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Colorado Christian University's 100,000-square-foot Yetter Hall was completed within 11 months using Prescient's patented system. —Image courtesy of Prescient Co. Inc.

Can Faster, Greener Buildings Ease Denver’s Housing Woes?

A Colorado company delivers a better way to build.

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With Colorado’s population growth rate currently twice the national average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, housing is an issue that’s here to stay. But one Colorado-based company is offering a solution. Prescient Co. Inc. developed a manufacturing system that dramatically decreases construction time, produces almost zero construction-site waste, and ultimately cuts costs. As Prescient prepares to triple its capacity in December, we break down the technology for you.

What is it?

Prescient’s combination software and building system relies primarily on recycled steel and a proprietary, integrated system of design, manufacturing, and installation. It’s trademarked with seven patents across 30 countries.

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“We are impacting risk, time, and money,” says Satyen Patel, Prescient’s executive chairman and CEO. “We are a technology platform with a digital thread that goes all the way from software design to manufacturing to the build site.”

How does it work?

Prescient buildings are essentially created in manufacturing warehouses and simply delivered to job sites, where they are assembled. “We deliver a post, a panel, and a whole bunch of bolts,” says Patel. “The system goes in place like Legos.”

Scrap visions of construction workers measuring and cutting and architects adjusting plans and making risky game-time decisions on the job site. This system begins with proprietary software that integrates with standard AutoCAD-designed projects. Once the building is designed, those plans go straight to the manufacturing site, where robotic tools build all the steel beam pieces to order from recycled steel. On the job site, the digital system has each piece labeled with instructions on where it fits into the plans.

The system is safer than timber, explains Patel, in terms of fire risk and seismic activity. Plus, the buildings can count more stories at a lower cost than timber buildings or traditional concrete. Increased safety at lower prices has made Prescient a popular choice for colleges, senior living communities, and hotels.

“We are striking a chord in an industry where the time value of money is huge,” he says. “Time is very important to every developer.”

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Who’s using it?

Currently, Hyatt is using the system for its new hotel property, Hyatt House at Belmar, and Colorado Christian University’s newest residential housing was built in record time using the system. The college was in a rush to get the dorm built in time for fall enrollment. “The Prescient system worked well for Colorado Christian University’s Yetter Hall, as it allowed for a quality structure in an expedited manner,” says Scott Miller, senior project manager of GE Johnson Construction Company. “This was critical to the university, as the 100,000-square-foot, 300-bed project had to be completed within 11 months.”

What’s next?

Thanks to growing demand, Prescient has aggressive expansion plans and will open a new 120,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Arvada in December. Currently counting 175 Denver employees and 40 in Poland, the manufacturing plant will triple Prescient’s capacity. As of today, the company has a 4.3-million-square-foot backlog of buildings that will land in eight different states.

“It was serendipity that brought us to Denver, as the founders were originally based here,” says Patel of the privately held company. “It’s turned out to be a fortuitous market where we’ve seen incredible growth in the last three years.”

(Read more: Denver’s Growth Must Be Addressed From All Angles)

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