Architect could seek costs from joint venture PGT over alleged design flaws in largest newly-built museum project in a century

The architect facing a £3.5m High Court claim against it over alleged problems with the Museum of Liverpool will seek costs from the project’s main contractor if it is found liable, writes Will Hurst.

Papers filed at the Technology and Construction Court show that lawyers acting for AEW Architects have filed a so-called “part 20 defence” in addition to the main defence that it issued in February, which denies AEW’s liability.

This alleges that Pihl Galliford Try (PGT) - a joint venture between Galliford Try and the Danish contractor Pihl - was responsible under the terms of its £41m contract for the “design and construction” of the external steps and terraces that the museum now claims are faulty.

However, it will not be seeking a contribution from PGT to its potential liability for alleged problems with the museum’s suspended ceilings.

The £72m building - the largest newly built national museum in the UK for more than a century - opened last July.

The museum claims that a “defective” design by AEW means that it will have to replace the building’s precast steps and entrance terrace.

It alleges that the steps are unsafe, lack planning permission, and are insufficiently water resistant to protect the rooms that are beneath them.

However, the part 20 defence argues that PGT bears responsibility because it chose the type of waterproof membrane used under the steps and terrace.

It also claims that PGT changed the layout of the “seat and steps” without a verbal instruction from AEW and in a way that was not in accordance with the architect’s original design.

It adds that alleged “finger and heel traps” caused by gaps in the steps are also a “construction defect which was the responsibility of PGT”.

The defence argues that such alleged failings represent a breach of PGT’s contract and its duty of care to the client.

The Museum of Liverpool declined to comment.

A spokesman for Galliford Try said: “PGT believes that we have no liability in connection with this dispute.”