World famous architect Frank Gehry, and his firm Gehry Partners is a defendant in a recent lawsuit brought by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology alleging design and construction defects in a $300 Million building on the Cambridge, Massachusetts campus. MIT also sued the contractors who built the building, alleging that design and construction defects caused leaking, cracking, and poor drainage, and that MIT will have to pay millions to fix the problems.
Gehry, when interviewed about the lawsuit, said that construction problems in complex buildings are inevitable, and “The chances of it getting done ever without something colliding or some misstep are small.” Gehry, like most architects surely believes that his design is fine, and that the builder made mistakes in execution.
The builder, a the New Jersey arm of a Swedish firm called Skanska AB, when asked for comment, stated “This is not a construction issue, has never been.” So, the builder believes, of course, that the design is faulty, and he did nothing wrong.
As is typical, both the architect and the builder also fault the owner, in this case MIT, for making changes during construction that they say led to problems. Gehry also commented that he thought that “value engineering” was also responsible for some of the problems.
It is disconcerting to see that a superstar architect, a global construction company and a world-class institute of higher learning, with $300 Million to spend cannot seem to create a water-tight building. Mr. Gehry seems to think that construction defects are par for the course. In that context, it comes as no surprise that we find problems with much simpler, mass-produced homes and condominiums.
You can read the New York Times article discussing the case here.