Thursday, January 17, 2013

Arena construction monitor belatedly reports on defective Barclays Center bolts, pieces of facade

While problems with incorrect bolts and defects in the Barclays Center facade were raised by consultants in early September, Merritt & Harris, construction consultant for the arena bond trustee, has finally seen fit to mention them.

The consultant did not mention such problems in its 11/30/12 report. However, an article early this month in the New York Times focused on defective bolts, indicating 1700 bolts had been swapped in by December.

Now the Merritt & Harris Site Observation Report released yesterday, dated 1/16/13 and based on a visit on 11/29/12, finally included documents dated 9/5/12 regarding the defects. (More on the report's other conclusions.)

The sequence suggests that, had the problems not surfaced in the press, the construction monitor would not have reported those problems, either because it did not have the consultants' reports or it chose to ignore them.

While the bolt problem has been resolved, it is not clear that all the other problems with the facade have been resolved.

The summary

Under Open Issues/Comments, the latest Merritt & Harris report makes reference to "deficiency items with regard to the wall panels, curtain walls, and veneers."

What does that mean? As detailed in the the third and fourth pages of the documents below, consultant Israel Berger & Associates reported:
  • it had not received shop drawings and calculations for signage
  • the architect or record, AECOM (formerly Ellerbe Becket) had not approved documents regarding various curtain wall panels, weathered steel panels, and curtain wall doors
  • there were missing weathered steel panels in 26 locations
  • there was incomplete/missing coping installation (the protective top layer) in seven locations
  • there were 14 missing soffit (underside of structure) panels
  • there were three broken glass units
  • there was uninspected canopy work
  • there were numerous missing metal panels used for cladding
  • all bolts at various places in the curtain wall needed to be replaced.
What was wrong with the bolts?

According to the last two pages in the documents below, Curtain Wall Design Consulting (CDC) reported on "the recent discovery that 5/8" diameter A 307-A bolts were used instead of ASTM A325 bolts."

The letter is oblique to the layman, as it does not indicate what level of hazard was presented. It did not specify the number of bolts involved nor, as the Times reported, that the bolts were "half as strong as those of that size that had been ordered."

"Member behavior, allowable strengths and load combinations as per prevailing codes were used to determine bolt acceptability," CDC stated, in apparent explanation of why only some rather than all bolts were being replaced.

CDC noted that the bolts all regarded the frame, external to the building, rather than the building itself.

These two pages are apparently part of the nine-page letter concerning the bolts that, according to the Times, Forest City said it had filed with the Department of Buildings Department on 9/14/12. It is not clear if any of the additional seven pages were part of the Merritt & Harris report.

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