January 15, 2020

P.U. Sues Andlinger Center Architects For $10.7M Over Changes and Delays

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton University has filed suit for $10.7M against Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (TWBTA) and sub-consultants Jacobs Architects/Engineers, Inc. and Jacobs Consultancy, Inc. due to “extensive changes and delays those companies caused in the construction of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment,” according to Deputy University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss.

Describing the action as “unusual but necessary,” Hotchkiss pointed out that “as detailed in the complaint, TWBTA and Jacobs failed to meet their obligations in the construction of the Center, and the University is asserting claims for breach of contract and negligence, among others.”

New York-based TWBTA and Jacobs, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, have not responded to requests for comment on the suit and the University’s claims against them.

The complaint was filed on December 10 by the Board of Trustees of Princeton University, and, according to The Daily Princetonian student newspaper, Judge Brian Martinotti and Magistrate Judge Lois Goodman will preside over the case at the New Jersey District Court in Trenton.

The Andlinger Center, on Olden Street adjacent to the School of Engineering and Applied Science, is a 129,000-square-foot facility for research and teaching in the areas of sustainable energy-technology development, energy efficiency, and environmental protection and remediation. It was founded in July 2008 through a $100M gift from international business leader and 1952 Princeton University graduate Gerhard R. Andlinger.

The Andlinger Center began operations in the fall of 2010, and the formal opening of the complex of research, teaching, and garden spaces took place in May 2016.

According to the complaint, the University contracted TWBTA to perform design services for the Andlinger Center project in February 2009. Construction began in 2012 and was “substantially completed” in January 2016, approximately 10 months behind schedule. The complaint claims that TWBTA and Jacobs were responsible for at least five months of that delay.

Tod Williams, who with his wife founded Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects in 1986, received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University in 1965 and a master of fine arts from the University in 1967.

TWBTA was also the architect for Feinberg Hall student housing on the Princeton University campus. According to Dezeen, an online architecture magazine, TWBTA has also been involved in controversies over a number of other projects, including the overhaul of Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum of Art, which opened last year, and the Obama Presidential Library, planned for construction in Chicago’s Jackson Park.