CCAC contacted contractor 3 months before pipes burst
Community College of Allegheny County officials knew cold air was seeping into the $28 million K. Leroy Irvis Science Center more than three months before water pipes burst and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.
Preliminary estimates from a restoration contractor suggest damage to the North Side facility could top $350,000, said college spokeswoman Elizabeth Johnston. It opened last spring.
Community College of Allegheny County records obtained by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review show college officials were in contact with L.S. Brinker, the Detroit-based general contractor for the science center, about the problem on the fifth floor of the building as early as Sept. 19. CCAC closed on Dec. 21 for Christmas break. Officials returned on Jan. 2 to find pipes above a fifth-floor chemical storage area had burst, sending water streaming throughout the western end of the building.
Brinker senior project manager Richard McLaren previously declined to comment. Neither he nor Brinker President James J. Cole responded to requests for comment on Monday. Johnston said CCAC is withholding $180,000, the final payment on Brinker's contract, and CCAC notified the contractor in a certified letter that it intends to pursue damages.
Bill Clifford, who teaches construction law in Duquesne University's School of Law, said there can be questions about whether responsibility for such issues stem from the design or construction of a building.
“The more immediate issue is to define the problem and how to solve it. The owner should get an independent person to tell them what the problem is, whose fault it is and what it will take to fix it,” Clifford said.
CCAC correspondence suggests the problem, which college officials insisted the contractor remedy, was never resolved.
The school's Sept. 19 letter to the contractor claimed damage from outside air drifting into the building was mounting. The letter to McLaren and Cole said the building was not “weather tight,” and outside air was causing condensation to form and drip onto ceiling tiles on the fifth floor of the building.
Anthony L. DiTommaso, CCAC's vice president for compliance and legal services, wrote that the school had not yet determined repair costs, but insisted the problem “must be immediately addressed by Brinker.”
In an email to Cole and McLaren dated Dec. 19, DiTommaso again referenced the cold air leeching into the fifth floor.
“We understand that Brinker is denying responsibility for this condition,” he wrote, adding the school had hired an independent expert to evaluate the problem and determine the cause.
When the pipes burst, officials were forced to relocate classes while workers cleaned the labs, took down drywall and checked for mold.
“We hope to have students back in the labs by next week, but we're still assessing damages, evaluating the area and ordering small equipment that had to be replaced,” said CCAC Allegheny Campus President Donna Imhoff.
Johnston said the school will continue to monitor air quality every two weeks to ensure the building remains safe. It plans to refurbish damaged cabinets in the labs during spring break.
The science center includes labs and classrooms for programs in biology, chemistry and more.
Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- School credit ratings a problem for several in Western Pennsylvania
- Boy Scouts’ end to ban on gay leaders unnerves religious groups
- ‘Turf battle’ blamed in fights that canceled Carrick church festival
- Projects advance through Pittsburgh planning commission despite opposition
- Newsmaker: Megan Cicconi
- City, ex-manager of Pittsburgh police Office of Personnel and Finance reach settlement
- W.Va. authorities charge 87 with drug trafficking
- Rising East Liberty out of reach for Pittsburgh’s poor
- Remains of 4 early colonial leaders discovered at Jamestown
- Pittsburgh man jailed on theft, assault and drug charges
- Filing in Scaife case challenges subpoena request by his children