Westinghouse-leased building requires 'comprehensive' repairs

| Saturday, May 10, 2014, 12:06 a.m.

Water leaks and other environmental issues have plagued Westinghouse Electric Co.'s signature headquarters in Cranberry for years, the building's owner said on Friday, and the company is planning a permanent fix for the building's exterior.

“We're fully committed to restoring the building and making it fully functional to the satisfaction of the tenant,” said Nelson Mills, president and CEO of Columbia Property Trust of Atlanta. He added that the repair work to the 5-year-old building “could be fairly extensive,” but he could not estimate the cost of repairs.

“It's a comfort issue, not a safety issue,” Mills said.

The original contractor for the headquarters construction project, Turner Construction, did not return messages.

Though Mills said repair work is scheduled to begin this year, Westinghouse public relations manager Sheila Holt said that it's scheduled to begin next spring.

“We expect minimum disruption to our employees during the repair process,” Holt said.

Westinghouse signed a 15-year lease for the building. It relocated employees to the $200 million complex from Monroeville in 2009 and 2010. There are 3,300 employees in the headquarters, which has three interconnected buildings.

“It remains a highly safe work environment,” Holt said.

She said the repair time depends on the final scope of the work. A fourth nearby building, housing 450 employees, isn't affected, Holt said.

Problems with fabricated metal panels attached to the exterior of the building apparently are letting moisture into the building around windows, Mills said. There were issues in regulating the temperature in some areas of the building.

“It's not always an effective seal,” Mills said. “During major storms, there's leakage in some parts of the building.”

Crews “have had some success” with resealing some windows and panels, but problems persisted, Mills said. The company hired a consultant last year to examine the building. Its findings, Mills said, led the company to decide to move ahead with a “more comprehensive” fix. He did not provide specifics about the report but said that all parties, including the original contractor and Westinghouse, have been working together.

“We are moving along as quickly as possible on the fix,” Mills said. “We want to get it done right.”

Cranberry Manager Jerry Andree said the company hadn't filed any paperwork for building permits, which would have to list the cost and scope of the project.

Mills said there haven't been any lawsuits filed over the problems or potential repairs.

“The primary thing is that we want to find the problem,” Mills said. “There are no assertions of guilt and blame. We're working with all the parties to get this fixed.”

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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