have opened using at least some prefabricated guestrooms and bathrooms, but all were low-rise structures.
The company also has launched modular versions of its prototypes for four of its higher-volume brands: Courtyard by Marriott, Fairfield by Marriott, SpringHill Suites by Marriott and TownePlace Suites by Marriott. But Marriott is not the only major company embracing the technique.
The first modular-built hotel in the San Francisco Bay Area, scheduled to open next month, will be a Home2 Suites by Hilton developed by Flowood, Mississippi –based Southern Hospitality Services Inc. and its subsidiary Akshar Development Inc. Ramesh “Roy” Patel is CEO and president of Southern Hospitality Services. Vijay Patel is executive vice president of Southern Hospitality Services and president of Akshar Development.
BJ Patel, who runs Southern Hospitality Services’ Redwood City, California, office said previously the company decided to go with modular construction for several reasons.
“First, the quality of the product because it is built in an enclosed environment; acoustic-wise, there is nothing better. Second, the construction timeline is shorter. You know the saying ‘Time is money?’ In construction it is real money,” he said. “And, third, in the Bay Area we have had a hard time finding enough skilled construction workers to complete a job. It is next to impossible. All in all, going modular made sense for us.”