D.M. Library Files Suit Over Cracked Glass

Des Moines library officials Wednesday sued an architect and contractor over cracked glass panes on the exterior of the $32.3 million Central Library.

About 31 panes have cracked on the 21-month-old building. Each costs $8,000, although library officials had 15 spares on hand when the building opened in April 2006 at 1000 Grand Ave., as a centerpiece of the Gateway West corridor.

The panes began to break a few months after the first book was checked out. Hundreds of panes make up the shimmering copper-colored exterior of the building.

Des Moines City Attorney Bruce Bergman said Wednesday that an industry expert, whom he would not identify, believes a defect in the glass caused the cracks. No glass has fallen, and no one has been injured.

Bergman said lawyers have attempted since last fall to determine responsibility for the replacement costs. Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck Architecture of Des Moines handled the design and selected the glass; Architectural Wall Systems Co. of West Des Moines installed the windows.

The city's library board of directors sued for an unspecified amount of money, although it has spent at least $128,000 so far to replace windows.

Bergman said the board was not told about the alleged glass defect when the windows were selected or that there was a test available to determine whether the windows were made of defective glass.

"Our belief is we didn't do anything wrong," he said. "We hired people to do the work."

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