Engineering firm suing architects behind VMFA renovations

Published: Mar. 4, 2011 at 1:58 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 4, 2011 at 4:08 AM EST
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By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is basking in the success of its Picasso exhibit, but its recent expansion is now at the center of a lawsuit.

The engineering firm that worked on the project, is suing the architect firms saying it's still owed money for the multi-million dollar renovation.

This is a copy of the 37 page lawsuit filed by Hankins and Anderson, the engineers. It alleges the architects who hired them, Rick Mather and SMBW, not only didn't pay a huge portion of the bill, but mismanaged the project.

In January 2002, architects Rick Mather and SMBW, a London and Richmond joint venture, hired Glen Allen engineering firm Hankins and Anderson. The end result: A slick, modern $150 million renovation and expansion of the VMFA. It reopened last spring, and just last month premiered a world-renowned Picasso exhibit.

The museum is not a party in the lawsuit. The engineer's total bill was just over $2 million.

In the suit, the engineering firm claims that despite its repeated demands for payment, the architects refused to settle its bill and never said payments were being withheld.

A billing statement, that is part of the lawsuit, shows the architects owe the engineer nearly $228,000 for work they did here at the museum.

Hankins and Anderson also allege the architects failed to properly manage the project resulting in unexpected delays that led to additional costs. For that, the engineers want no less than $500,000.

Will Scribner, a partner with SMBW, said the matter has been under discussion for four years and is disappointed it has come to this point. He adds only one side has been expressed and in the coming months, the other side will be presented. But he's confident they'll come to a resolution.

Again, the museum is not a part of this lawsuit. McGuire Woods law firm, which is handling the case for the engineering firm, declined comment. A hearing date has not yet been set for the lawsuit.

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