Salem, OR’s Courthouse Square, which started to go wrong at the age of 2, has been sentenced to rehab.
Marion County officials have approved a $22.8 million remediation and structural overhaul of the 12-year-old problem complex, which was closed in 2010.
Photos: Marion County
|The Courthouse Square construction/design defects were initially discovered in 2002, two years after the structure was completed.|
Severe structural damage, including building envelope and concrete defects, resulting from a flawed design forced the site owners to embark on a multi-year, high-profile process to determine whether remediation was technically viable and financial feasible.
That determination has now been made. And through a rigorous competitive process, co-owners Marion County and the Salem Area Mass Transit District have selected Maryland-based Structural Preservation Systems as the design-build firm to complete the project.
A video of Structural Preservation’s proposal is available here.
Once construction begins, repairs are expected to take about 18 months. Substantial completion is expected by March 2014, according to county and transit officials.
The Courthouse Square, which had its grand opening in 2000 and cost $34 million to build, has been closed to the public for two years.
The site includes a five-story, 163,000-square-foot office building, a bus mall for the Salem-Keizer Transit District, and a future development site called the “North Block.”
The county said problems in the construction became evident as early as 2002.
“Initial problems included buckling floor tiles in restrooms, water seeping into the parking garage, and minor cracks in some walls,” according to officials.
When more obvious defects were observed, the county enlisted engineering firms to inspect and analyze the structure over several years.
In September 2010, the transit mall was deemed “imminently dangerous,” and the office building was classified as “dangerous.” County officials evacuated and closed both structures.
The classification of “dangerous” indicates that a building shows early signs of serious defects that make long-term occupation of the building unadvisable. The transit mall was found to be incapable of sustaining its current load and was immediately closed.
Problems in Design
According to structural evaluation report dated March 2011, the structural integrity of the entire complex was compromised due to building-design deficiencies involving the punching shear at the column/floor slab interface, column capacity and seismic resistance.
As for the building envelope, inspection and analysis determined extensive water infiltration and damage due to building movement. The report also noted that the quality of the building-envelope products and useful-life duration appeared to have contributed to the damage.
|As the design/build firm on the project, Structural Preservation Systems said it promised to provide complex repairs with a service life of 50+ years.|
Damage to interior wall assemblies and finishes were also found to be pervasive throughout the building.
The large-scale remediation will focus on the structural integrity of the complex, ensuring employee and public safety once the complex opens for business. Other functional repairs will include slab flatness, updated interior finishes, and re-commissioning mechanical and electrical systems, officials said.
“I am confident that the process undertaken over the last 18 months has brought us to the correct decision. I am excited to begin the remediation and look forward to returning the Courthouse Square complex to a safe, active and fully functioning facility,” said Jerry Thompson, president, SAMTD Board of Directors.
Structural Preservation Systems is recognized as one of the largest structural and architectural repair and strengthening contractors in the U.S. with more than 15,000 successful projects in the last 36 years. Notable projects include the Guggenheim Museum; Union Station, in Washington D.C.; La Guardia Airport, and the Supreme Court.
Local firms partnering with Structural Preservation Systems on the project include Dalke Construction, Carlson Veit Architects, P.C., BMGP Engineers, and Environmental and Engineering Services (EESI).
“Structural has successfully performed this type of remediation many times with tested techniques. This is their specialty; it is apparent they have a lot of expertise in this area,” said Mark Shipman, a member of an evaluation team assembled by the county and transit district.
As the general contractor on the project, Structural said it promised to provide complex repairs with a service life of 50+ years.
$22.8 Contract Funding
Both the county and transit district have identified potential funding sources for the project and have indicated there are no plans to raise taxes or reduce services to finance remediation.
County and transit officials also said they were committed to a “transparent process” keeping the public well informed on the project.
“We want to assure the public a safe and functional building once the project is complete,” said Patti Milne, chair, Marion County Board of Commissioners.