A 4-Story Building in Berkeley Built in Just 4 Days!

Yes, a four-story apartment building went up within just four days in July, and it’s made of steel. The site is at 2711 Shattuck Ave near downtown Berkeley. It’s called Shattuck Studios, and it’s a building with 22 units of housing.


Each unit features sleek, stylish finishes, 9 ft ceilings, multi-purpose built-ins, stainless steel Energy Star appliances, furnished bedrooms and living areas, oversized windows and nice views from every unit, high-efficiency lighting and low-flow plumbing fixtures, enhanced indoor air quality, engineered soundproofing, generous storage spaces, and bike storage for residents.

Per SF Curbed, this new 22-unit project from local developer Patrick Kennedy (Panoramic Interests) is the first in the nation to be constructed of prefabricated all-steel modular units made in China. Each module, which looks a little like sleekly designed shipping containers with picture windows on one end, is stacked on another like giant Legos.

The project, initially approved by the city in 2010 as a hotel, then re-approved in 2015 as studio apartments, will be leased to UC Berkeley for graduate student housing and is slated to be open for move-in for the fall semester. In a few weeks, nearly two dozen UC Berkeley graduate students should be moving into the complex. The units will rent for $2,180 monthly for single-occupancy, said Kyle Gibson, director of communications for UC Berkeley Capital Strategies. Panoramic Interests, the developer, will do the building maintenance and cleaning.

UC Berkeley wasn’t involved in the design or construction, Gibson said. The project is one of several new developments recently completed or in the pipeline to increase student housing, he said. Some are university-built and owned, others leased.

“This is the first steel modular project from China in America,” Kennedy said, adding that new tariffs on imported Chinese steel hadn’t affected this project.

The modules were shipped to Oakland then trucked to the site. Kennedy notes that the cost of trucking to Berkeley from the port of Oakland was more expensive than the cost of shipping from Hong Kong.

The modules are now ready to be rented as 310 sq ft studio apartments with a bathroom, closets, a front entry area, and a main room with a kitchenette and sofa that converts to a queen-size bed. They come with flat-screen TVs and coffee makers.

What’s more, the floors in each unit are bamboo and tile. The appliances are stainless steel. The bathroom has an over-sized shower. The entry room has a “gear wall” for hanging backpacks, skateboards, bike helmets. Colors are grays and beiges and light browns.

The Lot size is 5,200 sq ft and has no car parking, but there are 22 bicycle parking spots. There’s no elevator, no interior common rooms except hallways, but there is a shared outdoor patio/BBQ area.

The modules were stacked on a conventional foundation. Electricity, plumbing, the roof, landscaping and other infrastructure were added. While using prefab material is less expensive than building from scratch, 65-75% of construction costs were still incurred on the site in addition to the crane operators, flagmen, truckers and special inspectors. In addition, in lieu of providing affordable units on site, Kennedy will pay a fee to the city of Berkeley’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, as required under the city’s affordable housing laws. The amount is around $500,000, he said.


Local developer Patrick Kennedy, who works with Panoramic Interests / Pankow Builders of Oakland, said, “We learned that smaller sites posed lots of difficulties — access, traffic management, proximity to neighbors. We might have saved some money building this conventionally, but we view this more as a research & development project — and in that capacity, it was very helpful and educating.”

“The goal — and hope — is that prefab will open the door to more affordable housing through lower construction costs. “We’re still trying to determine the optimal size. It’s a pretty new idea here in Northern California. We are learning as we go,” he said.

Source: Panoramic.com, Berkeleyside.com, SF Curbed

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