Aspen sues architects of new ARC | AspenTimes.com
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Aspen sues architects of new ARC

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen is suing the architectural firm that designed the city’s new recreation center, claiming deficiencies in the plans resulted in cost overruns of more than $900,000.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in 9th Judicial District Court, which includes Pitkin County, charges Durrant Architects Inc. with breach of contract, deceptive trade practices, providing false and misleading information to the city and its general contractor, and misrepresenting the quality of its service.

The city is seeking damages in an amount to be determined if the case goes to trial.

“We would like to settle with them,” said Ed Sadler, assistant city manager. “Our lawyers are talking with their lawyers.”

The city is being represented by Faegre and Benson LLP, a Denver law firm.

Representatives of Durrant, which has offices in Denver, could not be reached for comment late Friday. The firm is part of The Durrant Group Inc., headquartered in Madison, Wis.

The Aspen Recreation Center is nearing completion at Iselin Park. The ARC is scheduled to host its first “soft openings” this month, during which various groups will try out the facility while staffers practice running the operation. The formal grand opening is expected in April, when the ice rink is ready to use.

The city contracted with Durrant to design the ARC in January 2000 and retained the option to hire the firm to provide construction management services, as well. The firm had offered construction administration – providing on-site management and making decisions when day-to-day problems arise – for what Durrant assured the city was a firm bid of $120,000, according to the lawsuit.

When the city sought to add construction management to the contract in early 2001, the price had jumped to $318,640 and Durrant was not awarded that job, Sadler said.

After Shaw Construction, the general contractor on the project, began work, problems with the plans and specifications provided by Durrant became apparent, causing delays and added costs, according to the suit. In some instances, the plans failed to comply with required building codes, the suit alleges.

“The plans were poorly coordinated between various design disciplines,” the suit claims. “The plans were incomplete and omitted construction details essential for the construction of the project.”

“Bottom line is, we think we suffered over $900,000 in additional costs,” Sadler said.

The conflicting designs sometimes meant a set of plans for one sub specialty – plumbing, for example – wouldn’t jibe with the plans provided for another subcontractor.

“We had to change walls that were already in because they didn’t work,” Sadler said.

Problems with the architectural designs forced Shaw to submit more than 210 requests for clarifications or information that was missing from the plans and specifications, according to the suit.

Durrant didn’t respond in a timely manner to many of the requests and refused to respond to some, according to the suit. The deficiencies in the plans, combined with Durrant’s failure to respond promptly to questions, delayed the completion of the ARC, the suit alleges.

The project is also over budget, though not by $900,000, due to cost savings in some areas, according to Sadler. Since all the bills for the project are not yet in, Sadler said he doesn’t know how much the construction cost will exceed what was budgeted.

Actual construction of the 82,460-square-foot building was budgeted at $17.6 million. The total cost of the project, including fees, furnishings and other expenditures, is estimated at $19.2 million.

The ARC contains two new swimming pools, a Jacuzzi, a steam room and sauna, an ice rink, locker rooms, a climbing wall, the new Aspen Youth Center, a snack bar and a two-bedroom housing unit for a Recreation Department staffer.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]


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