A Shipping Container Prefab Lab Is Built in Only 4 Hours

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By Lucy Wang
A two-story prefab made of shipping containers offers a speedy solution to shortages of space on this college campus.

When classroom space was becoming limited for at Bard College in New York's Hudson Valley, representatives from the school looked to MB Architecture for a fast, effective fix. By utilizing prefabricated structures, the architects were able to design and deliver just that. 

Installed on site in half a day, the pre-finished and retrofitted shipping containers were assembled in as little as four hours, and were fully operational and occupied several days later.

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The only site prep required was pouring the concrete foundation walls.

The only site prep required was pouring the concrete foundation walls.

The new Media Lab on the middle of campus exemplifies the speed and efficiency of prefab cargotecture. Built double wide and double tall, the boxy two-floor building offers 960 square feet of adaptable meeting spaces and performance areas for the Department of Experimental Humanities

Installation started at 11 a.m. and the second floor was stacked by 3 p.m. later that same day.

Installation started at 11 a.m. and the second floor was stacked by 3 p.m. later that same day.

Following assembly, the team, directed by lead architect Maziar Behrooz, added trim boards between the upper and lower floors and connected the electrical and plumbing lines to the site utilities.

SnapSpace Solutions fabricated the cargotecture building. 

SnapSpace Solutions fabricated the cargotecture building. 

 "The project arose out of a grant of $100,000 and was prefabricated, delivered, and installed in half a day at a cost slightly over $200,000," says a member from MB Architecture. "As a prototype, it offers schools and universities an affordable solution to their urgent classroom space needs."

Stairs lead up to a small loft-like office that overlooks the meeting room below.

Stairs lead up to a small loft-like office that overlooks the meeting room below.

The architects expressed the multiple functions of the Media Lab through designing flexible and open-plan spaces that cater to meetings, lectures, workshops, exhibitions, performances, and more. A glazed garage-style door swings up to open the double-height main room to the quad, while also creating a stage for concerts and theatrical events.

The Media Lab has been painted black to recede into the woods.

The Media Lab has been painted black to recede into the woods.

Marvin Integrity Windows and Doors were installed to bring in copious amounts of natural light and to frame campus views.

Ample glazing blurs the distinction between indoors and out.

Ample glazing blurs the distinction between indoors and out.

While reconfigurable furniture includes chair seating for up to 16 people, the stairs can also be used as auditorium-like seating for lectures. The downstairs space of the Media Lab is open for reservations to the Bard community, and offers a variety of products, including sound recording equipment and a television for others to use.

The stairs double as auditorium-style seating.

The stairs double as auditorium-style seating.

The Media Lab is located in the middle of Bard College campus.

The Media Lab is located in the middle of Bard College campus.

The space can be reserved by students, staff, and faculty of Bard College.

The space can be reserved by students, staff, and faculty of Bard College.

The main room opens to the quad through a large pivoting garage door.

The main room opens to the quad through a large pivoting garage door.

A look at the Bard College Media Lab Section through the staircase.

A look at the Bard College Media Lab Section through the staircase.

Here are the Bard College Media Lab floor plans.

Here are the Bard College Media Lab floor plans.

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: MB Architecture

Fabricator: SnapSpace Solutions 

Interior/Lighting/Cabinetry Design: MB Architecture