The colorful two-story building located at 1255 NE 128th Street in Miami is the first building to be constructed from a new hybrid modular system that it’s manufacturer, Worldwide Modular, says can construct multifamily buildings 50% faster and for up to 30% less money than a typical site-built structure.

“Today, affordable housing means a wealth transfer based upon tax credits, subsidies, and direct grants,” says Gary B. Goldman, president of Worldwide Modular. “The way to make housing affordable is to simply reduce the cost of construction. My system does just that.”  

Incorporated in 2008, Worldwide manufactures a modular hybrid system that, like single-family modular systems, consists of factory prefabrication and on-site construction. “We developed the prototype hybrid modular system to overcome the two constraints with modular—shipping distance and building height,” Goldman says.

To solve the problems of shipping and height, the company devised a system that is similar to a wine rack. It includes a site-built structural skeleton system of columns and beams made from steel and concrete (the wine rack) and a factory-built apartment module that slips into the grid.

“We can insert the apartment module in a typical shipping container so it can be shipped anywhere by ship, truck, or train, and to any site,” Goldman says. Once the modules are inserted, all that remains is the connection of utilities and the installation of limited interior and exterior trim to create a seamless and unified structure, the company says.

While other modular home construction systems are limited by building height limitations—six to eight stories—the Worldwide system can construct multifamily buildings as high as any skyscraper, and they can be built anywhere in the world.

In this case, the company used a 4-inch concrete slab, 20-gauge steel studs, 5/8-inch exterior plywood sheathing, and 5/16-inch Hardi Panel fiber cement cladding. Each 900-square-foot apartment has two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Nigel F. Maynard is a senior editor at Builder magazine.