Plano ISD’s new arts center is a construction mess

Collin County schools just can’t have nice things.

Plano ISD’s new $67.5 million performing arts center was originally scheduled to be built by the end of 2019. It is still not open due to a dispute with the builder over ” significant cracks due to poor quality workmanship and/or design,” according to a district newspaper. Release.

Apparently, PISD didn’t learn from the embarrassing and costly construction mishaps of its neighbors. The neighboring school districts of Allen and McKinney have faced similar issues in recent years with new football stadiums. In Allen’s case, cracks as wide as three-quarters of an inch forced the district to temporarily shut down the $60 million facility, disrupting a football season and grabbing headlines for as far as it could go. Los Angeles. At McKinney’s $70 million stadium, it was determined that “excessive and unsightly” cracks were caused, in part, by too much water in the concrete mix.

You would think that builders, architects or school facilities departments would be particularly cautious after such high-profile gaffes. But apparently the third time isn’t the charm.

After PISD administrators approved the plan to file a lawsuit in February, the builder, McCarthy Building Cos., Inc., beat them to the punch. McCarthy sued in Collin County, seeking more than $11.45 million in damages.

McCarthy says there were too many change orders. Some of these change orders were to fix cracks in the floors.

McCarthy says there have been too many delays, including one that lasted 26 days due to weather conditions. “PISD is contractually liable for those 26 days of abnormal weather,” the lawsuit states.

Immunity for prosecutors is un-American and immoral

McCarthy says the design is to blame for the cracking. Last week, a company spokesperson, senior vice president Nathan Kowallis, emailed us to say the company raised concerns about the design as early as 2019.

“Significant design issues include the inability to accommodate concrete expansion or contraction,” Kowallis wrote.

On Thursday, PISD filed a counterclaim to the lawsuit that “seeks to hold McCarthy liable for manufacturing defects,” according to district spokeswoman Rosemary Gladden. The district also filed a third-party petition that “seeks to hold Perkins + Will and its structural engineering consultant, LA Fuess, liable for design defects that directly caused or contributed to installation-related issues. .and for the costs related to the corrective solutions.

Perkins + Will, the architect of the project, does not speak to reporters.

So now the public is left with a blame game in which each entity blames the others for their part and, apparently, for the weather. The narrative is as unsatisfying as the project itself.

We are not the only dissatisfied ones. The 82,200 square foot facility, which was approved in 2016 as part of the PISD’s $481 million bond referendum, includes a 1,502-seat auditorium, black box theater, dance studio, an outdoor performance lawn and an art exhibit hall, all of which are empty, unused by students.

Perhaps school districts investing tens of millions of dollars in complex construction projects should hire extra eyes, who don’t work for the contractor or architect, to oversee the work and avoid mistakes.

For the sake of the students, maybe someone should figure out how to build in Collin County.

William E. Bennett