April 19, 2017

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

Source:, 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:, 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.…

September 4, 2013

Dental School Facility Construction

Single prime design delivery system for construction of a new dental school facility associated with a University. University made claim against the architect alleging design errors relating to structural steel; Life Safety Code violations; non-insulated pipe failures;  failure to properly staff project; failure to perform contract administration duties; lost value engineering opportunities; and project delay. Total asserted value of the claim exceeded available design professional insurance.


September 4, 2013

School Building Construction

Multiple prime design delivery system for construction of new elementary and middle school buildings. The building foundations experienced cracking due to expansive soils beneath the slab-on-grade foundation design. School district conducted review and determined that the pre-design subsurface investigation by the geotechnical engineer was insufficient and should have discovered the expansive soils and recommended against slab-on-grade foundation. Remedial plan consisted of driving structural steel columns from foundation into bedrock 20 feet below grade. Claim by School District for inadequate geotechnical investigation and increased construction costs exceeded available design professional insurance.


September 4, 2013

University Ductwork Renovation

Single prime design delivery on the renovation of ductwork in a University building which houses both a geo-chemistry lab and student dormitory rooms. Exhaust hood fan speeds were insufficient to properly vent chemical fumes through auxiliary roof duct and instead, fumes entered general building ductwork and student dormitory area leading to health complaints from students. University claim against design team for lab shut down, re-work, alternate student housing, and indemnity for student claims exceeded available design professional insurance.…

September 4, 2013

Construction of School Gymnasium

Single prime design delivery system for the construction of a new school gymnasium facility and a classroom building at an existing elementary school. Due to an elevation error in the civil engineering plans, the new buildings were constructed 2 feet below the existing FEMA flood plain. Error was not discovered until after construction was completed. Remedial options included raising the buildings 2 feet or constructing a wall around the existing buildings to divert flood waters. The cost for either remedial plan exceeded available design professional insurance.


September 4, 2013

Elementary School Construction Project

Multiple prime delivery system plus construction manager at agency (no subcontracts) on a new elementary school construction project. School District alleged design and construction defects on project related to masonry walls and roof structure which led to water infiltration and mold. Alleged claim value exceeded available design professional insurance.


September 4, 2013

University Chemical Lab

Multiple prime delivery system on a University chemistry lab and science bldg renovation and addition. During the pre-design phase, University communicated chemical use and exhaust requirements for 2 cutting edge research professors. The HVAC ductwork designed by the MEP engineer does not contain stainless steel coating and smooth connection joints, which lead to premature corrosion and a combustion hazard due to build-up of chemicals at duct connections. Entire lab is shut down for almost 1 year to perform retrofit. University asserts a claim against design team for increased construction costs, delay, re-design costs, cost for renting alternate lab facilities and the lost productivity value of the 2 professors. Asserted value of claim (less betterment) exceeded available design professional insurance.