Endicott College balances innovation and efficiency for new student residence

December 4, 2014

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With the goal of increasing student involvement on campus and strengthening the relationship with the community, Endicott College is adding a new student residence for upperclassmen. The project is just one of a handful of the latest improvements to the campus that has been shepherded by College President Dr. Richard E. Wylie.

In order to meet the College’s goal of adding nearly 300 beds next year, the new residence hall had an extremely tight schedule. Slated for completion in fall 2015, the design and construction schedule was compressed into 14 months – a nearly impossible timeline. To meet these expectations, Endicott College, Bergmeyer, and Windover Construction made a collective decision to investigate the use of prefabricated modular construction.

Prefabricated modular construction, or “prefab,” was popularized in the 1950s to meet the housing need of the growing baby boom generation.  But because of its history as a method of mass-producing homes, prefab had become associated with inexpensive and poor quality construction. Today, however, modular construction is very different. More and more designers and construction firms are relying on this method to increase the quality of the craftsmanship and reduce the amount of time spent on-site doing traditional construction. In addition, advances in building information modeling technology now allow architects at Bergmeyer to manage the design process in an incredibly efficient manner.

The new student residence hall at Endicott College will be constructed with the same materials used in traditional fabrication, except it will be built off-site in a highly controlled environment. The fabricators, Ritz-Craft of Mifflinburg, PA, are the largest family owned, off-site built modular home manufacturer in the country. By building indoors, the prefab units will be protected from weather-related damage while allowing the residential units to meet more stringent commercial building code requirements.

Bergmeyer embraced and leveraged the constraints of modular construction, producing a contemporary-looking scheme without sacrificing quality. As prefabricated units must be transported from the production facility to the site, the first major constraint was Federal Highway Administration regulations for size and loads. To meet this constraint, all the modules were designed to be 12’-0” wide: right-sized for transportation and appropriate for the housing program. Meeting highway height restrictions also required structure and mechanical systems to be meticulously studied.

The prefab modules will be shipped completely watertight and the exterior skin will be applied after installation. Ultimately, nearly 85% of the building will be fabricated off-site, with only the main entries and unique lounge spaces being traditionally constructed. For the exterior cladding, a randomized pattern of glazing, openings, and materials disguises the modules’ reading, enriching the perception of the building’s construction.

Each apartment-style unit is designed for 4 or 6 beds in a combination of single and double bedrooms. In total, the building houses 295 beds, reaching Endicott College’s expanded housing goal while incorporating amenities like student lounges, collaborative study rooms, fitness room, and in-unit laundry.

Bergmeyer is excited to be a part of this innovative project, an unfamiliar territory for most in the building industry. An intensely collaborative design/build approach from the start of the project will result in an efficient and innovative new residence hall at Endicott College.