Shipped from Europe and stacked like Lego blocks, the modular units that make up citizenM hotel offer a unique construction method in Seattle’s South Lake Union.

General contractor Mortenson is currently assembling the citizenM hotel designed by Gensler’s Seattle office by stacking hotel modular units atop a traditionally constructed concrete podium. The design and delivery method — structural modular design— has been widely adopted in Europe, Asia and Australia and now makes its way to Seattle with citizen as the first full modular hotel in North America.

The parts of the modular units were assembled at citizenM’s factory in Europe where workers make the bed, hang the television and lock the doors. Workers then wrap the prefabricated rooms  in plastic, pressurize them to keep windows in place and shipped them to the construction site. Manufactured and produced under the supervision of inspectors, including inspectors from the City of Seattle, the entire set of units was then shipped on a private vessel from Europe to Seattle. An air and water barrier protected each room and held it in place during the installation process.

“CitizenM’s modular design provides many advantages over traditional construction methods, including shorter constructions schedules, consistent quality control and reduced site disruption,” says Phil Greany, a Mortenson general manager, in a statement.

The seven-story citizenM will have a total of 264 rooms. The modules arrived at the Port of Seattle Aug. 8, fully finished minus the mattress, pillow and towels, inside custom steel enclosures. The project team – including Mortenson, Gensler, Arup and Polcom Moduling – then started stacking the modules on the pre-poured podium. The hotel is scheduled to open in late summer 2019.

Mortenson claims that modular solutions can alleviate Seattle’s regional construction issues, such as rising costs, skilled labor shortages, congested jobsites and truck traffic and pedestrian coordination. The modular approach was also designed to reduce construction waste by 60 percent. The citizenM boutique hotel chain, based in the Netherlands and with sites across Europe, claims by constructing every aspect of the room in the same location in Europe it can create a consistent experience.

“This product will disrupt the traditional hotel market from a speed-to-market standpoint,” says Chad Yoshinobu, design director and principal with Gensler, in a statement. “And it will be the next delivery platform for the residential and student-housing market.”

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