The Making of a Dream

American Dream has combined the best in global retail, designated dining, entertainment, technology, and hospitality. Slated to be the largest retail and entertainment complex on the east coast, American Dream, located at the Meadowlands in New Jersey (five miles from Times Square), will offer guests the thrill of the largest combination indoor DreamWorks Waterpark and Nickelodeon Universe theme park in the Western Hemisphere, along with the only indoor ski hill in North America. American Dream will also feature more than 450 stores, services, and amenities and over 100 dining destinations. A project of this magnitude necessitated the use of such innovative construction techniques as modular construction.

The average modular unit weighs 30
tons and spans 73 feet.

What started as a barren parking lot quickly turned
into a modular construction yard. 

The self-propelled modular transporter provided a
top-notch solution to the challenge of handling a
wide variety of modular weights and lengths.​

Construction of the sprawling amusement park and waterpark features 17,000 tons of structural steel, 6,700 tons of which form the essential steel support skeleton that was converted to 219 modular units. The modular units are made up of three-dimensional columns and trusses, inclusive of all mechanical piping and ductwork systems.  

What started as a barren parking lot quickly turned into a modular construction yard that would ultimately create a cost- and time-saving solution. The use of modular construction techniques combined with BIM 3-D modeling​ allowed the team to plan, fabricate, and assemble key structural elements of the project in a yard environment before transporting them to the worksite. With many of the erected components more than 100 feet in the air, completing most of this work at ground level in a controlled work environment greatly improved safety, quality, and production efficiency. 


American Dream’s project manager, David Campbell, was tasked with the challenge of taking the modular yard program from vision to reality. Before work could begin, Campbell and his team put an immense amount of consideration into every aspect of planning and scheduling necessary to make the modular program successful. The project team worked closely with subcontractors, architects, and engineers, ensuring that design details, production drawings, procurement, and infrastructure were in place to facilitate the delivery and assembly of each modular unit in the yard. Once the steel units arrived at the yard, a dedicated team of PCLers and subcontractors worked concurrently to ensure that all elements of each modular unit were properly installed, tested, finished, and protected before transporting them to the construction site for erection.

The average module weighs 30 tons and spans 73 feet, and the largest modules top out at 123 feet and 73 tons, so concrete jersey barriers and steel dunnage were carefully laid out in 32 assembly bays within the yard to support the units. Intricate and precise crane preparation and engineering were musts, as plans had to account for work done in the modular yard and the heavy lifts that would be necessary once the units were delivered to the construction site.


Each modular unit was assigned and tagged with a digital tracking symbol, or QR code. This enabled the project team to digitally and remotely track the status of all 219 units throughout the assembly and inspection process. Upon arrival, subcontractors would get to work connecting steel sections together, and attaching mechanical piping and ductwork before painting the necessary units. Once each unit was completed, it was inspected for quality and compliance. After verification, the unit was transported to the erection site by a self-propelled modular transporter, or SPMT. The SPMT is a multi-axle transporter that can maneuver through tight spaces around otherwise impossible turns and rotate to fit in the modular yard bays underneath the steel units. The SPMT provided the perfect, flexible solution to the matter of handling a wide variety of module weights and lengths in combination with traveling in multiple road and soil conditions between the yard and the erection site.

Converting the most critical structural steel elements of the amusement park and waterpark to 219 modular units, inclusive of all mechanical piping and ductwork systems, is a major success story at American Dream. Doing so improved safety, quality, and production while reducing overall cost and schedule time.​​​​​