GC Sues Building Designer for $5M Citing 'Errors & Omissions'

Originally published by: Construction DiveMarch 19, 2018

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Editor’s Note: The article below from Construction Dive summarizes a major lawsuit brought by a GC against the building designer due to “substantial errors and omissions” in their building plans. This litigation should be on the minds of component manufacturers as one of the parties in the building supply chain engaged in the building design process.  SBC Magazine will follow this case closely and report on any further developments.

Brief:

  • Clark Construction, the general contractor for the $2.5 billion mixed-use development, The Wharf, in Washington, DC, has filed a $5 million breach of contract lawsuit against architect Perkins Eastman alleging the design documents for the project's first phase contained substantial errors and omissions.
  • Clark's lawsuit states that the mistakes in Perkins' project design documents were related to structural columns; exterior retail doors; concrete beams; built-up slab; structural beams; terrace doors; stormwater cisterns; structural rebar; pier embeds; foundation piles; stairs, stair landings and loading docks; windows and curtainwalls; and acoustical design and isolation. In addition to the design issues, according to Bisnow, Clark alleges that Perkins engaged in professional negligence and negligent misrepresentation of the project.
  • Clark said Perkins presented The Wharf's design documents in such a manner that costly defects were not apparent until well into the construction process. The general contractor also said future design errors could arise as construction moves forward into the second phase.

Insight:

Design contracts are typically between the owner and architect, but, in this case, according to the lawsuit filing, Perkins had a contractual relationship with Clark. However, according to The AIA Trust, a contractor without a direct contract with an architect could still be successful in a negligence lawsuit if the contractor is completely dependent on the architect's design and drawings and is not able to take steps to prevent the consequences resulting from having used those project documents.

In some cases, a potentially injured party who has performed work on a construction project targets all the major stakeholders. In December, according to the Daily Business Review, steel subcontractor ADF International filed a $26 million lawsuit against Suffolk Construction, architect and engineer Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and All Aboard Florida claiming, among other things, that the construction plans for a downtown Miami Brightline rail station had errors and omissions, did not meet either the Florida Building Code or American Institute of Steel Construction’s Code of Standard Practice and were "conflicting and misleading."

While Perkins is the master planner and master architect of The Wharf, the design of the second phase — which should break ground in the coming months — will be steered by a team of 11 architects, according to Curbed DC. Each architect will be responsible for a particular aspect of the project with participants including ODA, which has designed a mixed-income apartment building, and SHoP Architects and WDG Architecture, both of which have designed office buildings.