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Repairs needed to prevent moisture seepage in Westinghouse's Cranberry headquarters

| Saturday, May 17, 2014, 7:09 p.m.

Cranberry's top code enforcement officer said the township inspected Westinghouse Electric Co.'s headquarters before the company moved in five years ago but found nothing to indicate that a problem might develop with air and moisture seepage.

The exterior of the sprawling Westinghouse headquarters in the Cranberry Woods industrial park is targeted for “extensive” repairs, the building's owners said.

Problems with fabricated metal panels apparently are letting moisture into the building around windows, said Nelson Mills, president and CEO of Columbia Property Trust of Atlanta, which owns the building. He and a Westinghouse spokeswoman said there is no threat to employee safety.

Cranberry's manager of code administration Jeffrey Musher said he hasn't seen a problem of this potential scope in the 15 years he's worked for the township.

The township averages between $100 million and $200 million in annual construction, he said.

The township's inspection occurred before the building was occupied and followed state guidelines. It covered foundations, sewer and water service, steel construction and electrical service.

Problems after completion of a large construction project aren't unusual, said a real estate director at a local development company.

“Building performance issues are common, even with the best development team,” said Mark Minnerly of The Mosites Co., which has handled large commercial projects such as the Target in East Liberty but was not involved with the Westinghouse project. “Generally, it's a matter of time, energy and frustration in fixing these things, but it's always solvable.”

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

Mills has said his firm hired a company to examine the building last year, and its findings led Columbia to move ahead with a “more comprehensive fix.” He did not identify the company.

Minnerly said that the best hope when problems are uncovered is “that it's isolated to a few places where you can track it down and fix it.”

“There are so many players involved. The development of a building is a complex project,” Minnerly said.

“Sadly, this does happen,” said James Frantz, president of Tedco Construction in Carnegie. Columbia approached his company about doing an inspection, but another firm did the work. “There are too many structures depending on calking and sealants (to prevent) water penetration,” Frantz said.

He added, “A lot of times, you depend on calk joints, but with contraction and expansion, and cold and thermal expansion, it can tend to create a detriment to sealants.”

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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