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Innovation and Inspiration at IBS 2019

The 2019 versions of Show Village and The New American Home offer a compelling glimpse into housing’s future

If you’re making the trek to Las Vegas for the 2019 International Builders’ Show or are still on the fence about it, consider this: An exclusive chance to see a house, delivered by a standard pickup truck, that literally unfolds within a few hours into a 1,600-square-foot dried-in structure. 

Or how about an L-shaped, mid-century modern home, complete with a sloped single-form shed roof, that belies its core of six factory-built modules? Or maybe a pint-size but fully appointed granny flat (aka accessory dwelling unit or ADU) that sets a new bar for flexibility and affordability? 

And let’s not forget an 8,200-square-foot, single-level luxury home with trendsetting design moves, high-performance chops, and a panoramic view of the Las Vegas Valley.

If you go to the Show, take a break from the exhibits and seminars to get some fresh air (and some fresh perspective) with a few cool industry innovations just outside the door. 

Show Village 2019: Breakout Performances

We weren’t kidding about the folding house. Or the mid-century modern modular home. Even the granny flat has a compelling and relevant story for the industry. 

They’re all in the 2019 edition of the Professional Builder Show Village, a stone’s throw from the Las Vegas Convention Center’s main entrance.

Mid-Century Modular

Imagine you’re a general-contractor-turned-developer in Las Vegas looking to build a new home for your growing, multigenerational family. You like the mid-century look of long, staggered forms under a low-slope, single-form roof; an increasingly popular style among builders in Sin City. The only question is, who do you choose to build it? 

For GC-turned-developer Joe Crosland, the choice was … modular—in fact, a set of six modules from Mods PDX, a factory in Portland, Ore., nearly 1,000 miles away—to achieve his 3,640-square-foot dream home. “This is all about lifestyle, not modular housing,” he says. “It first has to come across as a well-designed mid-century home,” both inside and out, reflecting efficient use of space, an open-air feel, and a fluid indoor-outdoor connection.

Still, Crosland says he was worried that using modules would hinder that aesthetic. “Other modular homes often come off as cramped and dark,” he says. “The big thing for me was it had to be open.”

That challenge intrigued Kegan Flanderka and Drew Shreiner, partners and principals at Base Design + Architecture, also of Portland. “Modular does have some limitations, but we found ways to bend them a little to give Joe and his family what they envisioned,” Flanderka says. 

Show Village 2019 is open for free, self-guided tours during the International Builders’ Show, Feb. 19-21. No tickets are required, but you must be registered for IBS. 

The primary example: combining two modules to form the main public areas of the home—together a 1,400-plus square-foot space housing the kitchen, family room, and a dining area. 

The space also features a massive pantry with convenient (and logical) access from both the kitchen and garage. “It gets all that stuff and storage out of the living spaces,” says Crosland, helping achieve the clean, uncluttered look he wanted.

Flanderka and Shreiner also eschewed the long-held (and limiting) idea that all modules are created equal; each of the six units that make up Crosland’s home are of slightly different dimensions to accommodate desired spaces and uses, instead of the other way around.

The setup at Mods PDX enabled that decision, since the manufacturer operates outside of the modular mainstream. “It’s actually a stick-framing operation under [a] roof, not an assembly line,” says Flanderka, thus allowing more flexibility in design, dimension, and adaptability during production. “Builders need solutions that allow them to deliver housing based on individual needs, both in style and function,” Crosland says. “The standard 3-and-2 doesn’t suit everyone.” Says Shreiner: “We’re going for homes that people are enamored with and are reshaping the perceptions about modular’s cost and efficiencies.”

Each of the six modules that make up the main living areas are slightly different in their dimensions, enabled by the modular manufacturer’s stick-inspired production methods. (Plan: courtesy Base Design + Architecture)

A tenet of mid-century modern design is to raise the living space a few feet above grade, helping diminish the impact of the garage on the overall elevation. It’s an atypical move for a modular-built home, but in this instance it will afford the owners a generous basement area for a family room and a storage and utility area to further reduce clutter upstairs. (Rendering: courtesy Base Design + Architecture)

Future Unfolding

Las Vegas-based Boxabl is among a growing list of companies looking to change the world of housing production in the U.S.; an ambitious view of the future, for sure, but also one that provokes thought and deserves consideration.

The 1,600-square-foot prototype that Boxabl will unveil at Show Village 2019 is likely something you’ve never seen before: a completely finished and dried-in shell, including exterior cladding, that unfolds from a tight 8 ½-foot-wide by 12 ½-foot-tall by 40-foot-long package delivered on a flatbed trailer pulled by a pickup truck. 

In fact, Boxabl will unfold two roughly 20-by-40-foot “rooms” (its nomenclature for module) at Show Village: a public wing and a private wing of equal size but built out with different room arrangement—one for kitchen and dining and living spaces, the other for two bedrooms and a TV area. 

The two rooms will be set perpendicular to each other