In Search of Certainty Regarding the Aquarius Architectural Structure
Hollywood, June 30, 2021
I was very impressed with the note of June 28, 2021 from the Board. It shows concern for the adoption of immediate measures to make sure Aquarius is not subject to the tragedy of the Champlain South Tower in Surfside.
My enthusiasm suffered a rude awakening when I read the third paragraph. It mentioned that our “Engineer of Record” would participate in meetings for an evaluation of the structural integrity of Aquarius. From now on this company will be referred as “The Firm.”
The City of Hollywood has finalized the inspection of Aquarius and accepted the project of the 40-year recertification. This represents a closure of this project and the relief of the Firm in charge of technical aspects as well as project management responsibility. It is a natural conclusion that Aquarius and the technical engineering firm have ended their relationship. But it seems that this disastrous partnership continues.
When we review the assistance provided by this firm several points deserve to be taken into consideration:
- The budgetary proposal/estimate for the 40-year recertification done by the Firm was 10 million dollars. This budgetary specification was prepared from May 2016 until the end of the year. Late October the Aquarius Association was surprised with the need to hire an Architectural firm to complement the budgetary document. The Board and the Management scrambled to search for such support. The firm assured the Board that the project would not exceed this term because it was very conservative and reflected their long experience with projects like this. The final cost was in excess of 15 million. To this we have to add their pro labore of 8% and the recent work done in the West Deck and Garage.
- The project as proposed by the builder (Structural) was for the completion of the work on both towers in 80 weeks. Included here were 50 weeks for the East Deck. As we all know, even considering that there were no changes in the initial scope, 80 weeks became more like 150 weeks of dust, noise, and inconvenience for all Aquarius Residents. So, the lack of project management skills becomes evident, to say the least. Considering that the firm was in charge of project management it is evident the great amount of responsibility of the firm for this long delay.
- The West Deck and Garage that had been the subject of recuperation in 2016 was given as certifiable by the firm. Several inquires from the Board to the firm were always answered that the West Deck and Garage were fully certifiable. The leaks, the spalling of some areas were considered minor issues deserving no attention and it would not delay the 40 year recertification. The result was an additional 24 weeks for repairs and the loss of some warranty privileges Aquarius had with the constructor of that area: CSI, because the 5 years were close to expiration. Again, the technical punctuality and conscientiousness of the firm may come under scrutiny.
- Complaints about fissures in the brand-new balconies and mortar separation remain unanswered by the firm.
- In addition, the water penetration in several units in both towers remains an enigma. Also, the question if the external walls of Aquarius have been properly waterproofed is not clear. It sure does not look like it.
For all these reasons, having the firm participate in any future endeavor at Aquarius seems to be NOT a good idea.
The Board should be congratulated by the prompt initiative to reassess the integrity of the Aquarius Condominium but to have the firm involved seems a great problem. We all know Albert Einstein’s words: “To do the same thing again and again and expect different results is…”
One item that should be part of the assessment of the structural integrity of Aquarius is its soil. All of us are familiar with the phenomenon of sink holes. They seem to be caused by subterraneous flows of water known as aquifers. Do we have any of these under ground rivers? A quick geological inspection could reassure us and eliminate one of the many variables that affect concrete structures.
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