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Manager of Gaillard overhaul sues firms

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Manager of Gaillard overhaul sues firms

Skanska-Trident, the company that managed the renovation and expansion of the Gaillard Center, is suing three architectural groups and a project-management company, blaming them for delays and driving up the cost.

The company that managed the renovation and expansion of the Gaillard Center is suing three architectural groups and a project-management company, blaming them for delays and driving up the project’s cost.

Skanska-Trident had a $110 million contract with the city of Charleston to build the center, which was supposed to be completed in April 2015 but came in six months late. The city and the company had a type of contract for the project known as a “construction manager at risk,” which sets a maximum price for the completion instead of simply going with the lowest bid.

In the suit filed Jan. 8 in circuit court, Skanska-Trident accused David M. Schwarz Architects, Earl Swensson Associates, Evans & Schmidt Architects and The Projects Group of negligence and negligent misrepresentation under restatement of torts. All but The Projects Group also are accused of breach of warranty of plans and specifications.

Skanska-Trident has demanded a jury trial, and has asked for a minimum of $20 million in damages for each of the three causes of action.

Phone calls requesting comment from the architectural firms and project management company were not returned.

Revamping the Gaillard was one of Mayor Joe Riley’s highest priorities during his final four years in office. The new center includes a state-of-the-art 1,800-seat concert hall, an exhibit hall and a wing for city offices

Skanska-Trident claims in the suit that the architectural firms submitted construction documents that were not final and did not reflect a design that could be constructed within the city’s budget.

The company also claims the Sept. 28, 2012, construction documents were so incomplete, especially in regard to structural drawings and finish details for the performance hall, that over a three-year period, David M. Schwarz Architects, Earl Swensson Associates and Evans & Schmidt Architects issued 1,065 drawing sheet revisions, 37 architectural supplemental instructions and 154 construction change directives to complete the design, according to the documents. They also completed the design via responses to 1,440 requests for information from Skanska-Trident.

Pamela Monastra, senior director of communications for Skanska USA, in a prepared statement said “the project experienced extensive delays due to a variety of circumstances beyond the control of Skanska-Trident, including deficiencies in the project design.”

Skanska-Trident in October submitted a request for equitable adjustment to the city, seeking a time extension and additional compensation for the extra costs that the company and its subcontractors incurred trying to overcome those issues, Monastra said.

Skanska-Trident tried to work with the city and the design team to resolve the issue in an amicable matter but was not successful, she said.

The city declined to engage in settlement discussions unless its designers also would participate in them, she said. But the designers refused to do that in a timely manner, so Skanska-Trident had no choice but to take legal action, Monastra said.

The suit didn’t detail how much it cost Skanska-Trident to complete the Gaillard project. Jack O’Toole, spokesman for the city, said construction costs for the Gaillard came to $116 million.

He also said the city is not named in the lawsuit, but city attorneys are watching it carefully. “If a claim is ever made against the city, we’ll vigorously defend it.”

Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.

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