Nickel sulfide in library façade causes legal issues

January 22, 2008
COMMERCIAL

Nickel sulfide inclusions in the all-glass façade of Des Moines’ Central Library are being blamed for more than 30 broken lites. The Des Moines Public Library Board of Trustees filed a lawsuit Jan. 16 against the local architect and the glass installer over the breakages on the 21-month-old building.

The board is suing Des Moines-based Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck Architecture Ltd. and Architectural Wall Systems Co., West Des Moines, for an unspecified amount for the lites that cost about $8,000 each, according to a Jan. 17 article from the Des Moines Register.

The $32.3-million building, designed by London’s David Chipperfield Architects, features a 3,500-square-meter glass façade of insulating glass units with a copper mesh interlayer manufactured by Okalux of Germany. The glass allows views outside and maintains natural daylighting while reducing solar heat gain.

“All experts who have examined the glass believe the cause to be nickel sulfide inclusions in the tempered glass,” says John Templer, attorney from Whitfield & Eddy PLC, council for AWS.

The lawsuit also acknowledges NiS inclusions as the cause of the breakage. In the suit, the board contends that they were not informed about the heat-soak testing process that could have been used to determine whether the glass was defective.

“AWS denies that it has any liability for the glass breakage problems alleged to have occurred at the library,” Templer said in a written statement. “AWS had no input into the choice of the product specified for the library glass, which as the city alleges, was unique. AWS … purchased and installed the glass specified for the project.” Templer continued that the library did not find any problems with the glazing installation.

No one at Okalux could be reached for comment.

Read a feature article about the library from the April 2007 issue of GreenSource Magazine. Read an Okalux press release from May 2006 about the glass façade on the library.

Stay tuned to e-glass weekly and GlassMagazine.com for updates on the lawsuit.