Tiny Tuesday: Panelization in Action

Last week I wrote about three styles of modular construction: the “kit of parts”, panelization, and the volumetric method. One company is pitching panelization to add value in booming real-estate markets.

Denver-based Prescient manufactures lightweight steel frames for a building’s structural skeleton. Individual walls and floors are precisely assembled in a factory and easy to erect onsite. One thing that’s remarkable about the Prescient system is that it starts with only 12 stock steel shapes. In effect, while Prescient uses the panelization method of modular construction in the field, it also uses the kit-of-parts method in its factory to optimize material use and cut down on scraps.


An apartment building in Omaha uses the Prescient panelization system.

Prescient claims its product is strong enough to triple the feasible building height, which sounds ludicrous. I wonder if they are comparing lightweight steel frames to dimensional lumber stud walls. Wood is historically cheaper than steel as a structural material, but wood stud-wall construction tops out around five stories. Maybe the company is saying that when it comes to stick framing, the benefits of a panelized product make steel economically competitive with wood.

A 16-story apartment building could be microhousing, or it could contain larger units. As I stated in my very first weekly post, the purpose of Tiny Tuesday is to ask how you can live smarter – how your choice of housing can save you money and lighten your footprint on the planet. With over 120 Tiny Tuesdays to date, the answers to this question (so far!) are diverse: they may include the size of your residence, what you put inside it, how you power it, which resources you share with neighbors, and – in today’s case – how it’s built.

Thanks to Brett Silverstein.

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