Posts tagged with "Lawsuits":

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David Chipperfield’s Nobel Center is blocked by Swedish court

After the revised scheme for David Chipperfield’s Nobel Center in Stockholm sailed through a city council vote in 2016, Sweden’s Land and Environment Court halted construction on the project on May 22. The $132 million complex was set to break ground on Stockholm’s Blasieholmen peninsula and would serve as a permanent home for all Nobel Prize ceremonies going forward. Chipperfield’s revised design, presented in 2016 to address concerns that the Nobel Center would be too large for the historically sensitive district in which it sits, would see two stacked boxes wrapped in vertical brass louvers dropped right on the waterfront. Although the project passed an additional vote by the Stockholm County Administrative Board last year, the ruling has put a hold on construction over the building's size, color, and sensitive location. The City of Stockholm will reportedly appeal the decision to a higher court. In ruling against the Center’s construction, the court wrote that the building would have a negative impact on the area’s cultural heritage, claiming it would “cause significant damage” to the district’s environment, and “would affect the readability of Stockholm's historical development as a port, shipping and trading city.” Inside, Chipperfield’s scheme for the Center is anchored by an large sunken stage overlooking the Klara Sjö canal, framed by an enormous double-height window bay. When Nobel Prizes aren’t being awarded, the building would be used to host lectures, science-related seminars, regular exhibitions, and other important ceremonies. While the project might be temporarily stalled out, Chipperfield Architects released a suite of new interior renderings right before the ruling came down. The new images reveal the Center’s finalized interior layout and a surprisingly stark choice of materials. The Center’s smaller footprint has necessitated a tighter layout, and from the renderings, it appears that the building will be precisely programmed, with circulation moving around a central void between floors. Chipperfield has chosen to use raw concrete and will keep the building’s structural elements exposed, from the floor joists over guests’ heads to the concrete columns that break up the circulation areas. Even the sunken theater appears to be paneled in precast concrete (no word on how that might affect the acoustic properties). AN will follow up on this story as the case proceeds.
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Alejandro Zaera-Polo sues Princeton University for “damages” to his reputation

Spanish architect Alejandro Zaera-Polo is filing a law suit against the current trustees of Princeton University, incumbent President Christopher L. Eisgruber, and Dean Kathleen Deignan. Founder of London and New York-based Alejandro Zaera-Polo & Maider Llaguno Architecture (AZPML), and Foreign Office Architects (now no longer practicing), Zaera-Polo is also the former dean of Princeton's School of Architecture.
Eisgruber asked to Zaera-Polo to resign in 2014 after he allegedly did not credit work done by the university for his exhibition on facades and its catalog at that year's Venice Architecture Biennale, directed by Rem Koolhaas. [You can find coverage of the current 2016 Biennale here]
Now Zaera-Polo is claiming the university caused “substantial damage” to both his reputation and his firm, which subsequently led to him miss “lucrative and prestigious professional and academic opportunities.” According to BDOnline, Zaera-Polo alleges that President Christopher L. Eisgruber's insistence that he resign—which Zaera-Polo he described as “inexplicably urgent”—led to “false rumors of sexual or financial misconduct” being spread. “Moreover Eisgruber and Prentice acted prematurely, negligently and/or recklessly in a manner that seemingly confirmed the widespread, false, and damaging public rumors concerning [the] plaintiff," the papers read. "Defendants’ actions and failures to act have resulted in significant damage to plaintiff’s business and to his reputation, including the loss of lucrative and prestigious professional and academic opportunities." As a result, the Spanish architect is calling for “punitive damages” held against Eisgruber, Deborah Prentice (the current dean of the faculty), trustees, “John and Jane Does,” and 20 “other individuals who participated in, or were complicit with, the conduct complained of herein” (likely to be students and staff).
The papers filed at Mercer County Court in Trenton, describe the event as “an action for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, trade libel, and defamation.” In addition to this, Prentice reported the complaint to Koolhaas. Zaera-Polo, however, said that the work duly credited others in the footnotes of an academic version of the catalog. One anonymous source stated Zaera-Polo plagiarized Wikipedia. The papers also state: “Adding insult to injury, defendants have fostered a hostile environment toward plaintiff at Princeton. For example, Princeton relocated plaintiff to a shared office in a basement, contrary to Princeton’s policy granting full, senior professors individual offices, generally on the ground floor. Princeton hired an alternate lecturer on building facades (plaintiff’s expertise) and scheduled that course to conflict exactly with plaintiff’s course on the same subject. Princeton even failed to list plaintiff’s course in its course catalog during spring 2015.” Meanwhile Princeton University has said in a statement: “The university is aware that Professor Zaera-Polo has filed an action against it and others relating to the investigation and disposition of research misconduct claims asserted against him and to his resignation as Dean of the School of Architecture. As noted in the rules and procedures of the faculty, the ‘university is committed to high scholarly standards in the substance of research and to high ethical standards in the conduct of research’ and to the fair and unbiased adjudication of all misconduct complaints. “The university is confident that the officials and faculty members who investigated and adjudicated the claims against Professor Zaera-Polo did so fairly and in accordance with university policies and procedures. The university will defend its position in court, and looks forward to the successful resolution of these claims.”
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Developers, builders sue city of Chicago over new affordable housing fees

Home builders and developers in Chicago have sued the city to block a tightening of its affordable housing laws, which were recently revamped to encourage more private development of units accessible to low-income residents. Hoyne Development and the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago say the longstanding Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) violates the Fifth Amendment because it involves the taking of private property without "just compensation.” Earlier this year Chicago City Council voted to overhaul of the ARO, which compels private developers to build affordable housing or pay "in-lieu" fees. Those fees were too low, many argued, and resulted mostly in developers paying their way out of having to devote a substantial amount of new housing stock to affordable units. But in their suit the developers argue raising the fees could backfire by making $900 million in planned construction suddenly infeasible. The new ARO fees take effect October 13. As Brentin Mock writes for CityLab, the outcome of the case could affect similar proceedings in Los Angeles and New York, where so-called inclusionary-zoning plans are in the works.
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Following lawsuit, Clemson University backs down on plans for a new architecture center in Charleston

For the second time in a decade, Clemson University has scrapped plans for a modern architecture center in Charleston’s historic district. Confronted with a lawsuit by neighborhoods and preservation groups, who objected to the addition of the glitzy, $10 million metal-and-glass building on George and Meeting streets, the university is seeking to lease temporary space in downtown Charleston. The approval process for the architecture center has seesawed since 2012, when residents decried the building as aesthetically unfit to rub shoulders with the stately George Street headquarters of Spoleto Festival USA. Arguably, the historic district is already a hodgepodge of stylistic eras—from Georgian to Federal to Greek Revival to Victorian The architecture center's leased location has yet to be determined, but it will house the university’s locally-based architecture and historic preservation programs. Clemson’s Board of Trustees recently approved the plans for a temporary home to “better meet existing needs, anticipate planned growth and ensure that students in Charleston work in labs, studios and workshops that reflect contemporary standards of professional practice, a larger, more functional facility is required,” Clemson said. Currently, the historic preservation master’s degree program, which Clemson administers with the College of Charleston, and the Clemson Architecture Center are spread over three locations. According to the university, the interim leased space will be large enough to accommodate growth from a proposed new master’s degree program and the expansion of the specialized healthcare design track. The initially proposed architecture center (to be named the Spaulding Paolozzi Center) by nationally known architect Brad Cloepfil of Oregon-based Allied Works Architecture garnered some supporters at the 2012 Board of Architectural Review Meeting–including the director of preservation and museums at the Historic Charleston Foundation. But local residents showed the most antipathy during the public comments section of the meeting. Sculptor John Michel, offered perhaps the most outspoken take: “Why in the world do a bunch of Martians want to invade this city and put up a trap that looks like something that Walmart would build?”
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Court reverses decision on French architect Jean Nouvel’s lawsuit against the Philharmonie de Paris

Celebrated French architect Jean Nouvel lost a court case in which he sued the Philharmonie de Paris for removal of his name from the project due to major deviations from his original design. The court, which ruled in his favor on April 16 pending “additional detailed and comparative information,” reversed its decision hours later. The jury alleges that Nouvel failed to provide incriminating documentation to justify his claim that 26 parts of the 2,400-seat auditorium, whose January 15 inauguration he boycotted, had strayed from his design. These key elements include parapets, foyers, facades, promenades, and acoustic elements of the performance hall. The court said the documents he provided "do not allow the court to assess the work asked for in its definitive state, both globally and in detail," and the court was thus unable to rule whether the work had been "adulterated.” Nouvel also sued on the grounds that his firm, Ateliers Jean Nouvel, was not liable for the nearly doubled costs due to delays and allegedly radical departure from the design proposal.
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Zaha Hadid settles lawsuit, donates proceeds to laborers’ rights charity

One of the biggest architectural head-to-head matches of 2014 has come to an amicable end. As AN reported last fall, Zaha Hadid sued New York Review of Books critic Martin Filler for defamation for comments he made about her in a review of Rowan Moore’s Why We Build: Power and Desire in Architecture. In his piece, Filler knocked the starchitect's record on workers' rights, writing that an "estimated one thousand laborers” had died working on the Al Wakrah Stadium (above) she designed for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. As it turned out, construction on that project hadn't even started yet. Filler acknowledged his error and apologized. Now, Hadid has withdrawn her lawsuit and the two parties have settled out of court. While we don’t know the amount of the settlement, we do know that Hadid and Filler are making a donation to “a charitable organization that protects and champions labor rights.”
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Eavesdrop> Muckraking Architecture Critics!

Zaha Hadid has sued the New York Review of Books. The complaint, filed last month in Manhattan Supreme Court, takes issue with a piece by architecture critic Martin Filler that allegedly mischaracterized her comments on the deaths of hundreds of migrant construction workers in Qatar, where she has designed a soccer stadium for the 2022 World Cup. According to Hadid’s lawyers, the article is a “personal attack disguised as a book review” of New York Observer architecture critic Rowan Moore’s Why We Build. It apparently quotes the Pritzker Prize winner as saying that architects “have nothing to do with the workers” and goes on to characterize her as being a generally uncaring and difficult person. The lawyers went on to point out that no workers have died on Hadid’s project, which, as a matter of fact, has yet to begin construction. The suit has stirred up quite a bit of activity on social media, including a tweet from Paul Goldberger, who said that the suit was unwise as it will earn Hadid a reputation as “the architect who sues critics.” The NYRB has since issued a retraction.
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Broad Collection Sues Seele over Problematic Los Angeles Museum Facade

In a recent interview, Diller Scofidio + Renfro Senior Associate Kevin Rice told AN that the "veil" at Los Angeles' Broad Museum—a facade made of hundreds of molded Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) panels, had been delayed by over a year. "Some of the things took longer to make than they thought, but there aren’t really problems with it," Rice said. But now it looks like the issues with the museum's facade are more severe than initially thought. The LA Times has reported that the Broad Collection and contractor Matt Construction are suing Seele, the engineer of that facade, seeking $19.8 million in damages relating to the delay. Other damages, according to the complaint (PDF), include breach of contract, fraud in the inducement, and fraud and deceit. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that Seele "violated the important 'aesthetic aspect' of the architect's design," and its mockups were "unsightly and wholly unacceptable for use on the project." As a result the firm was not able to meet its October, 2013 deadline to design, fabricate, and install the facade, setting the project's timeline way back. The Broad's lawsuit also names Zurich American Insurance Company and Fidelity and Deposit Company—backers of a bond guaranteeing Seele's work—as defendants. "Seele did not possess the necessary skill, experience, resources, commitment or ability to perform the work at The Broad museum," the complaint stated. Broad Foundation spokesperson Karen Denne told AN, "we're not commenting—the lawsuit speaks for itself." As of now the museum is still set to open in 2015, but the exact date remains up in the air.
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Valerio Dewalt Train’s 13-Story Hyde Park Development Advances With Changes

Last year, Mesa Development and the University of Chicago announced they’d planned a 13-story mixed-use development for the western end of Hyde Park’s 53rd Street commercial strip. The massive project drew opposition to its scale and a lawsuit delayed construction—until now. [beforeafter] 02a-chicago-vue53-archpaper 02b-chicago-vue53-archpaper[/beforeafter]   The Valerio Dewalt Train Associates (VDTA) design and its density ruffled some feathers around the neighborhood, as the 135-foot-tall building, dubbed Vue53, would be among the area’s tallest structures. (Nearby Harper Court tops out at 160 feet.) A judge in February threw out a lawsuit appealing the building's zoning change, paving the way for the 300,000 square foot facility and its 267 rental apartments, 228 parking spaces and 29,000 square feet of ground floor retail. Curbed reported McHugh Construction is apparently seeking subcontractors for the project. VDTA’s yellow-accented facade appears to have been traded for silvery glass. They appear to have adjusted the rhythm of the facade pattern, too. The developer is targeting completion during Summer of 2015.
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Calatrava Must Pay: Spanish Architect Loses Latest Legal Saga

Santiago Calatrava has been ordered by a Spanish court to pay $4 million for problems plaguing a municipal building he designed in Oviedo in Northwest Spain. While the final fee is lower than an initial ruling, such legal problems have become something of an unfortunate calling card for the Spanish architect. The Palacio de Congresos de Oviedo was completed in 2011 and features the soaring forms and white ribs that tend to populate Calatrava's work. The suit stems from issues involving the construction of the building as well as the project's final budget, which exceeded original estimates. Calatrava's fairly loose interpretation of budgetary restrictions has come under fire throughout the architect's prolific career. He is also in the midst of a legal battle regarding an opera house in Valencia whose final cost of $455.6 million—four times greater than its original budget—was not enough to ensure structural stability for more than a decade. Part of Valencia's City of Arts and Sciences that the architect had a major role in designing, the concert hall is the biggest fish in a sea of problems besetting the complex. Practicality has also not always been a strong suit for the architect. Bridges in Venice and Bilbao have both developed reputations for the extreme slipperiness among other issues. An airport he designed for the latter city was found lacking in a sheltered arrivals hall, a problem that Calatrava himself was forced to remedy. And the list continues. Assuming all goes according to plan, by 2015 New Yorkers will be able to witness what may be the zenith of the troubled beauty that has come to define Calatrava's works. The World Trade Center Transporation Hub represents his avian aesthetic at its most striking. However, the project's completion date is six years behind schedule, while its initial budget of $2 billion has since swelled to $4 billion.
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Minneapolis’ Peavey Plaza escapes demolition after preservationist lawsuit

Minneapolis’ Peavey Plaza, a classic but poorly maintained “park plaza” (to borrow the term its designer, landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg, coined to describe it), has escaped demolition, preservationists announced Friday. The Cultural Landscape Foundation said they’d reached a settlement to preserve the 1975 public space, ending a lawsuit brought by TCLF and the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota in June 2012. It awaits the signature of Mayor R.T. Rybak. Last year, against objections from a coalition of preservationists led by TCLF, Peavey Plaza was slated to be razed. A rift had developed one year prior, after city-led redevelopment plans threatened key elements of the original design, prompting Friedberg and TCLF president Charles Birnbaum to split from the team tasked with bringing the aging modernist plaza up to contemporary standards. “Specific details beyond the general design concept have yet to be established,” read a TCLF press release. “The parties have conducted substantial work with each other on a rehabilitation of the Plaza in good faith with a focus on preservation of the historic elements of the Plaza, while permitting the Plaza to be changed and/or modified in order to achieve some of the objectives of the City.” Peavey Plaza landed on the National Register of Historic Places in January — one of a small fraction of sites on that list with significance in landscape architecture.
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Emeco Sinks Restoration Hardware’s Battleship: Navy Chair Dispute Settled

During World War II, the U.S. Government asked Wilton Carlyle Dinges, founder of the Hanover, PA-based Electrical Machine and Equipment Company (now Emeco) to design a lightweight chair rugged enough to "withstand water, salt air and sailors." That design became known as the Navy Chair (or the Model 1006 for purists) and today has become a staple of industrial-chic design. Now you can add "copycats" to that list after a legal dispute, involving a nearly-identical chair from Restoration Hardware called the "Naval Chair," has been settled. Emeco sued Restoration Hardware last October alleging infringement of Emeco's trademark of the Navy Chair. "The irreparable harm caused by Restoration Hardware, an established company, to Emeco’s reputation and significant goodwill is massive, incomparable to that caused by a typical, small-time counterfeiter," the company said at the time in a statement. Now, Unbeige reports that the dispute "has been settled for an undisclosed sum." According to a statement released by Emeco Monday, "As part of that settlement, Restoration Hardware has agreed to permanently cease selling the chairs that Emeco accused of infringement, and its existing inventory of such chairs will be recycled." The larger significance of this settlement is its implications to protecting the intellectual property of designers. Design copyright protection has been a contentious issue between designers, manufacturers, and counterfeiters—even reaching recently to the scale of architecture—and will continue to play out in coming years.