Skip to comments.GSA: Living wall out for Portland federal building
Posted on 10/07/2010 7:09:34 AM PDT by Bean Counter
A plan to install what would have been North Americas largest living wall on the west facade of the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building in Portland has been deemed too risky, and too expensive, by the General Services Administration.
Portlands SERA Architects and Cutler Anderson Architects of Bainbridge Island, Wash., received international attention for proposing 250-foot-tall vegetated fins to shade the federal buildings west side. The buildings energy performance is tied to the amount of shade it receives throughout the day, according to Don Eggleston, president of SERA Architects.
However, because of concerns about high costs of installation and potential maintenance of the vegetated facade, the buildings west side instead will be covered with a series of long, aluminum poles Eggleston calls reeds.
Its disappointing, but you have to look at the maintenance, operations and risk involved with a new building technology, Eggleston said. Once we started looking at the cost benefit of the living wall, we started looking for alternatives. The most cost effective and easiest-to-maintain option is aluminum.
Construction is expected to begin this fall on a $133 million renovation of the 18-story federal building as part of a $5.5 billion stimulus award to the GSA to reduce energy use in its portfolio of buildings. The proposed living wall, when it was announced, was the subject of much media attention, and even drew the ire of Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who deemed it a waste of economic stimulus money.
I have a close friend who has been working with one of the subcontractors on this project, and we were discussing this last night, and it is clear this is an impending disaster unfolding in slow motion.
My friend tells me that the redesigns and change orders are endless, and that the project has passed the point where it would be cheaper to simply raze the existing building to the ground and build a new building from scratch.
The ongoing labor documentation and reporting requirements are a nightmare. Sub-Sub Contractors are holding up payment for everyone because they have failed to properly enter the data required by the City of Portland in their extremely ponderous computer system. Last week my friend finally got a paper report she needed from the State of Oregon after waiting for over two weeks, which she had to present to the City of Portland, who are collating and submitting labor and payroll data to several Federal Agencies.
In other words, a State bureaucrat held up my friend from reporting to a City bureaucrat who is reporting to several Federal bureaucrats, all of which are preventing my friend's company from being paid for work already performed.
When the project first kicked off last Spring, my friend told me that a group of over 30 "federal supervisors" did an "acceptance tour" of their company because they were being considered as a Sub-Contractor by the Prime. All that was missing was the Greyhound bus, which would have been far more efficient than the swarm of private vehicles that descended on my friend's company for a day.
The latest twist is that by Contract, the Subs are required to hire Sub-Sub Contractors for certain things, and of course they must be Women and/or Minority owned. The Sub-Sub they hired is a one man show, does business out of his van, has no office or staff, and has his "bookkeeper" girlfriend attempting to submit the paperwork that this job requires. Until she gets her act together and figures out the City of Portland's system, nobody from the Prime Contractor on down will be paid. Period.
And actual construction is just beginning. I'm hearing that the cost of relocation of all those Federal employees out of the building was not even considered in the original bid, or at the least, was significantly under estimated.
It sounds to me like this job is already significantly over cost, even before it starts, mainly from the horrendous and ponderous official reporting that is being required along with a continuing redesign that has little or nothing to do with what was originally approved, other than it is still an overhaul of a Federal Building.
This is stimulus gone terribly, terribly wrong, and will be worth keeping an eye on as time goes on. I have seen nothing close to an investigative report on this, but it is tailor-made for an episode of 60 Minutes five years from now.
Oregon and Washington *ping*, please...
Arrogant, incompetent, suicidal magicsterical bureaucracy strikes again.
Because the goverment NEVER runs out of money.
Actually it has gone exactly right. Look at all those government paper pushers it is keeping employed....."jobs saved", donchya know.
Government efficiency at work. The “stimulus” lines the pockets of bureaucrats, but does precious little for the private sector that makes the (disastrous) decision to join the project.
I can’t wait for Obamacare to kick-in...
Exactly...this is a job shop for bureaucrats from the local level right on up the food chain to Imam Hussein himself. I’m getting a disturbing look inside the guts of this beast and it ain’t pretty.
At the same time there are others who are working on this because it is the only gig in town. The biggest private developer in Portland (Tom Moyer) folded his project 2 years ago when financing on his tower collapsed. Portland still has a five story deep hole in the ground where that private project is at a dead stop at basement level, while “stimulus” money is being spent just blocks away on a Federal black hole like Edith-Green is.
This has to be brought to a halt. If it isn’t “stimulus” money it’s another un-vetted, unaffordable earmark. That’s why we need to pay attention to local races as well as Congressional ones. This kind of wild spending is whats killing us financially, and why it will take decades to recover even if we do take 100+ seats in the House this fall.
And of course, the easiest and most cost effective solution, covering up the windows on the West side, was never considered.
I've seen this gimmick all to often. A fly-by-night comapny will make that claim, or organize itself by those "minority" guidelines just to satisfy the government bureaucrat PC mindset. Most of those companies aren't worth spit.