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Repairing Albany's Decay-Damaged Library and Community Center
August 14, 2002

 (If the photos do not transmit, open the attached MSWORD file)

August 13, 2002



 For additional information, Contact Tom Butt, FAIA


  Interactive Resources, a Richmond Architecture-Engineering firm, is providing forensic architectural services and design of repairs for massive wood decay in the City of Albany’s nine-year old Library and Community Center Building.

 Bids were received yesterday for the work, which could take as long as six months.

 Wood decay in the framing and sheathing of stucco-clad buildings is a common problem encountered in California where stucco is widely used. While providing many desirable characteristics, including low cost, durability and fire resistance, stucco (Portland cement plaster) can also hide, for years, serious damage resulting from water intrusion if the building details are not properly designed and constructed.

 Interactive Resources is a 30-year old firm that provides a wide range of architecture, engineering and construction-related consulting to federal, state and local public agencies. One area of specialization includes the investigation and repair of construction defects, including providing expert witness reports and testimony for litigation. The project architect for the investigation and repair of the Albany Library and Community Center Building is Tom Butt, FAIA, who also serves as vice-mayor for the City of Richmond.

 Photographs of the damaged building and an article from the August 9, 2002, Contra Costa Times on the Albany Library and Community Center Building are reproduced below:

Text Box: The entire tower, with the exception of the steel frame and stairs will have to be demolished and reconstructed
Text Box: An example of a wood column, formerly covered by stucco, that has decayed all the way through





Text Box: The steel frame of the tower’s “flying beans” are the only components not entirely destroyed by water intrusion
Text Box: Decayed plywood sheathing and framing at a “flying beam” at the first floor level
















Posted on Fri, Aug. 09, 2002

 Albany files suit over construction


The city has filed a lawsuit against three parties that had a part in designing and constructing the city's community center, in an effort to recoup repair costs for the building that could reach $800,000.

In April, large chunks of stucco fell off an exterior wall of the tower of the Albany Community Center building, at 1249 Marin Ave.

The city has since spent about $100,000 to find out the extent of the damage and estimates it will cost another $700,000 to make repairs to the entire building.

"In the course of taking a look at why (the stucco) fell down, we found that behind the stucco siding itself, that there was dry rot and moisture in the wood underneath the stucco," said City Administrator Beth Pollard.

The city has filed a lawsuit in Alameda Superior Court against architect Hal Brandes, architect firm Marquis Associates and construction company Dickman-Norse Inc. to recoup the costs of building repairs as well as staff time. A judge will try to settle the matter out of court before it goes to trial. Pollard said the process could last two years.

"It's an extremely unfortunate set of circumstances that a 9 year-old building would have this much damage to it," Pollard said. "It's obviously very disconcerting and that's why the city has initiated litigation to the parties involved in the construction of the building to seek recovery of our costs."

The building was completed at a cost of about $5.5 million in 1993, and houses the city's recreation department, the city's community center and the Albany branch library.

The City Council has authorized placing the repair project up for bids and a contractor to do the improvements will likely be approved by the council at its Aug. 19 meeting.

"All sides of the tower will have new stucco and there will be new stucco on south and west sides of the building," said Pollard, of the repair project. "On the north and east sides there will be spot work."

In the meantime, $1 million upgrades to Memorial Park that were supposed to take place this summer have been postponed while city officials figure out whether to use that money instead for the community center repairs.

"We were just about to do (the Memorial Park project) this summer and fall, but we felt that given the costs of the community center, the prudent thing for the city to do is take care of what it needs to do for its immediate purposes," Pollard said.

Reach Alan Lopez at 510-243-3578 or at alopez1@cctimes.com.