Since its opening in 2017, the University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital has been plagued with window deficiencies that have become so common that many patient windows have begun to pose safety issues, The Gazette reports.
As a result of these alleged deficiencies, the University of Iowa’s Board of Regents filed a lawsuit on Friday, June 10, 2022, against Knutson Construction Services Midwest Inc. and Cupples International Inc.
“Unfortunately, the contractors have not accepted responsibility for replacing the defective windows,” University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Interim CEO Kimberly Hunter told reporters at a press conference on June 10, 2022. “So, we’re really forced to file a lawsuit to recover the extensive cost of this window replacement. Our priority is to do what’s right for our patients and our families, all the employees who work here and visitors who come here, and we’ll continue to focus on that.”
Per The Gazette, the two contractors installed hundreds of windows in the 14-story building. The curtainwall system includes exterior glass and wall panels that are designed to resist air and water filtration, provide a thermal barrier, and accommodate deflections, thermal expansion and contraction.
The lawsuit, which was obtained by The Gazette, indicates that problems emerged during and after the construction. The University of Iowa states that close to 40% of the windows featured blemishes and condensation and were left uncorrected.
The problem has become so prevalent that the university sought the Board of Regents’ approval in 2021 to spend another $10 to $15 million to deal with the increasing number of damaged windows. This is on top of the original price tag of $392.7 million needed to construct the Children’s Hospital.
The added expense included installing protective film and clips to safely secure the windows. Despite the safety threat, no one has been injured and officials have stated that the defective windows do not pose a threat to patients, employees and visitors.
According to the University of Iowa, attempts were made to rectify the situation outside of court. However, the lawsuit alleges the contractors refused to repair the defects.
The university’s contract with Knutson included window installation on levels one, two, 12, and on a bridge that connects the hospital with the main campus. The contract with Cupples involved the installation of the curtainwall system on floors three through 11. Guardian Glass was the float glass supplier; Cristacurva was the fabricator and Kuraray supplied the interlayer.
“We’re disappointed that we’ve had to get to the point of filing a lawsuit,” Hunter told reporters. “But we really need the contractors to address the issue. We contracted with companies to provide windows and install them with an expectation that they would work appropriately and not have defects. And that didn’t happen.”