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Washington, D.C.’s first modular apartment building breaks ground

Multifamily Housing

Washington, D.C.’s first modular apartment building breaks ground

Eric Colbert & Associates designed the building.


By David Malone, Associate Editor | September 29, 2020

Modo, the first modular apartment building in Washington, D.C. has begun construction. In a period of only eight days 44 custom designed modular boxes shipped from Pennsylvania were lifted into place by crane to create 16 of Modo’s 17 three-bedroom apartments.

The modules arrived onsite 80% finished. Each three-bedroom Modo apartment features built-in custom closets, shelving, desks meant to facilitate remote working, and a spacious living room with a pre-installed jumbo flat-screen TV. 

“We were looking for more efficient and environmentally-friendly alternatives to typical construction types,” said Grant Epstein, President of Community Three, the project’s developer, in a release. “Modular construction can reduce construction time by almost one-third, while generating far less onsite construction waste. Construction components typically exposed to the elements – such as windows and wood framing – are built with higher quality because they are assembled indoors. As a result, these modular units offer superior insulation, weather barriers, sound attenuation, and indoor finishes compared with those constructed traditionally.”

The community is designed to appeal to the twenty-somethings of Generation Z, with enough bedrooms to accommodate multiple roommates. An automated entry system will allow tenants to use a smartphone app to access both the building and their apartments.

In addition to the apartments, a concrete-and-steel podium, under construction since April, will house the building’s lobby and a 3,000-sf street-level retail space that can provide over 100 outdoor cafe seats. The lobby will be furnished with a seating area for relaxing, eating, and remote working. A green roof deck with seating and grilling areas will also be included, along with a single penthouse apartment with a private outdoor terrace that is being built on the roof level.

Urban Pace will begin pre-leasing the apartments in March, 2021. Community Three is partnering with Washington, DC-based Rooney Properties on the project. The team worked with the Modular Mobilization Coalition to select Philadelphia-based VBC Construction as modular contractor. VBC in turn partnered with Scranton, PA-based Simplex Homes as the modular fabricator. The manufacturing team worked closely with DC-based project architect Eric Colbert & Associates to ensure seamless integration of market focus and construction methodology.

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