Archive for October, 2014


Low-end fiber cement products can be found cladding relocatable modular buildings across the country.  For buildings like this, residential grade fiber cement products work perfectly well at a competitive price point.  But for a high-traffic, permanent and site-specific modular building such as a hotel, high-density fiber cement is preferable.

Or it was until we learned of the Ultra High Performance Concrete Panels fabricated in the U.S. by TAKTL.  These glass fiber reinforced concrete panels take the durability factor of fiber cement to an even higher level and introduce custom textures and patterns.

Check their products out for yourself and keep your eyes peeled in 2015 as you may just see this product cladding a forthcoming Mark Line project.


We think Vaproshield has one of the best products out there for weather resistive barriers in rainscreen envelope design.  Their self-adhering sheets work very well in the indoor fabrication environment and even further accelerate the construction process in comparison to mechanically fastened products.

Our friends at Vaproshield recently featured our collaboration in NYC on their site, saying:

WRAPSHIELD SA® SELF-ADHERED was a logical choice for Mark Line Industries and the project team. The product provides the 12’ by 40’ units superior protection against changing weather. WRAPSHIELD SA® SELF-ADHERED helps to regulate air flow to keep units cool in the summer and warm in the winter, thus reducing energy costs. The product’s vapor permeability can reduce the effects of moisture damage such as mold, mildew and rot to assist in ensuring the units’ lasting structural integrity. VaproShield products contain zero VOCs, meeting Mark Line Industries’ rigorous sustainable design build standard.

Many readers of our blog may have noticed that Mark Line has moved upmarket recently and has been delivering architecturally demanding, urban modular buildings in places like New York City.  One challenge is fire protection.  The standard answer for this is cast in place concrete, which Mark Line is very familiar with, but we are always seeking innovation and ways to further compress the construction timeline.

Cast in place concrete takes time to pour and reinforce slabs (whether with welded wire mesh or rebar) and in the accelerated construction arena, slabs introduce an element of cure time.  For a year round builder like Mark Line, this is also problematic in winter.  Finally, the weight of the finished volumetric unit can dictate a larger size of crane in the field, introducing added costs.

One solution we have found is Structocrete from USG.  It is a non-combustible panel that provides similar fire protection properties while weighing less than a cast in place slab or precast.  We recently used this product on our NYC Urban Housing Project.


Courtesy of our friends over at Keel Architectural Products, comes this amazing and modern passive prefab kit house.  Four days, a wireless screwdriver, a friend, and this kit of insulating blocks, wooden panels and a CLT frame deliver an attractive and passive house.

The prototype shown here was built in the south of France and the prefab kit was designed by Multipod-Studio.  For those worried that passive homes are too costly up-front, these forward thinking designers are proving that is anything but the case.



The quest to create an affordable, modular home paradigm to satisfy the growing need for housing in the developing world has long been a thought topic for architects, developers, NGOs, and governments worldwide.  It seems the thrust of these efforts have often involved modification of shipping containers.  Here at Mark Line we have experience modifying existing ISO containers and fabricating new containers with custom dimensions.  This idea has some great benefits to recommend it as there are hundreds of thousands of cargo containers spread across the entirety of the world.  In practice though, the modified container solution is rarely as cost effective or appropriate as designers think it will be.  Nearly every opening cut into the container requires steel to be welded back in to maintain structural integrity.  The standard ISO dimensions also aren’t ideal for human habitation.  Inhabitat has a great article about a new idea that has much to recommend it – modular homes fabricated from upcycled shipping pallets.  Designed by two students, the structure is modular, attractive, and affordable.  Read more about the Pallethaus on Inhabitat.

modular urban housing

Our urban density interim housing prototype fabricated for NYC OEM and FEMA with partners Garrison-Architects and AMSS was recently opened to the public for the Open House NY weekend (OHNY).  The fine folks at CurbedNY took a very detailed tour of the project and had many nice things to say.  Well worth your time to take the photo tour and read the article if you haven’t had a change to see it yourself.  Photos courtesy of CurbedNY and Evan Bindelglass.  Read more here.

Brian Ho

Google Glass and augmented reality are interesting concepts that we are waiting for with great anticipation.  We submitted a (non-winning) entry to Google’s prototype contest that asked “what would you do with Glass”.  This brainstorming exercise really got us interested in what commercial augmented reality products like Glass could do when coupled with modular fabrication and parametric design software like BIM.  3D models of a building could be overlaid in the user’s field of vision allowing them to see what they are to build in real-time.  Such “hands free” blueprint technology could really improve the already great efficiency on the modular shop floor.  What other ideas do you have for how this technology could be utilized in the building sector?


I was visiting a jobsite the other day and noticed the sudden prevalence of tablets and smartphones, even in the dirty and often chaotic environment of a construction site.  At Mark Line, we can easily integrate technology in our factory as it is indoors and out of the elements.  This led our IT department to wonder what kind of apps might exist to ease construction workflow and assist buildings professionals.  The Daily Reporter delivered a recent list of the 14 best construction apps.  See what you think!


The Mark Line family of companies recently welcomed a new member – a 3D printer.  Our sister company, Look Trailers, is currently using it to 3D print full-size models of parts and components.  Mark Line is excited to use the printer to create scale models of volumetric units to truly help clients and staff alike to visualize a completed unit as it will be built.  As a company that prides itself on innovation, we feel 3D printing technology, along with modular construction, will soon disrupt the construction industry as a whole.  Already, in Shanghai a company is 3D printing full scale homes out of a concrete polymer, and in Amsterdam a group of architects is endeavoring to 3D print a canal house.  Beyond even 3D printing, scientists at MIT recently announced they had successfully completed a prototype of 4D printing, meaning self-folding strands of 3D printed material.  This makes us consider the day when a wall can be 4D printed and automatically form raceways for electrical and mechanical systems automatically.  What do you think?


As one of a few Approved Fabricators certified by New York City to deliver site-specific modular construction into the five boroughs, we at Mark Line keep a close eye on the projects that our peers have underway.  In the past year, a number of very impressive modular buildings have been erected in the Big Apple.  One of the most daring, is the B2 Tower at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, just a few blocks from where Mark Line’s urban housing prototype is in use by the City.  Despite the commercial dispute between the developer and the construction manager, this project is still quite innovative and we hope to see our friends at FCS Modular back into fabrication very soon.  Popular Mechanics leads off their October issue with a great in-depth feature that is worth reading here.