Young Professionals & Students Housing With Modular Construction In Washington, DC

Young Professionals & Students Housing With Modular Construction In Washington, DC





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14 December 2018

Thesis Seminar Class: Fall 2018

Thesis Studio VIII: Spring 2019

Degree to be Awarded: May 2020

Master of Architecture

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction 3

1.1 Problem Statement 3

Research Question 4

Research Aim 4

Research Scope and Rationale 4

1.2 Objectives 5

Chapter 2: Background 6

2.1 Overview of Modular Construction and Modular Construction Projects 6

2.2 Dormitory in Washington D.C. and Student Population in Washington D.C 8

Chapter 3: Methodology 9

References 12

Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Problem Statement
The need for faster and efficient building construction is considered to be of utmost importance in the housing market with rising enrolment rates of students in universities. There is a significant focus on becoming environmentally conscious, cost-effective, innovative, as well as providing sustainable and affordable living alternatives for individuals. In this context, modular construction is beneficial for providing greener and faster benefits in resolving dormitory issues, the high cost of dormitories and a shortage of living space (Marcus, 2017). Students in Washington D.C. are facing affordability related challenges due to increasing dorm charges and high living expenses. Modular construction approaches are highly effective as they enable the in completion of the construction projects in a shorter duration than conventional construction approaches (Marcus, 2017).

Under modular construction techniques, buildings are constructed off-site in regulated environmental conditions via using same design structures, materials, codes and standards. However, several and constraints are associated with the use of modular construction approaches wherein it is identified that around 40 to 50 percent part of modular construction is left to complete on-site mainly because of transportation and structural reasons (Choi, Chen & Kim, 2017). It has been identified that inadequacies in transportation systems are creating challenges in the successful completion of modular construction projects. Further, it is stated that prefabricated construction techniques involve transportation and crane risks; thus, the use of modular construction in addressing cost issues and the lack of housing facilities for students is restricted via transportation problems. Additional, the constraints include logistics, costs, transportation, architectural design, regional manufacturing, delivery, codes and inspection (Choi, Chen & Kim, 2017). In this context, the proposal project focused on the subject of evaluating the visibility of dormitory with modular construction in Washington D.C. Modular construction can be helpful in addressing dormitory issues concerning pricing, living facilities but the use of modular construction involves transportation and cost-related challenges that need to be addressed adequately.

Research Question
The study is based on investigating the questions stated below:

R.Q.1 “What are the major dormitory related issues in Washington D.C?

R.Q. 2 “What are the potential benefits of modular construction in resolving dormitory related issues in Washington D.C?”

Research Scope and Rationale
The selected research topic has become an issue of concern with increasing costs of dormitories and lack of living space in DC also known as District of Columbia due to increased students population, who lives in off-campus as shown Table 1. Modular construction has numerous advantages in terms of unlimited design concepts and flexibility, but there is a need to eliminate key constraints and transportation limitations for leveraging its benefits and addressing dormitory issues in Washington D.C. The study outcomes can be beneficial for the construction sector along with providing a substantial contribution to the existing literature of modular construction. Exploration of the selected subject will be beneficial for the society as the demand for faster and greener construction is increasing. Hence, the research findings include strategic measures for eradicating challenges concerning modular construction techniques that can be considered by architects and construction project managers for improving their practices. Moreover, scholars and academicians can also consider this study while investigating the similar subject and exploring new dimensions of dormitory with modular construction, as well as its challenges, strategies and benefits.

1.2 Objectives
· To explore dormitory issues in Washington D.C.

This objective will explore dormitory issues existing in DC due to increased student population in the city and housing issues. Increasing population of students and shortage of housing facilities are becoming an issue of concern. Due to lack of housing facilities in the city, students are facing difficulties in getting accommodation in university campus. Along with this, cost, design and transportation related issues will also be evaluated for identifying the need for improvement in dormitories in Washington D.C.

· To examine the need and potential benefits of modular construction approaches

This objective will focus on evaluating the advantages of modular construction approaches for determining its needs and its potential contribution in resolving dormitory issues. Modular construction approaches are regarded to be advantageous for construction industry as these approaches are cost efficient and energy efficient in nature Further, information relating to reduced time duration in completion of projects based on modular construction can be helpful in understanding the need of modular construction with respect of dormitory issues.

· To analyse the challenges involved in the use of modular construction with a specific focus on cost and transportation

This objective will analyse the key challenges involved in the use of modular construction. Modular construction approaches are deemed to be beneficial in faster completion of construction projects but challenges concerning transportation of prefabricated parts hinder its widespread use. High cost is incurred in transporting prefabricated parts to installation sites. Thus, this objective will highlight prominent challenges faced in use of modular construction approaches.

· To suggest suitable measures for addressing modular construction challenges for resolving dormitory issues in Washington D.C.

This objective will be based on recommending strategic measures for addressing modular construction challenges for resolving dormitory issues prevailing in DC. The strategic measures will be suggested in the light of key challenges concerning cost and transportation problems of modular construction so that these measures can be adopted for constructing dormitories in an efficient manner.

Chapter 2: Background
2.1 Overview of Modular Construction and Modular Construction Projects
Modular construction consists of prefabricated room-sized units which are usually fully fitted and adjusted in manufacture for further installation as building blocks. The prominent benefits of modular construction are the speed of on-site installation, the economy of scale relating to the manufacturing of repeated units, improved accuracy and quality of operations (Chen, Okudan & Riley, 2010). It is examined that modular buildings can be reused and dismantled due to which its asset value is effectively maintained. Modular construction techniques enable in building a permanent and temporary building such as constructing camps, classroom and schools. Moreover, modular construction is extremely beneficial for rural or remote areas as conventional approaches to construction cannot be adopted in such area (Doran & Giannakis, 2011).

It is also asserted that modular construction is rapid and less expensive technique as this construction technique is unaffected by weather conditions and can resist earthquake forces in a better way. In the similar prospect, it is claimed that modular construction is a time-saving process under which building are manufactured off-site and then transported for installation that enables in saving time and cost involved in the site preparation process. The modular construction technique is highly preferred in today’s era as it involves prefabricated units that serve a perfect solution for addressing construction challenges in urban, rural and remote areas. Additionally, modular construction processes are sustainable and efficient in comparison to traditional construction approaches (Lu & Korman, 2010).

High rise residential building projects are undertaken within the United States (US) via the use of modular construction techniques. Multi-storey buildings ranging from four to eight are constructed with the help of a design method based on modular applications. However, pressure has been extended to this relatively emerged form of construction for building 12 storey buildings. Modular walls have been tested, and it is determined that external sheathing boards and the plasterboard protect C sections’ minor axis buckling (Lawson & Richards, 2010). Apart from this, a 57 storey skyscraper was constructed in total 19 days via utilising prefabricated modules. Tighter integration method and the bulk systems of prefabrication reduces thermal bridges. Prefabrication method provides several advantages such as improved quality, better quality control, the decrease in construction waste and reduction in on-site noise and dust (Boafo, Kim and Kim, 2016). In addition to this, it is examined that the reduction of labour and construction time are other advantages of using prefabrication. In this series, a 25-storey student residential has been built in Wolverhampton with an installation period of approximately 32 weeks. As a whole, prefabrication and use of modular construction process contributed towards reducing construction waste up to 70% that indicate positive environmental effects of modular construction. Under prefabrication single elements have been used such as gable ends, stairs, wood kits, wall frames and precast concrete (Lawson, Ogden & Bergin, 2011, pp 150-154).

The case study of the construction of 25 storey residential building in Wolverhampton depicts that modular construction methods can be utilised for improving stability against wind action when the building is constructed by steel framed core or concrete framed core. It is examined that modules utilising corner posts offer more flexibility in preparing room layouts, but corner posts modules are more expensive to manufacture in comparison to load-bearing systems utilising light steel (Lawson, Ogden & Bergin, 2011, pp. 149-153). It is evaluated that the construction period and cost was reduced with the use of modular approaches in the construction projects discussed above. It is also illustrated that modular buildings are cost-effective and sustainable, as well as they consume less time in the construction of buildings in comparison the conventional construction techniques. Overall, it has been noted that modular construction and prefabricated construction facilitate in improving the sustainability of construction practices via reducing negative environmental implications of construction practices (Quale et al., 2012, p. 247; Lawson & Richards, 2010, p.151).Modular constructions practices are also known as off-site construction technique that has several benefits in terms of reduced cost, noise, labour and other on-site activities. However, there is a need to manage transportation and crane risks involved in moving prefabricated modules to site for installation in modular construction (Chen, Okudan & Riley, 2010, p. 240).

2.2 Dormitory in Washington D.C. and Student Population in Washington D.C
As per University of District of Columbia (UDC) flagship report US census date, Georgetown University, George Washington and Catholic University witnessed surge in admission of students in 2018; wherein around 78 percent, 61 percent and 58 percent students are living in the campus of the universities respectively. Cost of housing is high in all the universities of DC with average of around 15K (UDC 2018 Flagship report). The report indicates that approximately 4805 students enrolled in 2018, out of which UDC’s require to fulfil need of housing to 1585 students that signify the dire need to take strategic actions in this regard. Increasing number of students including freshman, junior, sophomore and senior highlight the need for making housing arrangement for students in the city. It is also determined that American University and Howard University in Washington D.C. are also witnessing increase in the footfall of students and enrolment; wherein only 52 percent and 38 percent students are able to obtain accommodation in university campuses respectively (UDC 2018 Flagship report). Additionally, UDC is facing challenges in providing housing facilities to students. Overall, the data depicts that student population is rising in Washington D.C., thereby highlighting the need for rapid, energy efficient and cost-effective construction for addressing the issues of lack of accommodation.

Chapter 3: Methodology
Research methodology indicates the process of data collection and analysis so that research objectives can be fulfilled, and key questions can be answered. Research methods facilitate the researcher to investigate the chosen phenomenon and extract crucial findings in light of the main aim and core questions (Saunders, & Lewis, 2012). There are two prominent methods; qualitative methods and quantitative methods in which qualitative methods enable in carrying out the study in a subjective manner by focusing on gathering subjective perspectives and multiple viewpoints about the subject (Saunders, & Lewis, 2012). Hence, qualitative methods will be employed for conducting this study for gaining detailed information about dormitory with modular construction in Washington DC and examining the dormitory issues and advantages of modular construction methods. However, quantitative methods are also available for executing the study in which more attention is given to the objective aspects of the topic and extract facts and statistical information about the topic (Bryman, 2016; Bernard, 2017). Moreover, this particular study requires substantial information about modular construction approaches, their need, issues, challenges and strategies with specific reference to dormitory issues in Washington DC. Therefore, qualitative methods are preferred over quantitative methods.

Research design, research philosophy and research approach need to be applied in alignment with the research methods and the nature of the work. Qualitative studies support the use of interpretivism philosophy as this philosophy emphasises on subjective investigation via holding the notion that reality is consistently changing; hence the research problem cannot be addressed through a fixed set of statistical data or numerical information (Taylor, Bogdan and DeVault, 2015). The inductive approach and the exploratory design will be appropriate for gathering novel information about modular construction and its implications for addressing dormitory issues in Washington relating to increased pricing and accommodation issues due to the increased number of students. Further, the exploratory design will be applied so that the research process can be carried out in a flexible way (Taylor, Bogdan and DeVault, 2015).

Data Collection

Both primary and secondary data will be procured for accomplishing the study and obtaining relevant outcomes in which primary data will be gathered from the semi-structured interview method. Qualitative data can be obtained through primary and secondary data collection methods in which interview and focus group method are utilised for collecting first-hand data while case study method and library research method are used for gathering secondary data. Thus, the interview will be conducted with seven architects of Washington D.C. in the US for recording data about the benefits and challenges involved in the use of modular construction approaches. Data will also be gathered from interviewees for determining the role of modular construction in addressing dormitory related issues in Washington D.C. through its cost-effective, eco-friendly and faster construction techniques. Purposive sampling technique will be used for selecting participants for data collection through the interview.

Thematic analysis technique will be incorporated for examining data gathered from the interview and extract main findings in the light of objectives formed in the initial phase of the study. Ethical principles and norms of performing research will adequately comply throughout the study for maintaining reliability and quality of findings and overall research (Bryman, 2016; Bernard, 2017). Anonymity will be maintained, and consent of the participants will be taken prior to conduction of interview. Other than this, secondary data will be retrieved from academic journals and peer-reviewed articles in this study (Saunders, & Lewis, 2012).

UDC 2018 Flagship Report ( please remove this and nany related information in text)

Bernard, H.R. 2017. Research methods in anthropology: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Rowman & Littlefield.

Boafo, F.E., Kim, J.H. & Kim, J.T. (2016). Performance of modular prefabricated architecture: case study-based review and future pathways. Sustainability, 8(6), 558.

Bryman, A. (2016). Social research methods. Oxford university press.

Chen, Y., Okudan, G. E., & Riley, D. R. (2010). Sustainable performance criteria for construction method selection in concrete buildings. Automation in construction, 19(2), 235-244.

Choi, J. O., Chen, X. B., & Kim, T. W. (2017). Opportunities and challenges of modular methods in dense urban environment. International Journal of Construction Management, 1-13.

Doran, D., & Giannakis, M. (2011). An examination of a modular supply chain: a construction sector perspective. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 16(4), 260-270.

Lawson, R.M. & Richards, J. (2010). Modular design for high-rise buildings. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers-Structures and Buildings, 163(3), 151-164.

Lawson, R.M., Ogden, R.G. & Bergin, R. (2011). Application of modular construction in high-rise buildings. Journal of architectural engineering, 18(2), 148-154.

Lu, N., & Korman, T. (2010). Implementation of building information modeling (BIM) in modular construction: Benefits and challenges. Construction Research Congress 2010: Innovation for Reshaping Construction Practice.

Marcus, J. (2017). Study: Fast-rising room and board costs worsen college affordability problem, retrieved December 11, 2018, from

Quale, J., Eckelman, M. J., Williams, K. W., Sloditskie, G., & Zimmerman, J. B. (2012). Construction matters: Comparing environmental impacts of building modular and conventional homes in the United States. Journal of industrial ecology, 16(2), 243-253.

Saunders, M. N., & Lewis, P. (2012). Doing research in business & management: An essential guide to planning your project. Pearson.

Taylor, S.J., Bogdan, R. and DeVault, M. 2015. Introduction to qualitative research methods: A guidebook and resource. John Wiley & Sons.



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