ULI Arizona News

Housing Our Future: Building for Innovation

By Peter Madrid | MadridMedia

As demographics and the “American Dream” continue to change and evolve, so, too, is the way architects, developers, and general contractors are designing and building the latest housing options.

Housing models of the future – including the use of new materials and new delivery processes – provided for a compelling and thought-provoking ULI Arizona Main Program June 8 at The Esplanade Conference Center.

For years, commercial and residential builders have been doing the same thing over and over with the same results, said moderator Tim Sullivan, Managing Principal at Meyers Research.

“The multi-family and commercial industries are starting to change,” Sullivan said. “Attitudes are changing.”

Sullivan identified three key drivers for this change: a labor shortage; increased construction and lands costs; and anti-development attitudes.

The panelists represented a diverse cross section of the industry:

>> Brian Stark, co-founder of STARKJAMES: his company is utilizing shipping containers to construct its housing projects;

>> Mike Rock, President of Katerra Construction: a technology company that takes on construction;

>> Scott Root, Director of Virtual Construction at Kitchell: a champion of BIM (Building Information Modeling).

“Why use shipping containers?” asked Stark, whose LOCALSTUDIO collaborated with State Forty Eight to build a pop-up store utilizing a shipping container at Civic Space Park in Downtown Phoenix. “Because there is a large amount of them sitting in Port of Long Beach. They are expensive to break down, send back to China, and recycle.”

As a housing option, Stark added, they are durable and rather inexpensive (about $1,300 each).

Kitchell’s Kapture Group is utilizing the technology Root brings from the architectural side. “It’s a whole different world,” he said. “BIM and creating the plans we build. Our model is bringing in young architects. We are creating the next generation of master builders. This is a growing process as much as anything.”

Healthcare projects are benefitting from this model, Root said. It involves multi-trade assembly of projects. Disrupting, without actually disrupting on a healthcare campus, for example, where you don’t want a lot of construction on the site.

Katerra brings new technology to the established construction industry, Rock said.

“It’s an extension of what John F. Long and William Levitt (both early real estate developers) had in mind,” Rock said. “There are constantly changes in the building industry. Today it’s ‘where are we in the process and in the cycle.’ Technology represents the new change. An iPhone … that’s a building to us.”

It’s these new tactics developers and builders are employing to streamline delivery efficiencies and ways to capitalize on niche housing markets as unique opportunities.

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