Monday, October 17, 2016

Saltz Michelson Architects to pay Broward County, FL school district $1.5 million to resolve years long dispute regarding fire safety issues

Saltz Michelson Architects to pay Broward County, FL school district $1.5 million to resolve years long dispute
Scott Travis Sun Sentinel

Broward schools settles dispute with architect hired 17 years ago.

A decade long feud between the Broward County School District and an architect over the design of an elementary school is finally coming to an end.

Saltz Michelson Architects has agreed to pay the district $1.56 million to resolve expenses related to fire safety issues at North Andrews Gardens Elementary in Oakland Park. The company is not admitting any fault.

The money could help offset some of the major cost increases anticipated in the construction program funded by an $800 million voter-approved bond.

The district hired Saltz Michelson in 1999 to design what was then a $7.3 million renovation and expansion at North Andrews Gardens. Construction started in 2002, but the next year, a new district inspector determined two buildings under construction didn't meet state fire codes. One of the major issues was that the second floor ceilings had not been fireproofed, district officials said.

The project underwent numerous change orders and additional costs totaling more than $1 million, but inspectors said it still didn't meet fire codes.

In 2006, a fire inspector wrote that "it is understood that a fire watch must be in place at all times the building is occupied," after finding the second floor needed to be subdivided by a one-hour fire-resistant "smoke barrier" or door to allow people to escape from a smoke-filled section to a smoke-free one. The school was later outfitted with sprinklers, satisfying fire inspectors.

Superintendent Robert Runcie said construction for the first projects in the five-year program would start in the summer of 2015. But construction has yet to start.

The district filed the lawsuit against Saltz Michelson in 2008, alleging errors and omissions in its design. The company argued its design met state requirements and the district voiced no concerns when it was approved.


Saltz Michelson Architects is an award winning architectural firm, providing a full range of architectural and planning services.  Our commitment to professionalism and strong project management has allowed us to play a key role in the development of public and private projects throughout Florida.  The services we offer are tailored to the unique needs of our clients and the specific requirements of the projects for which we are responsible.