While students' lives are different from soldiers' lives, they are similarly housed. On campuses and military bases, students and soldiers live in close, shared quarters. They share the desire to be comfortable in their "home away from home."

Campuses might look to the military’s use of modular building. At Fort Bliss, El Paso, Warrior set 500,000 sq ft of housing for troops in a six-month period.
Campuses might look to the military�s use of modular building. At Fort Bliss, El Paso, Warrior set 500,000 sq ft of housing for troops in a six-month period.

Dorms and barracks are both constructed using repetitive design layouts to create a uniform appearance inside the building. They must both meet strict safety requirements and are required to be produced quickly compared to other construction projects due to hard completion dates. Permanent modular construction offers durability for college students and soldiers.

When it comes to tight deadlines, modular construction can offer a solution. In a March 26, 2008 article, The New York Times reported that modular construction is increasingly used to create dormitories and classrooms for colleges and universities.

The Modular Building Institute says an average of 29% of the commercial modular building market from 2002 to 2006 was for educational purposes.

The Process Building barracks offers advantages to student housing builders, too.

Design teams are selected and worked closely with to develop a building layout. Once the product is designed to the client's specific needs and expectations, production begins. One benefit of permanent modular construction is the use of the Parallel Construction process, where on-site and off-site work is performed simultaneously, instead of sequentially. There is minimal on-site staging for materials, since all or part of the structure arrives pre-constructed and ready to be installed.

When site preparation and foundations are complete, the manufactured units arrive by trucks. Each box is set and joined with the next at the "mate line" and the units are finished out.

Construction time of the process is approximately one-third less than traditional construction, in our experience, allowing builders to earn a return on the investment sooner and minimizing exposure to risks.

The Advantages Builders can expect to shorten their construction timeline, meet accelerated deadlines, reduce labor resources and increase safety and sustainability.

Specifically, for student housing, a shorter construction timeline is a major advantage. Off-site construction and a faster completion mean less disruption on campus.

Permanent-modular construction allows colleges to meet deadlines associated with semester schedules and capture revenue from rents, rather than losing students due to lack of housing.

Flexibility of design is another advantage. Contrary to some perceptions, permanent- modular developments are not all one-level, rectangular designs; they are individually unique and built to the client's specific requirements. Permanent-modular buildings rival conventional built structures in durability and lifespan, and can be designed to blend into the architecture of a campus.

We've produced military residences with a wide variety of requirements ranging from private to “shared kitchen and bath units for two troops per unit." At San Antonio’s Fort Sam Houston, we constructed four-story buildings with a design reminiscent of high-end condos.

To most colleges and universities, building sustainable structures is of great interest and is another dimension in which permanent modular construction offers significant benefits. Permanent-modular construction is certifiable at several LEED levels. Since the sectional units are manufactured in a controlled environment, the construction produces less waste materials.

Campus housing builders can also learn from the military by building safe, permanent modular dorms that meet the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Antiterrorist Force Protection requirements, including progressive collapse - a feature we have incorporated into barracks including the military residences at Fort Sam Houston.

For more information, visit the city's Web site, www.greendallas.net.