Inventing a technology to manufacture high-rise buildings is no small undertaking. Since 2008, we have spent thousands of man-hours in product development, including forming a supply chain of best-in-class OEM vendor partners. We created a joint venture with Allied Inventors, LLC, and this JV entity is home to the patents, patents pending and other intellectual property. The following is a time-line of the evolution of our building technology:
Version 1.0: Proof-of-concept design and engineering commenced in 2008, culminating in the Version 1.0 prototype built in a warehouse in 2011. The project included full scale studio and 2 bedroom/2bathroom units. The space layout, livability and kit-of-parts concept received rave reviews. However, the parts were not right and the conventional material and labor platform was too expensive and not scalable.
Version 2.0: In mid-2011, we began to redesign the panels and structural system interface. A manufacturing systems approach was used for wall and floor panel assembly. In 2015, SLI completed its first building, the 47+7 Apartments in Seattle’s University District. The parts flew together and everything fit. The 6-story, 24-unit building went up in 5 months from slab-on-grade. The project achieved above market rents and won several awards. Yet the construction costs were still too high due to field-work inefficiencies. (See “Projects” for more information on 47+7).
Version 3.0: In 2016, SLI was hired to take the 40-story, 1800 Terry project through the City of Seattle’s entitlement process (see “Projects” for more information on 1800 Terry). The design platform was converted to manufacturing software similar to what Boeing uses. Key moves included: dropping the tower weight to 20lbs/SF by eliminating concrete floors in the units; expanding the deck to the full length of each unit; and incorporating grey water treatment/heat recovery systems. Tower erection time dropped to 12 months. More importantly, estimated project costs came in at 5% less than a conventional Type I tower.
Version 4.0: Since mid-2016, significant product development enhancements have been made in the panels, the structural steel exoskeleton system and in the time it takes to finish each unit type. Sophisticated cost and project models have also been developed to assist in rapid and accurate assessment of building opportunities. Version 4.0 is ready for project deployment and scaling in urban markets.
Where do we go from here? Because SLI is a continuous improvement platform, additional enhancements are in the works to further reduce time and costs, while increasing quality and value.