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Courthouse Square in Salem, Oregon Shut Down by Surprising Structural Defects

Courthouse Square is one of the most prominent and recognizable buildings in Salem, Oregon.  It has been home to Marion County officials as well as a transit mall for Salem-Keizer transit since 2000.  However, the structure recently failed strength tests and it now faces condemnation after being officially classified as a dangerous building.

Examples of Courthouse Square’s current structural problems include broken concrete and exposed steel reinforcing rods in two of the building’s basement corners, cracked windows from bending frames, deformation of steel landings and cracked walls in two stair enclosures, door binding and frame separation, and ceiling grid bending on multiple floors.

The recent death of the structural engineer responsible for the building’s design a decade ago has raised questions about liability for the defects.  A 30-member task force appointed by Marion County and Salem-Keizer Transit governing boards is set to meet on January 13, 2011 to determine the fate of the structure.

Troubling is the fact that the building passed inspection upon its construction, but now has failed strength tests.  According to a preliminary report presented by an engineering team hired by the county to study the defects, the structure’s failure is due to design errors, problematic materials, and poor construction.  Such comprehensive problems may make any sort of repairs extremely difficult.

Back in 2000, the Courthouse Square construction project cost approximately $34 million; today, several of the project’s contractors have reportedly settled several lawsuits for about $1.8 million, with other lawsuits pending.  If you need a structural engineer to assess liability and appear as an expert witness in your case, contact Engineering Expert Witnesses today for a free initial consultation.

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