Two days before 446 upper-class student's were set to move into Harbin Hall, Georgetown University filed suit against the architects and contractors who built the eight-story dormitory, charging that it was shoddily constructed more than 11 years ago.
The university contends in a civil suit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, that improper design, construction and supervision of work allowed water to seep between the bricks, causing them to buckle and fall loose from the outside walls of the residence hall.
Damages in the suit could amount to more than $2 million if the university has to replace all the bricks. The faulty brickwork is on the outside of the dormitory from the second to eight floors, according to court documents.
Aubrey M. Daniel III, an attorney representing the university, said the length of time that has passed since the hall was built is sure to be one of the major issues in the suit.
The District's statute of limitations for such lawsuits is 10 years, which means the university could not sue the architects and contractors for damages in court here.
However, the statute of limitations for such lawsuits in Maryland is 20 years. Daniel said the suit was brought in Maryland because of the extended time limits and could be filed in federal court because the university is in Washington and the architects and contractors are based in Maryland.
"We certainly contend that we have the right to bring the lawsuit," Daniel said yesterday. "But they'll probably make that one of the issues."
Three of the four architects and both contracting companies that designed and built Hardin Hall in the mid 1960s are located in the Maryland suburbs. The fourth architect, who lives in the Virginia suburbs, was not named in the suit.
Only one of the six defendants could be reached for comment Friday.
Seymour Auerbach of Chevy Chase, a registered architect for 22 years who designed the dorm, said he had not been notified of the suit.
The other defendants named were Dennis W. Madden of college Heights' Estates and John M. Walton of Clinton, architects who had drawn up the specifications for construction.
Also named in the suit were Victor R. Beauchamp Associates Inc. of Rockville, the general contractor, and Anchor Associates Inc. of Silver Spring, a subcontracting firm that did the brickwork. The university also named Reliance Insurance Companies of Baltimore as a defendant in an attempt to get at lease part of the $2,019,619 surety bond to pay for needed repairs.
In the suit, the university is seeking $41,500 from the three architects and two constructioin companies to repay what it has already spent to repair the brickwork since the problem was discovered last September.
In addition, the suit asks the court for a judgement against the architects and contractors to make them liable for additional expenses incurred in replacing moreor possibly all of the bricks.