Prefab Goes Big, Onstage Preview
By Aaron Britt / Published by Dwell

For our session we're talking about prefab at all scales. Your project, Grow on Bainbridge Island, could be very large indeed. Why prefabricate the houses that are a part of Grow?

Ocean House built by pieceHomes.

Prefabrication, in this case panelization, allows for a more efficient construction process, thereby saving time and money.

How many are built now and how many are on the boards?

Three homes have been completed at Grow Community. There are three homes currently being framed, four with completed foundations, and four have foundations being built. The first three-acre phase will have a total of 24 single family homes and 20 apartment units in two buildings. Construction on these will be completed late this year. There is a five-acre second phase that will have 26 more single family homes and an additional 61 multi-family units.

You've got a variety of types of homes at Grow. Can you tell me how they differ from each other? The benefits of each model?

There are actually four different models of homes plus the rowhouse apartment buildings. All of these homes are also available from pieceHomes as modular homes. The single-family homes range from 1,100sf to 1,850sf. They include: the Tallis, has which has two bedrooms and one or two baths. This is available as both a freestanding home and a duplex. The Aria, at 1,540 sf, has two bedrooms, two baths, a mudroom and a large open flexible living space. The Ocean, is our multi-generational home that offers two master suites, one on the ground floor and one upstairs, with a large roof top deck off it. The Everett, is the family house with three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, a mudroom off the entry and an office/play area and study. The rowhouse apartment building, also designed to be built modularly, has 450sf studio apartments, 900-square-foot two-bedroom flats and 1,050-square-foot two-story, two-bedroom town homes. This will also available from pieceHomes later this year.

Is there a scale of development at which prefab wouldn't work? Or can you just keep making them?

In my mind the larger the development project the more suited it becomes for prefab; as repeatability of the same design is really where you see savings in the cost of construction. For example, a factory can be more efficient if it can produce 10 of the same home, whether you are building modular or panelized.

Note, the Prefab Goes Big panel will also feature architects Leo Marmol and Whitney Sander.

After the panel, head over to Dwell Outdoor and explore one of the many prefabs present, including Sustain Design Studios, LivingHomes, pieceHomes, Sett Studio, IT House, and Method Homes.

This article was originally published on May 23, 2013 on our sister site, Dwell on Design.

Aaron Britt


Aaron writes the men's style column "The Pocket Square" for the San Francisco Chronicle and has written for the New York Times, the Times Magazine, Newsweek, National Geographic and others.

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