Spectrum Architects pay $300,000 in Lame Deer School District case
The Billings architecture firm hired by the Stillwater County Commissioners to conduct two feasibility studies involving the courthouse was fired from a multi-million dollar school project in 2013 midway through the endeavor.
The Lame Deer School District had hired Spectrum Group Architects in 2009 to work with the DPS construction company to build an elementary school. Both were fired in 2013, as the project ran behind schedule and over-budget with contracts that had been modified several times.
Lame Deer Schools Superintendent Bill Parker said recently the school settled with Spectrum out of court for slightly more than $300,000. Because the terms of the settlement require the parties to not say anything negative about one another, Parker said there was no more on which he could comment.
However, the district’s board of trustees did release an outside evaluation prepared by High Plains Architects which details some of the issues.
Two conclusions were reached in the evaluation, one regarding Spectrum and the other involving DPS. The evaluation states the following about Spectrum:
“Spectrum Group Architects was the architect for Phase 1. Its design was unremarkable and does not evidence sustainable design strategies that would benefit both the district and the students and teachers. This design was presented in a set of contract documents that is not clear, correct, or well-coordinated. In addition, Spectrum charged the school district considerably higher fees for the Space Planning Phase and Basic Services than industry standard. It then charged for a number of Additional Services, many of which were unwarranted.”
Specifically, the evaluation compared Spectrum’s fees with those of similar school construction projects in the Billings area. The evaluation alleged Spectrum charged the school district $336,000 “excessive design fees” and cited problems including roof overhangs that dump snow into doorways and leaks in ceiling tiles.
Also addressed is the selection process used to select Spectrum. The evaluation alleges that Spectrum “misrepresented its green building expertise.
Despite what its website claims, Spectrum has not completed any LEED projects, and it is not a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. And there are not any Spectrum employees listed in the USGBC directory of LEED Accredited Professionals.”
It also placed blame on the school district, Spectrum and DPS for what was termed “poor process” that affected the project with incorrect forms used, poor documentation of changes made throughout the project and failure to conduct tests at the appropriate stages.
The evaluation cost the Lame Deer School District approximately $20,000, according to the Native Sun News.