Massachusetts Institute of Technology issues lawsuit over cracks in its £143m Stata Center

Architect Frank Gehry and Skanska USA Building are being sued by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) over failures in the institute’s £143m ($300m) Stata Center.

M.I.T. said leaks, cracks and drainage problems in the building have required costly repairs.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and was filed in Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston last week.

It accuses Gehry’s Los Angeles based firm, Gehry Partners, of negligence and breach of contract in the design of the centre, which houses laboratories, classrooms, offices and meeting rooms.

The suit says there has been “considerable masonry cracking” in the centre’s 350-seat outdoor amphitheatre and that M.I.T. had hired a designer and contractor to repair it at a cost of more than £700,000 ($1.5m).

Court papers also said the institute found other problems, such as “sliding ice and snow from the building’s window boxes and other projecting roof areas, blocking emergency exits and damaging other building elements.”

Gehry, whose firm was paid £7m ($15m) for the project, told The Boston Globe construction problems were inevitable and M.I.T. wanted his insurance. He also said cost-cutting was to blame.

A spokeswoman for Skanska USA Building said it looked forward to a “speedy resolution” of the matter.

Paul Hewins, executive vice president and general manager, told The Globe it was not a “construction issue”, and that Gehry had rejected Skanska’s formal request to revise the design for the amphitheatre.

The design of the centre features angular sections that appear to be falling on top of one another and opened in spring 2004.

In December 2004 he responded to problems with the £130m ($274m) Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles after a report found the building’s skin produced excessive glare.