School district sues architects for overages on stadium design

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Jun. 4, 2008, 4:53pm

GALVESTON – A Houston-based architectural firm's design of a new athletic facility for a local school district reportedly incurred unforeseen expenses that constituted a contract violation, contends a lawsuit filed in Galveston County District Court on May 27.

Dickinson Independent School District accuses CRE8 Architects before the 122nd District Court of developing a design for Sam Vitanza Stadium unsuitable to DISD's budget parameters.

The school district and CRE8 Architects "executed a contract for architectural design in which Defendant agreed to design the Stadium in accordance with DISD's requirements," states the suit.

"Specifically, Defendant was to design the Stadium within budget parameters set by DISD. DISD's budget parameters were dictated by available funding from bond issues," according to the original petition.

The suit explains the school district stressed the importance of its financial capabilities to the defendant. About $10 million was in the construction budget; CRE8 Architects assured DISD that it would prepare an affordable design.

The Defendant apparently came up with a design for Sam Vitanza Stadium based upon a bermed stadium concept, which drew concern from its client.

"DISD was concerned that a bermed stadium design would significantly exceed DISD's budgetary constraints and accordingly, DISD's superintendent brought DISD's concerns to Defendant's attention," says the suit. "Defendant repeatedly assured DISD that its design would be bid out within DISD's budget range. DISD's superintendent informed Defendant that DISD would terminate Defendant's contract with DISD if the stadium bids did not come within budget."

CRE8 Architects eventually put its proposal out to bid, resulting in $6 million more than DISD can afford.

Consequently, the school district terminated its contract with the defendant and sought the services of another architectural firm.

The suit claims the project had to start over again, generating more costs.

"Moreover, between the time when DISD bid Defendant's design and the time when DISD's second design was bid, construction costs increased substantially and DISD was forced to bear additional expense resulting from the delay in the start of construction costs," it asserts. "Further, the fact that DISD had to go back to the drawing board resulted in a significant delay in time."

The new stadium eventually opened in September 2007, and the first commencement exercises will be held there on June 3, 2008.

Three counts of alleged wrongdoing are listed in the complaint.

DISD, with the help of attorney Richard Alan Morris, "seeks unliquidated and special damages" from CRE8 Architects. It has requested for a trial by jury.

On June 5, Dickinson High School is scheduled to hold its first graduation exercises in Sam Vitanza Stadium, which opened in September 2007.

The case has been assigned to Judge John Ellisor.

Case No. 08CV0547

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