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Contractor Sues Architects for Overruns

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

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A general contractor who worked on a multi-million dollar renovation of a city-owned auditorium in Charleston, SC, has accused three design firms and a project management company of negligence resulting in project delays and cost overruns.

Joint venture Skanska-Trident filed its lawsuit Jan. 8 against defendants David M. Schwarz Architects, Earl Swensson Associates, Evans & Schmidt Architects and The Projects Group, according to a Skanska spokeswoman.

Charleston’s The Post and Courier first reported the legal row.

© / Suphakit73

Skanska-Trident claims that the renovation of the Gaillard Center in Charleston, SC, experienced delays due to deficiencies in the project design.

In addition to negligence, the contractor is alleging negligence misrepresentation against the firms and project manager, the report noted. Skanska-Trident is also alleging breach of warranty of plans and specifications against the architecture firms in the case. The company is seeking a minimum of $20 million in damages for each of the three causes of action, the report related.

Court documents were not immediately available for review Monday (Jan. 18.).

About the Project

Skanska-Trident reportedly entered into a $110 million renovation contract with the City of Charleston in 2012.  The company served as the "construction manager at risk" for the Gaillard Municipal Auditorium renovation project.

According to a press release issued in July 2012, the venue was to be complete by December 2014. It was to include the addition of 1,800 seat multipurpose auditorium, a 38,800-square-foot exhibit hall and a new three-story, 80,000-square-foot municipal office building for city employees.  

The Gaillard Center opened in October 2015 at a cost of $142 million, reports say. A timelapse video of the construction project is available here.

1,440 Requests for Information

Skanska-Trident claims “the project experienced extensive delays due to a variety of circumstances beyond the control of Skanska-Trident, including deficiencies in the project design,” according to Pamela Monastra, a Skanska communications director.

Construction of Gaillard Center
screenshot via Ox Blue timelapse

Construction begin in August 2012 and was complete in October 2015.

Structural drawing and finish details were incomplete, The Post and Courier reported. The newspaper also noted that Skanska-Trident submitted 1,440 requests for information throughout the project.

The firms allegedly responded with 1,065 drawing sheet revisions; 37 architectural supplemental instructions; and 154 construction change directives in order to produce a design that could be constructed, the report noted.

‘No Choice’ Action

Skanska-Trident claims that it had “no choice” but to bring the action against the city’s design and project manager. The city was not named a defendant in the lawsuit.

In October 2015, Skanska-Trident said it submitted a “Request for Equitable Adjustment” to the City of Charleston, seeking a time extension and additional compensation for the extra costs that Skanska-Trident and its subcontractors incurred trying to overcome the alleged issues mentioned above. 

“Since then, Skanska-Trident has sought to work with the City and its design team to resolve this matter in an amicable manner, but to no avail,” Monastra said.

Further, Monastra added that the city had declined to engage in any settlement dialogue without the participation of its designers, who had not done so in a timely manner.

The contractor said it and its subcontractors, many of them local, should be “justly and timely compensated” for the “world-class facility” they have built for the people of Charleston.

Earl Swensson Associates did not wish to comment on the litigation. The other firms and project manager did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment on the matter.


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Contractors; Government contracts; Laws and litigation; Lawsuits; Maintenance + Renovation; North America; Public Buildings; Public spaces

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