Sunday, July 14, 2024

LIFTbuild: Transforming Construction with Innovative Technology

The construction industry has seen some big changes over time, but the basic idea of building from the ground up has mostly stayed the same. However, there’s some exciting news for the construction world – LIFTbuild, a company under Barton Malow, has brought in a revolutionary technology that could change how we make buildings. Working with Ghafari Associates, they used this tech to build the Exchange building, a 16-story mixed-use structure in Detroit. It’s not just the design that’s impressive; it’s the cool construction technology they used.


Here’s the cool part: instead of the usual way of building from the ground, they did it from the top down. The Exchange building is like a test run for LIFTbuild’s technology. They have this thing that turns a construction site into a sort of factory. It uses a special method to put the building together vertically. First, they make the roof and floor at ground level, then add the outer walls and other stuff. After that, they lift the whole finished floor into place. While this is happening, they’re still building the floors below in a controlled environment.

The Exchange building is the first time they tried this method for a tall building. It has 153 rental units, 12 condos, offices, and retail space. The folks at LIFTbuild say this new way of building is safer, makes better quality buildings, and is more efficient. They started renting out apartments in 2021, and the whole building should be done by 2023.


Steve Houston, the senior director at LIFTbuild, said they took tasks that usually happen one after the other and found a way to do them at the same time. They worked closely with local contractors and subcontractors from the beginning to help everyone get used to this new way of doing things.

Now, let’s get into how this LIFTbuild technology works. They’ve been working on it for four years and got 15 patents for it. Launched in 2017, it aims to tackle problems in the American construction industry, like keeping workers safe and finishing projects on time. The technology works like a big factory, kind of like those old ideas for skyscrapers in the 1900s.


Here’s how it works in the Exchange Project:

  1. Building Stuff on the Ground: First, they put together the whole roof and floor on the ground. This helps keep the core parts of the building well-made.
  2. Adding Prefab Parts: They put in prefabricated parts before lifting the finished floor into place. This makes the construction faster and more accurate.
  3. Core Support System: The building has two concrete supports shaped like spines in the middle. These support the floors, lift them up, and also have elevators and stairs inside.
  4. No Columns Design: They designed it without columns blocking the windows. This gives more open space inside and makes things easier for the construction workers.

Now, let’s talk about what makes the Exchange Project special:

  • Top-Down Approach: Building from the top down is different and more efficient. Each floor needed a lot of steel and concrete, and they lifted them up at a good speed.
  • Special Rigging System: They used a special steel-frame rigging system to connect the floors to the lifting equipment.
  • Safety and Construction: The design made it safe to start building a new floor beneath a higher one. After lifting, the first two floors were built traditionally.
  • Parallel Work: Instead of doing things one after the other, they did a lot of things at the same time. This made the whole process quicker.
  • Prefab and Standardization: Everything was measured and tagged before assembling, making things faster and more consistent.
  • Rapid Construction: The technology helped finish the Exchange building way faster than usual, starting in April and finishing by June.
  • Vertical Expansion: This method can be used for really tall buildings, helping to address housing shortages.
  • Cost Savings: Building this way was 10% to 20% cheaper compared to the regular way, which is great for places with expensive land.

As the Exchange project gets close to being done, LIFTbuild is getting ready to use this technology in more projects in the Midwest. Here are a few examples:

  • Convention Center Hotel, Raleigh, North Carolina: They want to build a hotel near the Convention Center using this tech.
  • Lafayette West, Detroit, Michigan: They plan to use LIFTbuild for a high-rise building with homes and businesses.
  • Ambulatory Care Facility, Eastern Virginia: This healthcare place uses open space design to create flexible interior spaces.
  • Office and Research Facility, Bangalore, India: A 10-story building with offices and research spaces, built efficiently with LIFTbuild.
  • St. Antoine Development, Detroit, Michigan: Renovating a historic center and making new mid-rise towers with LIFTbuild’s system.


LIFTbuild’s technology is changing how we build things, making it safer and faster. If it keeps delivering on its promises of saving money and being efficient, it could really shake things up in the construction world, not just in the U.S. but worldwide.

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