Take a look inside the Jade Signature construction site

Construction workers are using high-tech tools to build the 57-story tower

Dec.December 17, 2015 02:15 PM

Roughly two years after Suffolk Construction broke ground on Jade Signature, the luxe tower is well on its way to an expected completion date in early 2017.

The 57-story tower, developed by Fortune International Group, was designed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron. Its sharp angles and lean stance are taking shape now that the building has gone vertical.

Jade has risen 22 stories out of the ground, and Suffolk project executive Dan Finch said progress is going at about a floor per week.

The construction firm took The Real Deal on a tour through the tower’s lobby area, which looks out directly over the ocean, as well as one of the building’s first residential floors.

So far, much of the interior space is raw, though workers are starting to build-out the lower residential floors. On the fifth floor, for instance, some units already have their kitchen appliances in place as well as Spanish mosaic tiles in the bathrooms. Glass is also being installed, after each level is built.

Suffolk is using a tool belt of technological novelties like 3D mapping to help speed up construction, Finch said. One of the most tangible benefits comes from a piece of software that allows designers to create an extremely detailed one-to-one scale model of Jade Signature, complete with minutia like electrical lines, plumbing and air ducts.

Using the digitized model, Suffolk can work out all the trial-and-error of installing a window, for instance, without the real world consequences of getting glass reshaped or a window frame re-sized.

Suffolk purchased those tools from BuildingPoint, a tech distributor for Trimble that’s best known for its role in helping bring GPS to mainstream markets. To smooth out the growing pains of using such technology, BuildingPoint helps train those who buy its technology and also acts as a kind of construction advisory firm — though it’s technically not a consultant for Suffolk.

Arguably the project’s most impressive feature is its below-ground garage: Jade’s parking area is essentially a huge concrete box that was formed 60 feet below the street. To create it, workers first drilled about 2,000 holes and filled them with a mixture of concrete and water. Excavators then dug out huge portions, leaving behind a water-tight, hollow parking area.

The result is a condo building without a parking podium, meaning a passerby on the street could look directly through Jade Signature’s lobby to the ocean. Its public areas will look very similar to the Jade Signature sales office, Finch said, including the white marble tiles and sleek, open style.

Construction first on the site at 16901 Collins Avenue began in 2013. The tower will have 192 units when completed, priced between $3.9 million and $33 million for the penthouses. Developer Edgardo Defortuna said the project is now 92 percent sold.

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