Texas college sues architect, engineer over design of performing arts center

By Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau | Feb 1, 2010

First State Bank Center for the Performing Arts, North Texas Central College, Gainesville

SHERMAN -- A Texas junior college is suing an architect, mechanical engineers, structural engineers and roofing contractors for the poor design of its $ 5 million performing arts center, which was completed in March 2005.

North Central Texas College filed suit against Crandall Design Group, Frederick Crandall, Cuthbertson Mechanical Engineers, ZZ Consulting PA and Progressive Roofing Inc. on Jan. 26 in the Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

The lawsuit alleges that because of poor design and lack of adequate specifications and details in the plans, the building suffers from a variety of problems including water accumulation, excessive humidity and roof problems.

NCTC decided to build a state-of-the-art performing center in 2002. By early 2003, the college hired Arizona resident Frederick Crandall as the architect to design its performing arts center at the Gainesville campus.

According to the lawsuit, Crandall represented himself as a "specialist in the architectural design, planning and feasibility studies of monolithic dome buildings," and relies on consultants or subcontractors to furnish specialized mechanical, electrical, civil and structural engineering.

NCTC agreed to let Crandall and his "architect/engineer team" design and build the center using Crandall's monolithic dome-based design. The two-year construction of the building was completed in 2005 at a cost of more than $5 million.

According to the plaintiff, within a year the building was showing signs of "substandard design services."

The lawsuit states, "water began to gather, and pond underground beneath the theater's orchestra pit; water began seeping through concrete, dry wall and baseboards; mold began growing on interior walls due to excessive moisture/humidity; and the roof began leaking."

The college believes the defendants failed to address issues that include the soil around the building, management of storm water, specifications for roofing system, water barrier and detailing of drainage systems in the exterior walls, and the coordination among the various disciplines involved in the project.

Specifically, the plaintiff accuses Crandall and ZZ Consulting of improper drainage and foundation design.

The college states that it has spent and continues to spend significant amounts of money to fix the orchestra problem by removing standing water, waterproofing the pit and rerouting the drainage system. However, water continues to drain through the base of the exterior wall and into the interior of the building. NCTC states this is also due to the defendant's design and it has spent more money to create a properly designed wall barrier system with proper drainage.

Due to the poorly designed roof, NCTC has repaired and replaced carpet, floors and walls. The water problems have also damaged wood doors, four pianos and four saxophones and are causing issues with the HVAC system.

NCTC alleges the Defendants are liable for breach of contract and breach of express warranties by not providing a performing arts center that was free from design defects.

The junior college states that its damages currently exceed $500,000 and are expected to exceed $2 million.

The college is seeking exemplary damages by arguing the actions of the defendants constitute professional and gross negligence.

Jury trial requested.

The college is represented by McKinney attorneys Charles J. Crawford and Ross Wells of Abernathy, Roeder, Boyd, and Joplin, P.C.

North Central Texas College is the oldest public two-year college in the state of Texas and currently has three campuses located in Bowie, Gainesville and Corinth. As a public junior college, NCTC is a political subdivision of the state of Texas.

U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider is assigned to the litigation.

Case No 4:10cv00037

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