They came for the house tours and the rotating deejays. They came for the 100-plus exhibitors, including furniture makers, interior designers, and architects. But the 7,500 people who attended CA Boom 3 in March also came, in large part, to learn more about prefabricated housing. The Santa Monica, Calif., design event's “fabprefab zone” was a show within a show of 10 companies (many of them architect-led) that produce and sell prefab homes. Put together by CA Boom organizer Charles Trotter and fabprefab.com founder, publisher, and editor Michael Sylvester, the zone highlighted various approaches to solving the prefab puzzle. Venice, Calif., architect Whitney Sander's Hybrid House, for example, borrows pre-engineered steel building technology from the warehouse manufacturing industry and mixes it with traditional site-based finish work. Marmol Radziner Prefab, a venture by L.A. architecture and construction firm Marmol Radziner and Associates, creates custom steel-framed modules in its own factory, complete with exterior and interior finishes. And factory-cut SIPs serve as the on-site framing material for San Francisco-based CleverHomes.
Even architects without their own prefab businesses are getting into the act: Santa Monica-based prefab developer LivingHomes hired Ray Kappe, FAIA, to design its first group of models, and David Hertz AIA Architects is working on the second. Among other fabprefab zone participants were Hive Modular, kitHAUS, Michelle Kaufmann Designs, EcoContempo by Northern Steel International, iT house by Taalman Koch Architecture, and v2world. A pair of well-attended panel discussions moderated by Sylvester addressed topics such as sustainability, cost, and customization. “The subject matter seems to be very interesting to people,” Sylvester says, and the considerable buzz surrounding the prefab exhibitors confirmed his impression.