Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Architect Frank Gehry sued by MIT

Photo This is a south side view of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Stata Center in Cambridge, Mass.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is suing renowned architect Frank Gehry, alleging there are serious design flaws in the Stata Center, a building celebrated for its unconventional walls and radical angles.

The school alleges the center, completed in spring 2004, has persistent leaks, drainage problems and mold growing on its brick exterior. It says accumulations of snow and ice have fallen dangerously from window boxes and other areas of its roofs, blocking emergency exits and causing damage.

The suit says MIT paid Los Angeles-based Gehry Partners $15 million to design the Stata Center, which cost $300 million to build. It houses labs, offices, classrooms and meeting rooms.

"Gehry breached its duties by providing deficient design services and drawings," according to the suit, which also names New Jersey-based Beacon Skanska Construction Co., now known as Skanska USA Building Inc. The suit, filed Oct. 31, seeks unspecified damages.

Gehry Partners did not immediately respond to a call from The Associated Press seeking comment Tuesday, and did not respond to calls and e-mails Monday from The Boston Globe. A spokesman for MIT declined to comment because of the pending lawsuit.

An executive at Skanska's Boston office said Gehry ignored warnings from Skanska and a consulting company before construction that there were flaws in the design. "This is not a construction issue, never has been," said Paul Hewins, executive vice president and area general manager of Skanska USA.

Gehry's work includes the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.