2006-02-03 陶弘興訪波士頓 at
MIT's Stata (computer science) Center in Cambridge, designed by architect
Frank Gehry (comp. spring of 2004).
MIT sues Gehry,
citing leaks in $300m complex
Blames famed architect for flaws at Stata Center
November 6, 2007
sues Gehry, citing leaks in $300m complex
Blames famed architect for flaws at Stata Center
By Shelley Murphy
Boston Globe Staff / November 6, 2007
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has filed a negligence suit
against world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, charging that flaws in his
design of the $300 million Stata Center in Cambridge, one of the most
celebrated works of architecture unveiled in years, caused leaks to
spring, masonry to crack, mold to grow, and drainage to back up.
more stories like thisThe suit says that MIT paid Los Angeles-based
Gehry Partners $15 million to design the Stata Center, which was hailed
by critics as innovative and eye-catching with its unconventional walls
and radical angles. But soon after its completion in spring 2004, the
center's outdoor amphitheater began to crack due to drainage problems,
the suit says. Snow and ice cascaded dangerously from window boxes and
other projecting roof areas, blocking emergency exits and damaging other
parts of the building, according to the suit. Mold grew on the center's
brick exterior, the suit says, and there were persistent leaks
throughout the building.
The suit says it cost MIT more than $1.5 million to hire another company
to rebuild the amphitheater, with new bricks, seats, and a new drainage
The institute alleges that both Gehry Partners and the construction
company, New Jersey-based Beacon Skanska Construction Company, now known
as Skanska USA Building Inc., violated their contracts with MIT and are
responsible for construction and design failures on the project. The
400,000-square-foot Ray and Maria Stata Center, on Vassar Street, also
houses labs, offices, classrooms, and meeting rooms, and features a
"street" that winds through the ground floor.
"Gehry breached its duties by providing deficient design services and
drawings," says the suit, which was filed in Suffolk Superior Court in
Boston on Oct. 31 and seeks unspecified damages for costs and expenses
incurred by MIT.
Gehry Partners did not respond to repeated calls and e-mail yesterday
from the Globe. A spokesman for MIT declined to comment because of the
An executive at Skanska's Boston office yesterday blamed Gehry for
problems with the project and said Gehry ignored warnings from Skanska
and a consulting company prior to construction that there were flaws in
his design of the amphitheater.
"This is not a construction issue, never has been," said Paul Hewins,
executive vice president and area general manager of Skanska USA. He
said Gehry rejected Skanska's formal request to create a design that
included soft joints and a drainage system in the amphitheater, and "we
were told to proceed with the original design."
After the amphitheater began cracking and flooding, Skanska spent "a few
hundred thousand dollars" trying to resolve the problems, but, he said,
"it was difficult to make the original design work."
He said Skanska, which built Gillette Stadium, the State Street
Financial Center, and Terminal A at Logan International Airport, tried
to work with MIT, and attended mediation with the university, but was
unable to resolve all issues.
Hewins said two consulting firms hired by MIT agreed with Skanska's
assessment that Gehry's initial design was flawed and that the
amphitheater had to be completely rebuilt.
more stories like this"We worked hard to work with MIT to bring this to
resolution . . . but it was a design issue," Hewins said.
"It really is a disaster," said former Boston University president John
Silber, who sharply criticizes the Stata Center's design in a new book,
"Architecture of the Absurd: How 'Genius' Disfigured a Practical Art."
After learning of the lawsuit yesterday, Silber said Gehry "thinks of
himself as an artist, as a sculptor. But the trouble is you don't live
in a sculpture and users have to live in this building."
Gehry, one of the world's most famous architects, designed the
Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, one of the most acclaimed
architectural structures of the 1990s; the Walt Disney Concert Hall in
Los Angeles; and the recently completed IAC/InterActive Corp
headquarters in New York.
Gehry is not the first famous architect to be sued over the design of a
local landmark. I.M. Pei and Partners, the architects who designed the
60-story John Hancock Tower, were sued, along with a handful of
contractors and engineers, after panes of glass began popping out of the
Back Bay building and crashing onto the street below during its
construction in the 1970s. It drew worldwide publicity as "The Plywood
skyscraper" when its glass was temporarily replaced with wood. The case
was settled out of court.
Robert Campbell, an architect who is a critic for the Globe, said it is
inevitable that there will be problems in any unconventional building
like the Stata Center, which has roofs colliding at different, odd
"It looks like something out of a Disney cartoon," Campbell said. "It's
really quite pleasurable and people like it, but it does involve some
risks in that it's impossible to keep it from leaking."
In its suit, MIT said it wanted to create a complex of buildings on the
nearly 3-acre site along Vassar Street designed to "catalyze
interactions and innovations among MIT's faculty and students in
computing, information science, artificial intelligence, and linguistics
The result, Campbell said, helped to break up the monotony of a street
of concrete buildings.
"Because he's so daring, you figure you've got to be daring, too, if
you're a client," Campbell said. "You know if you hire Frank Gehry there
are going to be new kinds of problems." But he said clients accept the
risks because "they'll get a building like no other building."
© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.