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California Company Combines Wood Technology And Modular Construction

Silicon Valley design-build firm Katerra is using a technology-driven and full-services approach to creating prefabricated structures at a large scale. Based in Menlo Park, California, Katerra was started in 2015 by Michael Marks, Jim Davidson and Fritz H Wolff. Combined, the three men have decades of experience in the technology, manufacturing, real estate and private equity industries. In 2007, Marks served as the interim CEO at Tesla.

The design-build startup – which describes itself as a technology company – has about 60 architects on staff, along with 10 interior designers. The team is led by architect Craig Curtis, who formerly was a partner at The Miller Hull Partnership, a prominent Seattle firm.

Katerra’s overarching mission is to streamline the design and construction process while still providing good architecture. “Our goal is to remove unnecessary time and costs from the building process while also providing world-class design,” said the firm, which is one of the investors in Architizer’s online marketplace for architectural products.

Katerra believes it stands apart from other design-build firms because of its focus on utilizing technology and modular components to create large-scale multifamily, commercial and institutional projects. It also handles all steps of the building process, including site development, schematic design, fabrication of parts and onsite construction. “Through curating our own high-quality supply chain we can provide a fully coordinated design, much like what you would expect when buying a car,” the firm said. “By working within one fully integrated service model, clients no longer need to depend on multiple partners and vendors.”

The firm generally uses wood frame construction, with several upcoming projects featuring cross-laminated timber (CLT). “Katerra is aggressively pursuing CLT, with plans to help North America start using the material on scale with Europe,” the company stated.

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