Womble Carlyle Construction Industry Blog

Following the construction industry and related legal topics in the United States.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Another Reason for Engineers and their Carriers to be Cautious

Yet another reason for engineers and their carriers to be cautious-- see Mid-State Surety Corp. v. Thrasher Eng'g, Inc., 2006 WL 1390430 (S.D.W. Va. May 16, 2006), as noted in this month's Construction Channel.

While it may well be that engineers do not necessarily owe the same contractual duties to the contractor that they do to the owner with whom they have privity, if in the carrying out of the engineer's duty it is reasonably foreseeable that there are others, as surety, who may look to the engineer for protection by its performing its responsibilities to Owner, then if the engineer is negligent, the engineer may be subject to action. When representing the Contractor and its Surety, one must be careful in preserving all parties' claims against the Engineer- they are not always the same.

We just saw the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina let the engineer out of a case, in part on a procedural issue and in part on the theory that the Contractor could not look to the Engineer for Contract Administration oversight lapses as that duty ran to the Owner, not the Contractor. I am sure the Surety involved behind the Contractor cannot be happy with this result. (Today's entry was published by John Springer of Womble Carlyle's Construction and Real Estate Development Group.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

On the lighter side . . . Architecture enters your living room

A creative collaboration between Turner Classic Movies ("TCM") and Architectural Digest, and a major sponsor, American Leather, has led to a cultural event that you can enjoy from your recliner, remote in hand. On each Wednesday in October, TCM will air classic films depicting architectural themes or cityscapes to enrich, enliven and educate its boomer audience. I venture to say that buried in these archival films we can also find food for thought about how we do our work, the design process, the construction milieu, and the clients we serve. So, in October, consider letting Architectural Digest and TCM into your home and enjoy the collection of extraordinary film offerings and commentary, called "Architecture in Film."

For further discussion on the series, see this article in The New York Times. (Today's entry was published by Laura Luger of Womble Carlyle's construction and real estate development group).

Friday, September 15, 2006

AIA Design Trend Survey: Homeowners Want Energy Efficiency

Noticed that large gas guzzling SUV's are not moving off the showroom floors like they used to? A recent AIA survey reveals that the same consumer sentiment applies to homes designed by architects.

Every quarter, the AIA conducts a Home Design Trend Survey based on data from 500 architecture firms specializing in the residential sector. The latest survey reveals that while the residential market has been weakening, homeowners have been pursuing more remodeling opportunities with a demand for energy conservation. The unexciting but practical feature of adding extra insulation in the attic was the home feature with the highest increase in popularity. Home features that have seen the greatest drop in popularity in new and remodeled residential projects include larger hallways and increased circulation space and upscale entryways, which are energy inefficient and yield little functionality and useable space.

The survey reveals that the inclusion of home offices is now the most popular special function room in current residential projects. Again, function and energy conservation a factor. Meanwhile, extravagances such as media/home theaters and kid's/guest wings are diminishing in popularity.

For the full report, click here.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

More on Homeland Security in Facility Design

A few weeks ago we posted a blog about ASHRAE's draft guidelines addressing risk management of public health and safety in buildings. On the 5th anniversary of 9/11, it seems appropriate to follow up on that subject.

Shortly after 9/11, Rudolph Giuliani made this statement: "Most buildings are run not by the government but by private companies .... I think we need a lot more participation from the private sector." (Money Magazine, October 2003). ASHRAE's draft guidelines and numerous other published materials demonstrate that many people, at least in the design sector, have disaster preparedness and mitigation much on their minds.

It seems that every architect and engineer must assess the "terror threat" associated with their design of a facility in the following categories (at a minimum), because these categories are listed as the most important in virtually every published checklist addressing vulnerability assessments:

site planning and design
building design
landscaping design
HVAC system design
parking facility design

The risk to design professionals is that, should an incident occur that causes death or serious injury to inhabitants of, visitors to, or passers-by a facility they have designed, they will very likely be asked to produce the vulnerability assessment they performed with respect to these categories prior to and during their design of the facility.

Vulnerability assessments and follow-on actions are important not only to designers, but also to developers, constructors, landlords and property managers. We will continue to address this very important subject in future blogs. (Today's blog was published by Karen Carey of Womble Carlyle's construction and real estate development group).