We write to offer clarification to an article printed in last week’s issue of your esteemed newspaper, in which, among other things, our firm was accused of “inadequate supervision” of the remodeling works that took place at City Hall. First and foremost, it should be made clear that the unfortunate incident reported on stemmed from spalling of the original floor system of this 30-year old, poorly maintained and possibly poorly constructed building, which WAS NOT TOUCHED as a part of the remodeling works that we were hired to supervise.
Secondly, the difference between REMODELING and RETROFITTING needs to be appreciated. The former seeks to change the function, layout and appearance of a building, whereas the latter, which requires detailed engineering analysis and design, seeks to either restore lost structural capacity or increase existing structural capacity and resistance. We were NOT hired by the City Council to perform any detailed structural evaluation of the old market building, nor to recommend nor supervise any retrofits to it.
Finally, the statement that “numerous problems…are uncharacteristic for a newly renovated building…” is one that anyone familiar with remodeling of old buildings would find to be ridiculous. Even new buildings do have some issues at completion, which is why there is a defects period in any good contract. How much more, then, the remodeling of an old, questionable building like the one being discussed.
Occupying a building like the old market carries with it risks. This does not necessarily mean that the decision to remodel and occupy rather than retrofit or demolish and build new, was a bad decision, but it does mean that expectations must be realistic and the City Council must be prepared to pay due attention to maintenance and addressing of any issues that arise from the old structural elements.
Carlton N. Young, P. Eng.
Young’s Engineering Consultancy Limited