Education

June 8, 2017

The New York disaster that never happened: How one phone call from an architecture STUDENT saved the 915ft Citigroup skyscraper from crashing onto Manhattan during a hurricane

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk, April 21, 2014
By: James Nye

  • New York City authorities and 2,500 Red Cross members prepared for the Citigroup Center to come crashing down on Manhattan in the summer of 1978
  • A catastrophic design flaw was uncovered when an architecture student phoned the building’s chief engineer
  • He discovered that the building could not withstand high winds
  • Hurricane Ella began to form off the East Coast in August 1978 – launching authorities into action
  • Disaster planners believed that 18 blocks of Midtown would be destroyed if the building came down
  • Contingency plans were made in secret and the story was not made public for nearly 20-years

With its distinctive 45-degree diagonal crown the Citigroup Center is one of Manhattan’s most prominent skyscrapers.

But nearly 40 years ago, as a hurricane threatened the Eastern Seaboard, New York’s Office of Emergency Management was hurriedly planning a mass evacuation of Midtown in case the tower collapsed – decimating 18 blocks of Midtown like dominoes all the way to Central Park.

Thankfully, that plan was never put into action, and the story of how just one phone call from an architecture undergraduate set off the chain of events that saved New York City from certain disaster went untold for almost 20-years.

When it was topped-out in 1977, the 59-story, $195 million skyscraper on Lexington Avenue was the seventh-tallest building in the world.

In fact, the most distinctive part of its construction are its four massive, 114-foot-tall stilts that are located in the center of the building, rather than its corners.…

May 18, 2017

Appeals court finds C.B. Engineering responsible in dispute over condemned Lake St. Louis home

Source: http://stlrecord.com/, May 17, 2017
By: Sam Knef

A dispute between a homebuilder and engineering firm over who was to blame for a newly constructed home being condemned shortly after the owners moved in has been decided by the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District.

In a decision handed down May 9, the appeals panel upheld a St. Charles County Circuit jury verdict holding C.B. Engineering Inc. of Union responsible for the condition of the Lake St. Louis home at 115 Place de Yeager because it failed to test the compaction rate of at least one layer of fill below grade upon which the home’s foundation was laid. The $615,000 home slid down the rear slope of the property, according to court documents.

The engineering firm faced cross-claims brought by Beris Construction LLC of Wentzville, which discovered in litigation brought by homeowners Carl and Jessica Eisenmann that, even though C.B. Engineering provided a certification letter to the city’s building department indicating testing was completed and ensuring the bearing capacity of the subgrade, it actually did not test or observe a layer of soil between 6 feet and 7 feet below grade.

According to the ruling, the certification letter stated that “the materials placed under observation met or exceeded the minimum compaction requirements and are suitable for support of the residential construction.”

Three months before the Eisenmanns were to close on the house, they had noticed cracking and leaking in the basement. As a result, the builder had a retaining wall installed, the ruling states.

The ruling also says that the engineer who was consulted for the retaining wall had not been aware of any problems related to slope failure when he was asked to design and install it, and he therefore did not perform any additional soil stability or global stability analysis of the area.…

April 28, 2017

Insurer alleges improper installation of sprinkler system in lawsuit over fire that destroyed Pa. building

Source: http://www.securityinfowatch.com, April 26, 2017
By: Keith Gushard

A $5.2 million civil lawsuit has been filed in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas in connection with a fire that gutted the Titusville Towne Square building more than two years ago.

The 17-count lawsuit has been filed by Erie Insurance Exchange, as it was the insurance agent for Titusville Redevelopment Authority, and Melissa Bergman, a tenant of the Towne Square. Erie Insurance is suing architects, contractors and the owner of an adjoining building claiming negligence. No trial date has been set in county court.

The suit claims negligence and breach of contract by architects and contractors in the design and installation of an automatic fire sprinkler system on the fourth floor of the Towne Square building. The owner of an adjoining building is being sued for both negligent security of her building and general negligence for letting a March 17, 2015, fire spread from her building to the Towne Square building. The suit alleges the March 17, 2015, fire at the adjoining building rekindled and set the Towne Square Building on fire March 18, 2015.

According to the suit, Erie Insurance has paid out $5,246,662.15 in insurance claims so far and wants to recoup that money plus interest, attorneys’ fees and any other costs the court “deems just and proper.”…

April 19, 2017

Roof issues delay opening of $1.5B Mercedes-Benz Stadium — again

Source: http://www.constructiondive.com, April 19, 2017
By: Kim Slowey

Dive Brief:

  • Mercedes-Benz Stadium officials have announced that issues with the retractable roof will delay the $1.5 billion venue’s opening for a third time, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Atlanta Falcons officials said the new opening date has been pushed from July 30 to August 26, when the NFL team’s first preseason game is scheduled. A spokesman said the roof’s steel work is taking longer than anticipated, and extra time is required to adjust the signature design so that the interlocking “petals” fit with each other.
  • The roof has been the source of all the announced project delays thus far. This latest postponement means that Atlanta United, scheduled to begin playing at the stadium in July, will play elsewhere until the facility is open.

Dive Insight:

It was just a few weeks ago that stadium officials floated the possibility of a change to the July 30 opening date amid rumors that the roof was not going to be complete. This latest delay pushes the opening almost five months behind schedule.

However, even the August 26 opening date doesn’t appear to be 100% firm, as team officials said the demolition of the Falcons’ former home, the Georgia Dome, has been put on hold as “an insurance policy” in case the team has to start out the season there. The Georgia Dome field has already been removed, as well as other equipment that would have to be returned so that the Falcons could play there, according to USA Today.

The roof design, while troublesome up to this point, is the focal point of the project. It is designed to open and close like the aperture of a camera lens, necessitating precision in design and installation. The steel delivery was also a challenge. Team officials said the manufacturing of roof material had to be coordinated between 32 factories in the U.S. and Canada.

When complete, the venue will be the first LEED Platinum–certified stadium and the first sports facility to earn all of the U.S. Green building Council’s available water credits. The project also received recognition from the White House last year when the Office of Science and Technology Policy used the stadium — which will have solar-powered electric-vehicle charging stations and solar panels — as an example of sustainability.…

April 19, 2017

Serious design, construction and maintenance defects doomed Oroville Dam, report says

Source: http://www.latimes.com, April 17, 2017
By: Ralph Vartabedian

Design flaws, construction shortcomings and maintenance errors caused the Oroville Dam spillway to break apart in February, according to an independent analysis by Robert Bea for the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management at UC Berkeley.

Bea, a co-founder of the center and retired civil engineering professor, found that in the 1960s, when the dam was being planned, designers did not call for a thick enough concrete spillway floor. Nor did they require the continuous steel reinforcement needed to keep its slabs intact during decades of service.

The design also did not require strong enough anchors into the underlying mountainside to resist movements downhill and from side to side.

The analysis is the first major assessment of what caused the massive damage that forced the evacuation of nearby Oroville and left the state with a repair bill likely to reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

It also sends a warning that the state’s aging fleet of dams may contain unknown defects that would threaten public safety in future wet years.

California Department of Water Resources spokeswoman Erin Mellon said the agency has not seen Bea’s analysis.…

April 18, 2017

Developer McKafka sues architect, alleging construction delays and defects at the Crimson

Source: https://therealdeal.com, April 17, 2017
By: Francisco Alvarado

An Aventura-based architecture firm allegedly left McKafka Development Group hanging, delaying construction on its 90-unit high-rise called the Crimson in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood, according to a lawsuit.

McKafka, through its limited liability company Alpine Estates, accuses International Design Engineering and Architecture, or I.D.E.A. for short, of breaching its contract and negligence, in the lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court last month.

Stephane L’ecuyer, I.D.E.A.’s principal, did not return two phone messages seeking comment. McKafka principal Stephan Gietl also did not respond to The Real Deal, but his lawyer Bruce King said, “We had several discussions to get a resolution and have been unable to do so.” He declined further comment.

According to the lawsuit, McKafka hired I.D.E.A. on Feb. 8, 2013 as the architect of record and Facchina Construction of Florida as the general contractor for the Crimson. However, the architecture firm performed poorly, the lawsuit alleges. The Crimson, at 601 Northeast 27th Street, remains unfinished today.

“I.D.E.A. failed to timely coordinate with or respond to Facchina, prepared incomplete or inconsistent drawings and specifications, and failed to perform in a manner consistent with the design schedule,” the lawsuit states.

McKafka alleges that I.D.E.A. also failed to timely respond to requests for information, change order requests, or provide staff to ensure continuity of service. In addition, according to the suit, I.D.E.A. improperly designed the garage ramps that led to substantial structural changes. The company also improperly designed the temperature control system, resulting in high humidity in the condo units, the lawsuit alleges.

Other significant revisions at the Crimson included the relocation of piles and beams and the redesigning of the height of the building’s stairs and the size of an emergency generator room, McKafka alleges. As a result of the repairs and revisions, the project was delayed and Facchina charged the developer for the delays, as well as additional construction costs, according to the suit.…

March 2, 2017

Edgewater condo owners sue engineering firm for $1M in damages

Source: https://therealdeal.com, March 1, 2017
By: Francisco Alvarado

Property at 2121 N. Bayshore Drive was affected by leaky HVAC, residents say

The condominium board at an older building in Edgewater is suing the engineering firm that designed the HVAC system at the property, alleging that the system caused extensive damage to the building.

In a Jan. 26 lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, Biscayne 21 Condominum Inc., which represents the 192 unit owners of the mid-rise tower at 2121 North Bayshore Drive in Edgewater, is suing Fort Lauderdale-based Hillman Engineering. Biscayne 21 alleges that Hillman was professionally negligent and breached its contract by designing a leaky system that caused damage to the building’s interiors.

The condo board is seeking more than $1 million in damages, plus attorneys’ fees. Representatives for Hillman declined to comment, and Harry Malka, the attorney for Biscayne 21, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

According to the lawsuit, Biscayne 21 determined near the end of  2010 that the HVAC system needed to be upgraded and repaired. On Feb. 15, 2011, Biscayne 21 hired Hillman to determine the extent of the repairs to the existing equipment, design a revamped HVAC system approved by the association, and oversee the installation of the new system and repairs.

“Shortly after the conclusion of the project, the new HVAC system began to experience many leaks in the new insulation,” the lawsuit states, “causing damage to drywall and flooring throughout the hallways and corridors of the property.”

Biscayne 21 hired Bosch Group, a construction consulting firm, to inspect the work performed by Hillman. On Nov. 12, 2015, Bosch issued a report documenting “numerous design and construction administration errors and omissions” by Hillman, the lawsuit states.

Biscayne 21 was built in 1964. Prices of available units start at $279,000, according to Realtor.com.…

January 16, 2017

UO to be paid $6.9 million in settlement for cracked dorm floors

Read here about a nearly $7 million settlement that has been reached between the University of Oregon and the architect/engineer that built a dorm.…

December 20, 2016

Ballou Senior High School architects sued over design documents

Source: http://www.bizjournals.com, December 19, 2016
By: Daniel J. Sernovitz

The team behind the $124 million Ballou Senior High School modernization is seeking at least $2 million in damages from the project’s architects over claims they delivered incomplete design plans for the Southeast D.C. building.

Chiaramonte-Hess, a joint venture between Chiaramonte Construction Co. and Hess Construction & Engineering Services Inc., said it based its guaranteed maximum price on design documents for the D.C. public school building. But it claims those design documents were “incomplete, uncoordinated and not ready for construction,” despite representations to the contrary from the project’s architects, according to a lawsuit Chiaramonte-Hess filed Nov. 18 in D.C. Superior Court.

Chiaramonte-Hess sued the architects, a joint venture between Bowie Gridley Architects and Perkins & Will, for breach of contract and for indemnification. It is seeking in excess of $2 million, saying in the suit it was forced to spend more money than expected to make up for lost time due to the incomplete designs.

Representatives for Perkins & Will did not respond to questions as of press time. Bowie Gridley Principal Cal Bowie declined to comment. Bowie is married to Alex Orfinger, an executive vice president for American City Business Journals, parent company for the Washington Business Journal.

The lawsuit comes nearly two years after students returned from winter break, not to the 54-year-old brick public school building, but to a newly developed, 356,000-square-foot facility built beside it at 3401 Fourth St. SE. The project was one in a raft of top initiatives outlined in 2011 by former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, who called for rebuilding the school with a substantial automotive and technical skills program.

The D.C. Department of General Services retained Bowie Gridley and Perkins & Will in 2012 to provide design and construction administration services for the project, according to the lawsuit. The architects were to be paid up to $4.5 million in total basic compensation, the suit said. DGS retained Chiaramonte-Hess to develop the project in 2013, and the developer joint venture broke ground in March 2013.

After Chiaramonte-Hess completed its guaranteed maximum price, or GMT, the architects submitted completed and corrected design documents that called for significant changes to the project’s scope, according to the lawsuit. Chiaramonte-Hess said it was forced to take on additional costs for overtime to complete the project on time.…

November 9, 2016

HCC seeks damages from architect, construction company

Source: http://www.smokymountainnews.com, November 9, 2016
By: Cory Vaillancourt

Haywood Community College’s new Creative Arts Building was supposed to be a state-of-the-art, energy-efficient, environmentally friendly facility.

Instead, according to allegations made in a complex, far-ranging lawsuit filed by HCC Oct. 28, it’s leaky, creaky and becoming a multi-million dollar boondoggle.

Voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax in 2008 intended to fund improvements at HCC; in 2010 Raleigh-based architectural firm Innovative Design was named as architect for the project in part because of company president Mike Nicklas’ reputation as a proponent of sustainable design — something the community college’s then-president Rose Johnson also supported.

Construction began in spring 2011 after concerns over the project’s $8.3 million price tag were allayed. Haywood County Commissioners voted 4-1 to pursue an expensive LEED certification for the building that was supposed to pay for itself in energy savings, with Commissioner Kevin Ensley the lone objector.

The project wound up being over budget and past deadline, but opened in January 2014. Problems then began appearing almost immediately.

According to the lawsuit, the building’s flooring is coming apart, water reuse systems don’t work, lights rapidly burn out, electronic sensors fail and the foundation of the building itself is cracked.

HCC’s lawsuit blames Ohio-based general contractor Miles McClellan Construction Company, Carolina Floor System Inc., Minn.-based Maxxon Corporation and its subsidiary Maxxon Southeast Inc., as well as Innovative Designs and its president Mike Nicklas.

The suit also targets project insurers Travelers and Contractors Bonding and Insurance Company.

The bulk of the allegations, however, seem to concern Miles McClellan Construction. HCC makes six claims for relief as to Miles in the lawsuit, alleging among other things that the contractor breached its contract with HCC by failing to construct a defect-free building, failed to adequately supervise subcontractors and did not honor expressed warranties but instead devised a “scheme” with two other defendants — Carolina Floor System and Maxxon — to downplay problems so they’d still get paid for the job.

As of press time, Niklas hadn’t returned calls seeking comment. President of HCC Dr. Barbara Parker referred all questions to HCC attorney Pat Smathers, who was unavailable for comment.