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Rowland sets aside $10 million
for UConn law school library repairs

Associated Press

February 5, 2004

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Fixing the granite facade of the University of Connecticut law school library is expected to cost $10 million, a bill that would be picked up by the state under Gov. John G. Rowland's proposed budget.

The library has been covered in scaffolding for the past year after a report by an independent architectural firm discovered shoddy workmanship that left the signature facade so vulnerable it could blow off in a heavy windstorm.

University and state officials have been investigating who is responsible: the architects, the company that supplied the contractors, the masons who installed the stone or the state Department of Public Works, which oversaw the entire project.

Rowland's budget director, Marc Ryan, said repairs need to be made to preserve the $24 million building, which was completed seven years ago.

"We made a decision here," Ryan said. "We know enough about the building. We documented enough."

While no legal actions have been filed, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said Thursday that his office is nearing the end of its investigation and expects legal action in the near future.

Blumenthal said he supported the funding allocation to protect the building from more damage, but added that he was also working to pursue those responsible and recoup the money.

"The responsibility may well belong to more than one party," he said. "The people of Connecticut have a right to expect better construction than was done in this building."

University spokeswoman Karen Grava said the Department of Public Works oversaw the construction of the building, but the university has since been granted power by the legislature to manage its own projects.

While the university will oversee the repairs, there is no timetable for repair work to begin, she said. Initial estimates said the repairs would take two years to complete.

Grava said university officials have been meeting with the parties involved over the past year, and another report on the building's condition is due out in a few weeks.

The university hired Hoffman Architects, a North Haven firm, to review the work because it was dissatisfied with the Department of Public Works' response to complaints about chronic leaks, the dean of the law school, Nell Jessup Newton, has said.

The firm, which released its report in late 2002, cited problems such as an ineffective system to bond the stone to the building and the use of inferior material, including scrap pieces of tarp, as waterproofing.

The S/L/A/M Collaborative of Glastonbury was the architectural firm that designed the library building. The firm has said that it worked with UConn officials to correct water leakage problems.

The subcontractor in charge of the granite work was Lombardo Brothers Mason Contractors of Hartford. A message was left with the company Thursday night.

Quality-control responsibility rested with the three groups overseeing the library job - general contractors Gilbane Building Co. and Arborio Corp; S/L/A/M; and the state Department of Public Works, the developer. Representatives of all three groups have said that they had assigned quality-control supervisors to the construction site in 1994 when work started.