Scope: Next LVL is a modular multifamily building in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 280-unit project was awarded following the success of a 141-unit building from the same builder.

Solution: MagicPak units were installed in the factory during the building process, dramatically reducing the time and cost of trades onsite. A variety of colored louvers blends seamlessly across exterior colors.

Results: Using MagicPak All-In-One HVAC Systems helped shave off two months of labor time while meeting the architect’s aesthetic vision. By eliminating outdoor equipment, Next LVL could provide tenants with an amenity-filled space on the rooftop with unobstructed views of the city

The construction of modular multifamily housing projects in high-density urban areas is commonly inundated with tight spacing constraints, busy streets, difficult deliveries, and the pressure to get high-rent units finished and filled quickly.

With these constraints in mind, developer Alterra Property Group engaged the Volumetric Building Companies (VBC) to build 280 multifamily housing units in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A specialist in modular construction, the Philadelphia-based VBC was tasked with combining on-trend exterior aesthetics and on-site amenities in a design that attracted young residents and sped the residency process. This included employing MagicPak to quickly complete the project with simplified construction methods, optimizing the building’s square footage with improved aesthetics and amenities, and ensuring occupant comforts with easy maintenance and dependability.

Needing to fit as many units as possible into the Next LVL building footprint, the MagicPak All-In-One HVAC System eliminated the need to run vertical line sets throughout the building, meaning square footage traditionally needed for chaseways could be used for hallways or living units. According to Sara-Ann Logan, VBC vice president of design, it also simplified the overall design process. “We don’t have to worry about line sets running into fire sprinkler lines and all of the other things that we have running through a complex system.”

Another benefit was that most of the HVAC work was done offsite under controlled conditions. “By utilizing MagicPak’s technology on this project, all of the work is done in the factory,” says Robert Schmalbach, VBC vice president of construction. “When it comes to the site, all we need to do is commission that unit, turn it on, and it works.”

With the MagicPak All-in-One HVAC system, the units, ductwork, and thermostat were installed into each living unit at the factory, reducing onsite HVAC work from 90 days to just 30. To match the architect’s vision, the MagicPak team ensured the exterior louvers would blend with each of the building’s exterior materials. Finally, by keeping 280 condensing units off the roof, MagicPak allowed for the addition of an expansive rooftop lounge with greenspace and other high-value amenities.

Also essential to the project was the creation of a fun living experience. “Most of the tenants here are younger and looking for different ways to hang out and spend time,” says Schmalbach. And according to Logan, the most prized spaces are often outdoors. “When you’re in a city environment and every inch counts, you really don’t want to waste space by putting condensers in places that could otherwise be livable space or provide some sort of amenity to the tenants. In the city with very dense living, you also always want to make sure that your tenants have the ability to connect to the outside.”

Thanks to MagicPak, instead of 280 condensers on the rooftop, there’s a clear view of downtown with cabanas, a deck, and other gathering areas. Another key architectural goal was the ability to camouflage exterior louvers. “In this particular project we have five to six exterior skin conditions,” says Logan. “Being able to match those and have those disappear with the exterior was critical, and it was really easy to do with the MagicPak system.”


Schmalbach also reported that the tenants regularly speak highly of the system. Not only is MagicPak “extremely quiet and user-friendly,” they’re housed within each individual living unit, which protects the units from the elements and makes them easy to service. “With MagicPak, everything’s in front of me, I can easily access it all. And if the worst case, if I have to pull the whole unit out, it’s doable in a safe environment,” adds Schmalbach.


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