Next-generation multifamily housing model unveiled

SEATTLE--A leading Pacific Northwest architecture firm today unveiled a next-generation model for multifamily housing, introducing a component-based “kit-of-parts” solution. This innovative building system is more scalable and customizable than current alternatives, while simultaneously filling an industry need for timely, cost-effective and energy efficient buildings.

Sustainable Living Innovations (SLI), a new company formed by award-winning Seattle architecture firm CollinsWoerman, today unveiled a prototype in a warehouse in south Seattle. The company believes the full-scale, furnished model provides a look at the future of multi-housing buildings. By combining breakthrough design and engineering, individual components are constructed off-site then installed on-site, resulting in lower building costs and better living experiences. SLI is the only component-based concrete and steel building system on the market that is scalable to mid-rise structures (six stories) and above, customizable to virtually any urban footprint.

“SLI was borne out of the recent economic downturn and a realization that new models are needed to meet the growing demand for housing,” said Arlan Collins, principal at CollinsWoerman. “Conventional construction is too costly, takes too long and contains too much risk. New economic realities are changing the way buildings need to be built.”

After setting a foundation, SLI begins by pouring separate concrete floor slabs on the footprint of a building. A pre-fabricated steel frame is erected around it to form the structure. Utilizing a patent-pending system, the roof and subsequently each floor slab are lifted into place using internal hydraulic jacks. Each lift contains all the components for the floor (i.e. window system, interior walls, cabinets, and fixtures). The process is repeated with each floor of the building.

The product is dramatically faster to construct, translating to a quicker move-in than conventional buildings. The money saved in design and construction allows for high-quality materials to be used, enhancing the value and durability of the product as well as delivering a better overall living experience.

SLI buildings feature attractive design elements and materials such as high-quality cabinets, frosted glass shower doors and wood paneling. Ceiling-to-floor glass windows, polished concrete floors and walls built to condominium sound standards, offer occupants a living experience once thought only to come at a high price. “The design eliminates wasted space by trading windowless hallways for open courtyards and significantly reduces the building’s carbon footprint,” Collins said.
“SLI’s design has implications for the rental market nationally thanks to demographic and economic trends that favor renting,” said Jonathan B. Eisen, managing principal with The Eisen Group, a leading Washington, D.C. development consulting, urban planning and architectural firm, and SLI’s partner on the East Coast.

CollinsWoerman has partnered with several local firms to create SLI: DCI Engineers for civil and structural engineering, Lydig Construction for general contracting, and McKinstry for mechanical, electrical and plumbing. The buildings feature the latest and best technology from each of the partner firms.
Developers have been keen to find less expensive ways of building. “Before SLI, you weren’t able to find a cost and time efficient solution to urban growth,” Collins said. “We will offer the first turnkey product at a fixed price and we’ll guarantee the delivery time. That’s something you aren’t likely to ever hear from a contractor.”

SLI recently began showing the model to select developers and real estate investors. Collins said the concept has been well-received and negotiations are in the final stages with several clients. He commented further that because of each building’s quality, flexibility, and speed-to-market capability, SLI an excellent solution for a wide range of housing applications, including market rate, affordable and university housing.

About CollinsWoerman

Established in 1988 and located in Seattle, Washington, CollinsWoerman is a collaborative architecture, design and planning firm providing integrated, sustainable solutions that contribute to a greater social good. The award-winning firm plans and designs for a wide variety of project types, including healthcare, mixed-use, commercial and retail developments, sustainable communities, science and technology facilities and corporate interiors. The company launched Sustainable Living Innovations in 2011.

SOURCE: CollinsWoerman

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