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Pre-Fab High-Rise? 36 Years Ago, Little Tokyo Towers Went Up in 33 Days

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, July 06, 2011, at 07:53AM
Little Tokyo Towers e-jump [Flickr]

The 16-story, 301-unit Little Tokyo Towers was constructed in just 33 days using pre-fabricated modules built in Irwindale.

Prefab construction is a hot trend in modern building, with the already-built components often touted as a means toward environmentally friendly construction. It's no new concept, however: 36 years ago pre-fab construction rocketed the 16-story Little Tokyo Towers to its full height in only 33 days.

Groundbreaking for the $8.1-million, 301-unit building was held in early February, 1975. On May 21 the pre-fab modules began arriving, and on July 9, 1975, the tower was officially topped-out.

The modules were built in Irwindale by Forest City Dillon. Its parent firm, Forest City, is still a Downtown player, owning Metro 417 and the Met Lofts and having developed several other area projects.

Elements trucked in from Irwindale included "heart" modules that contained completed kitchens and bathrooms for each unit—down to details like towel bars and soap dishes—as well as concrete floor slabs, elevator modules and precast structural walls.

The building was built at a pace of approximately one floor every two days. Residents were able to start moving in before the end of the year, once painting and carpeting were completed.

The structure on 3rd between San Pedro and Central remains affordable housing for senior citizens.


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