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Saturday, June 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Hospital Unhappy with Architects & Engineers

CHICAGO (CN) - One of Chicago's largest hospitals claims in court that architectural and engineering firms made "gross errors" in designing a new building - including miscalculating the wattage of TVs in patients' rooms - which will cost nearly $8 million to fix.

Rush University Medical Center sued Perkins+Will, architects, and Environmental Systems Design, engineers, in Cook County Court.

Rush claims, among other things, that the defendants miscalculated requirements for the cooling system and miscalculated the wattage of televisions in patients' rooms.

Rush operates a 664-bed hospital that is home to a well-regarded nursing programs. U.S. News and World Report called Rush the third-best hospital in Chicago.

Rush hired Perkins+Will (P+W) and Environmental Systems Design (ESD) for a major renovation of the medical center's campus.

"In 2004, RUMC began an approximately $1 billion project to modernize and transform its Chicago campus," the complaint states. "The Transformation Project included the construction of several new buildings, including a new 14-story hospital building, commonly referred to as the 'Atrium Addition.'"

Construction of the Atrium Addition began in 2008.

"As of May 2009, the core and shell of the building was in place ...," the complaint states. "However, by letter dated May 22, 2009 - just one week before trade contractors were to begin installing ductwork and piping - ESD notified P+W and RUMC that it had made an error in calculating the cooling airflow requirements for the Atrium Addition. ...

"In the May 22, 2009 letter, ESD stated that the cooling airflow within the Atrium Addition had to be increased by thirteen percent (13%). ...

"In the May 22, 2009 letter, ESD cited as a 'key factor' the fact that RUMC had decided to add 42[-inch] flat panel televisions in patient rooms. ESD stated it assumed that RUMC would purchase Energy Star televisions using an average of 250 watts and, according to ESD, this created the need for greater cooling airflow.

"RUMC's decision to install the televisions, however, was already known to ESD before the Design Development Drawings were issued in May 2008. RUMC's decision to install the televisions was not new. Also, ESD's belief that the Energy Star televisions would use 250 watts was incorrect. In reality, those televisions use less than 125 watts each, a fact of which ESD was or should have been aware."

Rush claims: "ESD's new calculations and requirements were the result of ESD making fundamental, gross errors by ignoring critical information that was or should have been known to ESD during the design development phase and at the time P+W and ESD issued the Design Development Drawings. Further, ESD's new calculations and requirements were based in part on ESD's earlier intentional decision to wrongfully assume that certain parts of the Atrium Addition, such as the 9th floor build-out and the lower level tunnel, would not need cooling airflow.

"Nonetheless, P+W and ESD continued to insist that the volume of cooling airflow needed to increase by thirteen percent (13%), which would require substantially larger ductwork.

"ESD was the engineer of record for the Atrium Addition. RUMC was, therefore, required to adhere to ESD's decisions and implement its changes. The only way that RUMC could have avoided making ESD's required changes would have been to have ESD terminated and replaced with a new engineer of record. Replacing ESD was not feasible at that stage of construction," Rush states in the complaint.

Rush calculates that "in total, the changes required by P+W and ESD caused RUMC to incur $7,924,674 in additional costs."

It adds: "When construction of the Atrium Addition was substantially completed, the heating, venting and air conditioning (HVAC) system was tested and balanced. RUMC then discovered that the changes ESD required ... had not been necessary. ... Instead, it was necessary to actually reduce the cooling airflow in the Atrium Addition in order to properly balance the HVAC system.

"Thus, after paying almost $8 million to increase cooling airflow by thirteen percent (13%) and directing numerous trade contractors to change and re-coordinate their work, RUMC had to reduce the maximum cooling airflow by approximately the same amount, to a volume that could have been handled by the system as originally designed. RUME ended up with an excess cooling airflow capacity that it does not need and cannot use.

"Despite this, P+W and ESD continue to stand by the May 22, 2009 letter, and attribute their redesign to nonexistent changes to the unreasonable assumptions that they made when preparing the Design Development Drawings."

Rush seeks $9,924,674, with interest, for breach of contract.

It is represented by Raymond Fylstra, with Kubasiak, Fylstra, Thorpe & Rotunno.

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