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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 16, 2010 4:43 PM. The previous post in this blog was A jail by any other name is still a "detention facility". The next post in this blog is Next sports team to leave Portland: the Winterhawks. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Monday, August 16, 2010

This project is a flop -- literally

Have you been following the construction debacle in Salem, with transit and county offices being moved out of a dangerous 10-year-old building on the double, and a transit mall moved away, before the structure falls down? Yikes!

But hey, it was "a 'green' designated building using earth friendly construction materials." A great thing even if it does wind up being demolished.

Comments (15)

My friend and former roommate, who works for a major moving company based here in Portland, is making $45/hr moving their offices. Something about prevailing wage or something?

I can't wait until we have government run health care!

dman -

I guess I'm not following.

The building was designed by architects in private practice.

The engineering for structural strength was done by a firm in private practice.

The construction was all done by a general contractor and sub contractors in private practice.

Marion County and the Salem Transit District employees wrote checks.

I expect that you would be one of the most vociferous opponents of the County / Cherriots hiring a third party inspector for all phases of the job, and I know that you would be aghast at the governmental entities having an in house job, at competitive rates, for employees who were dedicated project management.

So, as far as I can see, the problems are with the performance by the architects, engineers, and contractors.

So why the government employee bashing?

It doesn't fit the facts.

Its "fun", but has no relation to reality

The faults, if any, are in the private sector.

Like with health insurance.

Nonny, jus wondering where the city building inspectors were during the entire construction period. nice rant.

Arbuckle Costic, a Salem firm, was the architect. LCG Pence, also a Salem firm, was the GC. The structural engineer, not a Salem firm. They all got sued but I think Pence and Costic tried to throw the most mud out the out of town guys. Go figure.

Localism dies hard. LCG Pence just won the bid to build the new West Side Middle School for Salem-Keizer SD - well after they'd been sued for this disaster. I'm sure it's going to be all LEED'd up, too. Hope they all focus on the fundamentals and not just the LEED points this time.

Another interesting article:

I found another contract from MC online. It looks like they've just awarded the same architect another five figure contract for a dog shelter on 8/16/10. It designates them as "the most qualified".

"Nonny, jus wondering where the city building inspectors were during the entire construction period. nice rant."

Well if the Salem building inspectors are like the Portland inspectors under Randy Leonard they were dropping trou and grabbing their ankles and saying "Anything else you want me to approve, sir."

Been there done that, now retired.

Is this the building that the contractors got a deal limiting their liability?
I think the county deserves as much blame for allowing that as the slackers who did the shoddy work.

"as far as I can see, the problems are with the performance by the architects, engineers, and contractors.

So why the government employee bashing?

Two things. One, it looks like the city building inspectors dropped their ball.

Two - and I love this part - apparently settlement talks over building defects were in progress for many months before the preliminary engineering report came out that led to all the tenants moving out. Just as the moving began, the county signed off on settlements with the architects and the construction firm, for a settlement of about 10% of the then-estimated repair price.

Maybe it's just me that thinks it would have been a good idea to hold off on that until after the engineering study was actually complete?

Thanks for the link, SKA. It appears the problem here is primarily with the structural design, not that the building was "shoddily built". And all the building inspectors do is make sure it is built according to the plans. Still, the design would normally have been checked during the permitting process. I don't know much about the size of Salem's permitting department, but in some smaller cities the plan checking work is contracted out to private engineers to check.

Cheeto, concerning the City of Salem plan review and building inspector process-"all the building inspectors do is make sure it is built according to plans."-Salem permitting process reviews all structural components of submitted plans. They charge a large chunk to do so. They do have in-house engineers and can sublet the engineering review.

But still the final responsibility is Salem's-the buck stops there. And they charged for it.

That may be why they settled for 10 cents on the dollar, or it might be like most governmental agencies-they just pay out no matter what, like Portland.

Lot's of blame to go around here. Probably not just the design. Was there sufficient rebar in the concrete? Was the concrete itself up to spec? While I love to heap abuse on LEEDs projects, I doubt this had anything to do with the structural defects.

Pdxjim -

"where were the building inspectors?"

Are you asserting that architects, engineers and contractors and subs can't be trusted to do competent and safe design and execution of a project unless the "cops" are there figuratively looking over their shoulders all during the process?

Same with the permitting process. Is the fellow describing the permitting process telling us that unless the permit "cops" are there checking all calculations, that the architects, engineers and contractors and subs can't be trusted to do competent and safe design?

That is the clear implication of those arguments.

If you folks want to seriously hold to or advance those arguments, I'd suggest that you are in effect saying that no one in private industry in the design, engineering, construction fields can be trusted to build a dog house.

Are you sure that is the argument
you want to make?

If as another poster says, the County and the Salem Transit District signed off on settlements before knowing the full scope of the defects and the costs to fix, if fixible, then I agree that the folks in the County and Cherriots who made those decisions need to be fired.

Like the folks at Portland BES who were engaged in the Multnomah Boulevard High Pressure Sewer silliness 10 years ago.

Now, now, Nonny, we doin't live in the times of the Romans where part of contract enforcement was to have the builders, et all stand under the arches when scaffolding was removed (or at least that was the story my contracts prof told us). In the age of entitlement, why would you assume there was accountability?

Nonny Mouse, I'm not arguing that a project's architects, engineers and contractors aren't liable. But why aren't the planners, architects and engineers in government employment that charge enormous fees to supposedly review plans, not also held accountable? That's the point.

Maybe we should do away with all government review and just let the project architects, engineers, and contractors assume all the liability and save everyone a ton of money. They seem to have all the liability anyway, since government escapes all or most of the liability anyway.

I've told this story before. In Portland a building permit was paid for a pitched roof over a flat roof home, it was inspected and fees once again paid. A few years later owners noticed odors, and mold in rooms below the newly created attic. On independent inspection of the attic area, mold was everywhere in the attic with a good percentage of the rafters and roof plywood dry rotted. Plumbing and bathroom vents were never extended to the outside above the roof. Yes, the contractor was at fault, but so was the City. They inspected it with records to prove such. Did the city assume any liability? No. The contractor was gone. Owner paid for all repairs.

This is an example of the argument. Why pay for something, building fees on through inspections, and not get something for it that extends to the liability factor?


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