Building Blocks: A First Look at the World's Tallest Modular Tower as it Opens in Brooklyn

Developers call it cutting edge — using modular construction to build towers. Now the tallest modular building in the world is open in Brooklyn and ready to welcome residents. Borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez got a first look inside.

The scaffolding will be moved out and residents will be moving in to this one-of-a-kind, 32-story building the world's tallest prefabricated steel structure and the world's only modular residential high-rise.

The prefabricated apartments were made off-site and joined here at 461 Dean Street. But it doesn't look like a stack of boxes.

"We have over 23 different apartment types here with variations on those," said Chris Sharples, founding principal of SHoP Architect. "So it's not one size fits all."

This large studio was made with five modules. The units were built here at Forest City Ratner Companies' factory at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. They were then trucked over and hoisted up.

"The 930 building blocks in a sense are stacked together, they're connected," said Adam Greene, of Forest City Ratner Companies. "They're bolted structurally. Then all the plumbing and electrical is connected and tied up together and then we cover up any of the seams."

The result is seamless. There are 360 rental apartments — 50 percent at market rate costing nearly $4,800 a month for a 2 bedroom. And 30 percent of the units are set aside for middle income and 20 percent for low income. Building amenities include lounges and a children's playroom.

The affordable housing lottery opened in April. There were 84,000 applicants.

This is the first housing complex of 16 to be completed at Pacific Park — the site formerly known as Atlantic Yards. It took much longer than expected, four years. Therefore, Forest City Ratner chose to go with standard construction for the other buildings. The company says innovation is always challenging.

"We think modular is the way of the future," Greene said.

461 Dean is adjacent to Barclays Center, also designed by SHoP Architects. The tower's oversized windows offer great views across the borough and down below, even on a rainy day. This rain watering the arena's green roof can be seen from some of the apartments.

"They'll be looking down on this huge green roof, in a way we see it as the ultimate Zen garden for Brooklyn," Sharples said.

But on a clear day, this is the view from the sky lounge and rooftop terrace.

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