Glazing fell up to 17 Storeys from City of London office tower

Lendlease Construction has been ordered to pay out £14.8m by the High Court, after glass windows fell up to 17 storeys from a City of London office block it had refurbished.

Lend Lease, as it was then, carried out the design-and-build renovation at 125 Old Broad Street between 2006 and 2008. The 26-storey tower was reclad with a curtain walling system of storey-height, framed glass panes.

But the court heard that between 2008 and 2012, there were 17 “spontaneous failures” of the glass panes on the building, some of which fell to street level.

Handing down his judgment last week, Mr Justice Stuart-Smith described the project’s failings as “disastrous”, and calculated total damages of £14,753,195 were due to the claimant, OBS 125, the owner of 125 Old Broad Street and Lend Lease’s client.

The judge said the glazing installed on 125 Old Broad Street should have been heat-soaked in accordance with the relevant European standard, but there was “compelling evidence that 35-40% of the glass was not”.

He added: “Failure to heat soak 35% of the glass is a serious breach of contract.”

But Lendlease said it would not be “financially impacted” by the judgment after reaching an agreement with its cladding subcontractor, Italian firm Permasteelisa.

Although Lendlease was the named defendant in the case, as main contractor, the glazing installation at 125 Old Broad Street was carried out by Permasteelisa.

A spokesman for Lendlease said: “Permasteelisa and Lendlease have reached an agreement whereby Lendlease will not be financially impacted.”

Klaus Lother, chief executive of Permasteelisa UK, said: “This judgment is relevant to an old project executed in 2005 and is connected with a decision by the client to change the project materials. The need for changing said materials was attributed by the client to Permasteelisa, which we objected to.

“Although we cannot agree with the conclusions of the judgment, we were long since prepared for such a possibility. Therefore it will have no impact on the Permasteelisa business in the UK or at group level.”

The problems with the building’s glazing first hit the headlines in August 2009, when a pane on the 18th floor broke and fell to the street below, injuring two pedestrians, though not seriously. Protective scaffolding was erected around the tower to protect people from falling glass.

The glass curtain walling was subsequently replaced between 2012 and 2013. Half of the removed glass was placed in storage, where a further four panes broke.

The costs awarded by Mr Justice Stuart-Smith included £8,714,386 for reglazing, £1,867,033 for remedial works and £451,080 for storage.