University files $8.5 million lawsuit, in March, over Global Scholars Hall construction defects
Update 5/28: Hoffman Construction Company Executive Vice President Bart Eberwein was reached for comment this morning, although he could not comment directly on the lawsuit. “I can only say that we are trying to lean into the problem, hope to fix it, hope the students like the building and we want to be part of the solution when that’s figured out. We are not running away from this,” he said. More to come.
The University of Oregon filed a lawsuit against the designers and contractors who worked on the planning and construction of Global Scholars Hall. The suit, filed against two contractors and an architectural firm, claims the damages will exceed $8.5 million.
The hall’s residents were informed by email on March 13 from Vice President for Student Life Robin Holmes.
In the email, embedded below, Holmes said the building was inspected by two different “engineering experts” who determined it is safe.
Holmes also wrote, “We believe that concrete floors are deflecting beyond the normal limits and the deflection is causing substantial stress and/or cracking or a combination of both, of the floors, walls and ceilings.”
Those assertions are included in the lawsuit, which is embedded below as well. The university’s complaint alleges that the firms knew about those problems and had numerous opportunities to correct them.
The suit says, “Defects in the walls and ceilings and uneven floor surfaces…impacted the performance and functionality of the doors, windows, furniture and built-ins of the Building.”
Hoffman Construction, Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects and Catena Consulting are the firms named in the suit. Hoffman and ZGF have worked on many projects on campus including the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex and the Jaqua Center.
In the GSH suit, the UO alleges that all three companies “failed to uphold their promise” of building an easily maintainable and aesthetically pleasing residence hall.
Catena is the only firm that supplied a legal answer to the UO’s suit. The company’s statement affirms the university’s claims that GSH was constructed improperly, but “denies the issues are related to its work.” At times, Catena blames Hoffman, saying, “The floor deflection was caused by Hoffman’s improper construction means and methods.”
University officials say that the building is safe — it’s just that the defects impact its aesthetic and that it’ll cost more to maintain GSH in the long run.
A request for inspection reports related to the GSH foundation was denied by UO’s public records office.
Jacob McKay, the Hoffman superintendent listed as the construction contact on GSH building permits, was reached by phone but declined to comment.
The UO’s vice president of campus planning and real estate, Christopher Ramsey, also declined to comment because of the pending litigation.
Lee Kerns, a ZGF associate listed on city permits as the project’s design contact, could not be reached for comment.
Legal representatives for the university and the firms named in the suit are set to appear in court on July 8 in Salem, Oregon.
The only record of a complaint filed against GSH, which sits at 1710 E. 15th Ave., was on Sept. 12, 2013. Which was because of an expired building permit. The permit was renewed the next month, according to city records.
Robin Holmes’ original email, sent March 13th:
The university’s lawsuit, filed March 13th :
Catena’s answer, filed April 15th:
Eder Campuzano contributed to this report.