Are modular homes the wave of the future? They will be if Christian Lawrence has anything to say about it.
Lawrence is the founder and CEO of Rise Modular, a commercial volumetric modular manufacturing and construction firm. The company sidesteps the traditional stick-building process by building pieces of a building, or volumetric mods. As Lawrence explains it, that means six-sided mods with the floor, ceiling, all the walls, all the interior finishes, kitchens, bathrooms, in a manufacturing facility on an assembly line.
Once built, the pieces are moved to a job site where they’re stacked on site to complete the building. The method is meant to cut down on costs in construction and reduce waste in the process. Rise Modular is the first modular housing manufacturer in Minnesota.
Lawrence started Rise not quite five years ago. Before that he was a founding partner of Lake Harriet Development. It was there that he saw the upside in offsite and volumetric modular construction — and that construction costs were outpacing rent and wage growth. Some research showed that the use of volumetric modular manufacturing in Europe and Asia had been done successfully for decades.
One memorable project for Rise was the Alvera apartment building in St. Paul. Developed by Ackerberg and Northland Real Estate, the company helped construct a 193-unit, 129,400-square-foot building in the West 7th neighborhood.
“It was one of the largest and most complex modular projects ever built in North America,” said Lawrence. “We’re really proud to have been a part of it.”
Working with Enterprise Community Partners, Rise is currently working on the Glenwood, a 127-unit project under development in Minneapolis. The project is due to be finished next summer.
“We’re going above and beyond inclusionary zoning on that project,” he said. “It’s located in an opportunity zone, so it’s a unique project from a financing and operating standpoint.”
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